What’s in Your Archive? How to keep your business archives better
There’s a ton of reasons you should regularly archive your business files, but how do you make space for the new stuff. Here’s our essential guide.
Even in the digital age, it is amazing how much paperwork and other items your business accrues daily. When we are unsure what to do with it, we archive it assuming this is the best course of action. But is it always? Here, we take a look at some of the issues with business archives and reveal some tips and tricks to keep them in order.
There is a saying ‘better safe than sorry’ and we use this is business. We assume that every file, every document, every piece of information is important and thus, we keep it.
But with the accounting year end upon us, you may have even more information you need to keep safe. How will you shoe-horn this latest set of accounts, staff records and more into your self-storage unit?
Time to Thin Down the Business Archive
Archiving material is not the process of simply putting things in a box, putting in storage and forgetting about it. It should be a pro-active business task, one that is dynamic and serves a purpose rather than being an empty room that gradually gets filled with more and more papers and files.
If it is time to thin down your business archive in storage, this is what you need to know:
1 Staff Record and Information
Highly confidential, it is easy to assume that you must keep all the information in storage of every employee you have ever hired.
This is not the case. Current staff members will have personal records kept on site and/or digitally. For those employees that have left, it can be tempting to put their documents in archive, assuming you need to keep them.
The Data Protection Act stipulates that information relating to employees should only be kept for ‘no longer than necessary for the purpose it was intended for’. For employees who have left, you must keep their records, appraisals etc. for 6 years after they have left. Once this date has passed, you can dispose of this information using a professional company who have the licence to handle confidential paperwork.
2 Financial Records
Again, it can be tempting to keep everything although why you would need a receipt from 1998 is a question you are unable to answer. You just do.
Hence your cheap self-storage units are filled to the brim with receipts and pieces of paper that you really don’t need.
Clearly, you need to keep all the company account from the moment the business started but you don’t need to keep receipts and so forth after a certain date. You will need to keep all financial information for 6 years after the tax year. Therefore, accounts submitted in 2013, will need to be kept – receipts and all! – until 2019 at least.
3 Company History
Many businesses choose to keep certain paraphernalia to document the history of their business. And this can be useful, as well as interesting. Keeping old signs, leaflets and promotional material will tell your story but you don’t need 50 copies of the same things. Create a section that is specifically for keeping things that tell your story but don’t overload it.
Review Your Storage Capacity
When you hired self-storage units, did you buy in too much or too little? Over time, your business storage needs change. In some cases, this many not be a gradual change. With office relocations, for example, there can be an influx of items that need storing.
As your staff base grows, you may also need to retrieve items from storage. This means that your capacity needs fluctuate. When this is the case, you need storage that will scale up and down as needed but when it becomes clear what your needs are, you may you have too big a storage unit or too small a unit. In all cases, having a self-storage unit that is too big is always preferable to one that is too small. When everything is stored piled from floor to ceiling, items are damaged and access impossible.
Check Items for Damage or Damp
Self-storage units are convenient and accessible, a great way to store infrequently used items and documents that must be kept for a certain length of time. It is a cathartic process, de-cluttering the office, an opportunity to take stock of what you have and what you need.
Self-storage units tend to be safe from pests and problem with damp. However, when you are clearly storing items and documents that are perishable or susceptible to damage, it pays to review your business storage solutions.
For example, are all your things in a self-storage unit or, are they stored in the office, piled up in store cupboard and such places? You need to be constantly asking if the business storage solutions you are investing in, are the right solutions.
Storing items require organisation. This means having an inventory prior to things being placed in the storage unit. Even the best laid plans and policies, however, go awry. People may access the unit to remove things or add things, but fail to update the inventory. Regularly reviewing your business storage means you stay on top of this important task.
Remove What You No Longer Need
Why are you hanging on documents that you no longer need? Will that printer ever see the light of day again? Are you paying to store important items or are you wasting money on storing things that will never be used or needed again? Regular review of business storage needs answer these questions.
Are Your Business Storage Needs Working for You?
Accessibility, frequency of access needs, the items you have to store all change. The business storage solutions that worked for your business last year, may no longer be working this year. By regularly reviewing what you need, you can identify what you don’t need and this, making storage cheaper, as well as more convenient and suitable.
If you regularly review your business storage, and ensure the items you have a really what you need, then you’re sure to be able to find what you need, when you need it – and you won’t be paying over the odds for storage solutions your business no longer needs.