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January is traditionally Storage Month – all the closed business from the previous year goes into the archives, while new files and projects are opened in readiness for the new year’s new business. With all those old documents from last year, and all the new ones you’ll accumulate this year, January is a good time to establish a document management plan.

The development of a document management plan always begins with the three typical outcomes for a document: file it, scan it, or shred it. Once you define what to do with the various classes of documents your business generates, you’ll have a much better idea of the quantity of physical document storage you’ll need, as well as the size of your document conversion needs. But each outcome – file, scan, or shred – has its own inherent challenges.

FILE IT:  Certain paper documents should always be maintained in their original form, and those documents may vary depending upon the type of work your organization does. Some types of law offices, for example, have a greater need than others to keep original documents. Thanks to high-density mobile filing systems, paper documents don’t have to take over a sizeable piece of your office’s floor space. The challenge is determining exactly which original documents your organization should retain.

SCAN IT:  Like high-density shelving, document scanning is an excellent strategy to keep your organization’s physical storage footprint lean and mean. Whether stored on drives or in the cloud, your scanned documents are readily accessible but in a far more efficient spatial form. Proper organization is key to an effective document conversion program, however, and enlisting the advice of experts will help you achieve all the benefits of better space utilization.

SHRED IT:  Once you’ve decided which documents you don’t need to hold on to, document shredding is the safest way to dispose of unneeded paper. But don’t get too hasty with the shredder; business documents like employee records, business property deeds, annual reports, even business credit card statements should be retained for a number of years, or even for the life of the organization. While many documents will eventually be shredded, they’ll need to be filed safely in the interim, and you’ll need to calculate how much storage space you’ll need for them, and for how long.

It’s no small thing to develop a successful document management plan, and it can seem like an insurmountable challenge. But it doesn’t have to be. Educate yourself about the information needs of your particular business, partner with a storage pro who understands the latest document storage strategies, and step into the new year with confidence.


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