An archives and record management plan may seem like something only large businesses need, but the truth is that most businesses can benefit from a well-thought-out plan. The difference is that you may not need the large, complex system used by large companies. Unless your company has only five or fewer people, you could stand to benefit from an archives and record management plan.
The Purpose of an Archives and Record Management Plan
Regardless of size, most businesses generate several hundred to thousands of documents every year. Each of those documents goes through drafts and reviews before they are considered final, particularly documents that pertain to clients, processes, and procedures. These files can consume a considerable amount of space in a network on in the cloud.
While you won’t have any immediate need for these documents, in most instances you need to be able to save them. Instead of keeping them with the final versions, the archives and record management plan helps you to organize and store all of the different iterations, comments, and versions. If a client requests a copy of a previous version (which can happen during audits), you need to be able to produce it. The archives and record management plan gives you a structure by which to store old copies in a timely fashion.
Who Is Not Likely to Benefit from an Archives and Record Management Plan
Nearly every company can benefit from a plan that ensures documents and files are properly managed and archived. However, there are a few instances when the plan will actually consume more time than it will save.
Businesses that have only a few people (usually less than 10, almost certainly if less than 5 people), then having a discussion about how to handle the records and documentation should be adequate to ensure that documents are stored in a way that meets the requirements. Having such a plan may also be unnecessary for companies that work with documentation through Opensource platforms, such as GitHub. All documentation can be automatically stored and versioned for later, making it redundant to have a plan.
Who Will Benefit From an Archives and Record Management Plan
Any business with 10 or more people should have a plan in place to ensure documentation and files are properly tracked and managed. The plan does not have to be elegant or extensive, but you do need to have one.
If you own a small business that has 10 or fewer people, you may still need to have a plan, depending on your field. If you work with a product or service that is heavily regulated, a plan is mandatory for the government agency that oversees the product or service.
If you are planning on growing your company now or in the future, you should create your plan and implement it before the growth begins. It is much easier and cost-efficient to have one in place and to modify it as you go than to try to implement it after the fact.
Certain divisions also require a plan to manage their documentation, such as Human Resources. Even if your company is small, regulations require employee and potential employee data be managed in a way that ensures it is secure. You don’t need easy access to data on employees who have left the company, but you do need to at least archive their data for later. The archives and record management plan ensures that all of the data is managed in a way that keeps it secure.