An effective records management system relies on the consideration of a variety of different factors. It is more than simply storing all your records for ever. Even if you – or whoever is in charge of records management on your site – have created an organised system for managing your records, eventually those records will be so numerous your system will fail. It is, therefore, absolutely essential that your records management system has an in-built process for the destruction of your records.

If your system fails it could result in an inability to find certain documents in a timely manner. It might mean other documents are lost forever. It also opens your business up for the possibility that some important documents can be stolen without your notice.

This can have a devastating impact on your business and how it runs. Improper records management can result in missed payments, lost contracts and, perhaps worst of all, the loss of confidential data.

The cyber-security company, Symantek, estimate that 31 percent of all data breaches result from negligence. Your company’s data is important. It is not only a record of who you are and how you have developed. Keeping it secure is also a promise you make to your clients. If your company finds itself losing important information that relates to your clients and how they do business, you cannot expect them to work with you for very long.

And if one client leaves, you can imagine that other clients will find out about your data protection shortcomings.

Know when to store and when to destroy

Here in Kenya, corporate law stipulates that most records made of your business interactions must be kept for a minimum of 7 years. You can read more about how Kenya’s corporate law relates to you and your business here.

As a result of these laws pertaining to how businesses in Kenya must protect their records, companies must be very careful when it comes to destroying certain documents. Records management does not have to be a difficult task but it does require planning and a degree of forethought.

Seeing as we, at the Filing Room, are professionals in the art of records management, we have come up with a step-by-step process that should help you maintain order amongst your documents.

  1. When you receive paper documents, you should first ascertain how long they must be kept for. The law may require you keep a certain document for seven years but there are other records that it may be useful to keep for much longer. So, first decide when your record absolutely needs to be kept for.
  2. Clearly label on that document when it needs to be destroyed.
  3. Keep these records, unless otherwise necessary, in a storage unit with other records that have the same or similar dates for destruction.
  4. Keep a database of the documents being stored and develop a clear, working method for locating the correct container.
  5. Limit access to these records to the number of people that are required to see and use them.
  6. On the date of destruction, destroy your records in a safe and controlled environment. If you intend to use a third-party records destruction company, ensure that you get a certificate of destruction. All the best third-party records management companies should be able to offer you one.