A business’ records are its lifeblood. Every document, every paper record, is a mark of a business’ interactions with partners, customers and other affiliates. Without the documents, and their effective management systems, the business all but fails to exist.

A large part of these documents are comprised of receipts and invoices, contracts and other records of deals conducted. These are incredibly important documents that obviously require effective management and safe-keeping. But there are other documents, records of correspondence between a business and its clients, that, despite being of arguably less important than contracts or invoices, are constantly in review and the process of being updated.

If a business’ records are the story of its existence, correspondence records are the history of a business’ interaction with each client. And, without clients, a business really would be nothing.

Business correspondence requires proper management. If a business has to deal with deadlines – and every business does –, then its communication channels must be efficient and well-recorded. Having a system that manages this type of record is essential if a business ever wants to assess the development of a relationship with one of its clients or in order to ensure clarity with regards requests from clients.

Much of a business correspondence management system will be conducted in-house and entirely digitally. Modern businesses largely communicate with their clients online, through email or other digital communications software. However, occasionally a business will need to draw on historic records in order to accurately provide information for a querying client.

What is a correspondence management system and how does it fit within a broader system of document management?

A correspondence management system, generally speaking, tracks all the ingoing, outgoing and intra-business correspondence of an organisation. An effectively running system of management for these records will then make the information available to those that it is relevant to.

If this system of records management is effectively designed and well-running, receiving, logging and effectively processing these records will be ironed out. The system will also have in place a process that optimises storage, retrieval and appropriate delivery of these records to the correct recipient within a company.

Much of a correspondence management system will be conducted by a business. However, certain records may, eventually in their lifecycle, enter into a stage where they are still in need of storage but not necessary for day-to-day access in-house.
At this stage, these documents – still records within correspondence management – need to be effectively stored in case they are needed to solve a dispute, as a clarifying record or, most importantly, for auditing purposes.

How third-party records management systems are tailored to work well within a business’ correspondence management system: –
Businesses in Kenya are required by law to keep all commercially relevant documents for a minimum of seven years. If you want to read more about Kenya’s corporate law as it pertains to this subject, you can do so here.

Furthermore, and despite that this is changing gradually, many of the business records generated in Kenya are in paper form. These records are wieldy, they take up a lot of space and keeping them in a business’ offices can be an ineffective use of a company’s available space.

So, with such long lifespans for Kenyan records, and the fact that they are often physical, many correspondence records make their way to third-party records or document management storage companies.

Third-party document storage is a large industry and the companies that provide this service here in Kenya are very professional and efficient in their handling of a company’s records. They all have effective systems in place for the safe storage, effective retrieval and timely delivery of records to their clients, as and when these records are required.

How the Filing Room facilitates correspondence management: –

Different third-party management companies use different systems for the organisation of the records stored with them. We, at the Filing Room, use the industry-leading O’Neil RS-SQL Records Centre Software.

O’Neil’s tracking software is incredibly efficient and allows for a large amount of oversight over the retrieval and storage process. When records are delivered into the Filing Room warehouse, each box is inventoried (if requested by the client) and then given a unique barcode.

Within each box, the files are given a unique identifier number. If one of the companies storing their records with us requests a specific file, we use its identifying number to locate it digitally. The O’Neil system tells our warehouse operatives which box contains the relevant file and creates a logical workorder for retrieval.

Retrieval is logged on our operative’s handheld barcode scanner and the file’s status is updated on our system. This ensures we know where each of the files stored with us is at any given time.

Then, with the file effectively logged as ‘in retrieval’, we deliver it back to our clients who can then use it to complete their in-house correspondence-related query. Once the file is returned to us, we log it in the exact same location it was retrieved from, as dictated by our O’Neil system.