As a company it is essential to maintain certain types of documents for many years. Often there are legal obligations. You may never be audited and get away with a few missing documents. But the impact of getting caught in an audit can be brutal. Chief Executives have gone to jail over not complying with information management policies, and companies have been shut down completely.
In recent conversations with a number of senior executives and records keepers at Indian corporates, we learned of the following commonly made mistakes:
- Not tracking what’s being transported: A CEO reported that he knew his drivers were selling documents for scrap. The drivers know that no one keeps track of the documents being transported, and that no one ever tries to retrieve the documents from storage.
- Only indexing by date: It is common practice to store files and documents by date. E.g. “All customer invoices for May 2014” or “All employee reviews for April 2012”, etc. Let’s say a customer sues your company over an invoice from May 2014. You will go into your records center and easily find the invoice from May 2014. But wouldn’t it be useful to be able to dig out ALL previous invoices related to that customer? If your records were indexed by date and customer name, you could do so quickly and easily.
- Not keeping record of locations of files: Many record centers we have seen do not have any labeling system for shelves or even boxes. This makes it practically impossible to retrieve files, especially older files that were stored by a staff member who has since left the company.
- Not empowering the end-user to search for documents: A lawyer we met complained that even though his law firm uses a leading records management company, he faces challenges in retrieving documents on time. It would take 2-3 days for the document to arrive, and often it turned out to be the wrong document. The reason for this: he, the end user, had to place an order with the law firm’s librarian, who in turn would place an order with the 3rd party records company. Often mistakes were made in this chain of communication. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if the lawyer could search for his document online, look at an electronic copy (or short description), verify this is the one he wants, and then give the document-identifier to the firm’s librarian? Removes chances of getting it wrong, and makes it quicker to locate and retrieve.
- Storing records in basements: We recently visited a corporate records center in the basement of a Delhi building. Huge Red Flag. Delhi is prone to water-logging in the rains. In the Mumbai floods of 2005, many banks and government departments lost important records. Here is an article from the Sofia News Agency about loss of records in Bosnia’s recent floods.
We at EisenVault work with you to fully understand your records management requirements and pain-points. We will work with you to setup detailed indexes, tracking systems, and labeling. We also implement state-of-the-art electronic document management systems that can map your physical documents to electronic documents – making search, retrieval and workflows so much simpler.