Proper records management is one of the most crucial elements in disaster planning. The ability of your company to retrieve critical documents and data after a disaster will greatly affect the financial cost of recovery. In extreme cases, the inability to recover critical records might put your business out of business.
From a disaster-planning perspective, the first step in developing your records management plan is to identify which records are vital and which are important. Vital records are records absolutely essential to the continued life of your business or whose destruction would result in a direct material financial loss. They’re often irreplaceable. Important records are generally replaceable, although their replacement will result in a significant cost of time and money.
Vital and important records include:
- Corporate: Articles of incorporation, by-laws, copyrights and patents, corporate seals, deeds and leases, lists of directors and stockholders, minute book, stocks and bonds, etc.
- Financial: Accounts receivable, bank account information, checks and money, financial reports, general ledgers, insurance policies, payroll records, purchase records, etc.
- Human Resources: Pension and other benefit records, executive compensation plans, personnel files, policy manuals, etc.
- Manufacturing: Engineering drawings, inventory, research and development data, etc.
- Tax: Contracts and agreements, tax returns, etc.
- Miscellaneous: plan, client lists, floor plans, marketing lists, site maps and drawings, and business continuation (disaster recovery) plan. This plan should record such important emergency information as employee and emergency telephone numbers, equipment repair and operational instructions, fire and evacuation plans, and so forth.
Have vital records duplicated or triplicated and then stored with an off-site records-management company. Your off-site storage location should be a reasonable distance from your facility, but far enough away to minimize the possibility of similar damage or destruction. Secure at least one copy of each vital record at a fortified site (vaults, fireproof cabinets, etc.). At a minimum, have important records duplicated and stored off-site.
If you don’t have a formal records-management plan or if your plan has not been reviewed by a professional, contact a reputable records-management company to help you develop your plan and provide the appropriate level of disaster protection your records need. Call us today.