The recent surge in technology has caused some to wonder if the age of the paper document is dead. However, companies that regularly conduct regulatory compliance reviews and keep up on legal proceedings know that the use of paper records continues and the death of paper records has been greatly exaggerated. Even so, some industry pundits still are suggesting that information management exists squarely in a digital environment. For some companies, like Google, that’s true. They’ve managed to create a born-digital environment, but most companies still have not made that jump. Computerworld contributor Lee Jasper wrote an article indicating that in modern business, records management is in reference to the backup and storage of digital records and not paper records storage.

Digital Records Management Risks

In today’s business world, where the economic climate is constantly changing and profit margins are thinner than ever, companies cannot afford to rely on just one solution. Keeping information together in one format can be a risky venture, and businesses shouldn’t have to take that risk. For example, if paper records were replaced by digital record storage and those computer files become corrupted, any company that disposed of their paper post-conversion would have nothing. The cost of replacing files far outweighs the cost of storing them.

That’s why regulations won’t likely change because many governing bodies understand that organizations need their information to exist in multiple formats in order for it to be considered secure.

According to ISO 15489, as reported on the ISACA site, records management” is defined as a field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records. Note that they do not specify paper or digital record forms because both are viable in modern business.

Lee Jasper On Paper Records Management

Even Jasper, a proponent of strictly digital record storage, admitted that paper records management requirements are here to stay.

“The records management requirements, particularly around the destruction of information, really don’t make any sense in an electronic world, but they are not about to change anytime soon,” Jasper wrote.

The issue is that companies have to find solutions to properly store their records, especially since they are going to use digital record keeping. While computer files won’t require cabinets or closets, they may need to be stored in on-site servers, which can take up a substantial amount of office space and cost the company substantially over time.

To save on real estate costs and make the most of your given office space, the best way to manage multiple copies of information is to back up digital copies and store paper records at a professional offsite storage facility.

Paper Records Storage and Management

Paper records need to be managed in accordance with legal and business requirements. This includes proper paper records storage and filling as well as proper destruction when the RIM schedule requires it.

For more information and best practices on managing hybrid paper and digital records, check out our eBook, Integrated Information Management – A Roadmap with Considerations for Properly Assessing Your Organization’s Information Priorities

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