Another reason electronic document management has become even more important is the surge in remote workers. Even small businesses are becoming more dispersed. This requires access to traditional paper documents from anywhere the employee happens to work. The best way to access those documents is to store them in a secure, cloud-based solution. In addition, backing up local documents is critical in a dispersed work structure if users are not properly saving documents where they’re supposed to. If users don’t save documents properly, it’s easy for users to lose them.
You also have to make critical decisions as your customers grow. For example, how long should customers keep business documentation? While companies may have a rough idea of how long they should keep their tax records and human resource (HR) documents, these might differ from other types of corporate documents or financial statements. Accordingly, investing in document management should go hand-in-hand with a comprehensive document retention framework.
Storing documentation on assets
One frequently overlooked type of document which relates to an MSP’s work is the purchase of large assets like computer equipment. Assets depreciate over time so they should be closely tracked. As companies expand their operations and take on new assets, they’ll generate a wealth of documents that record relevant information. These documents may include receipts, bills of sale, asset descriptions, and specific details pertaining to an asset’s business uses—among other things. Specifically, because assets depreciate over time, the information recorded on these documents will help companies make the appropriate deductions for the amount of time allowed. With depreciation typically measured over three, five, or seven years, businesses will need asset records for the maximum amount of time. By preserving these documents for a minimum of seven years, stakeholders can be sure they’ll be prepared in the event of a financial audit.
Preserving HR documentation
Another commonly forgotten category of important documentation is HR information. HR records can include a surprising number of documents. For instance, job applications, applicant resumes, interview notes, various assessment tests relevant to the position, reference checks, the results of drug screens, and comprehensive background checks are all considered relevant human resource documents. Businesses are expected to preserve such documents to have them available should the need arise.
To stay in compliance with federal laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the U.S., companies should retain these documents for at least one year, although some states require businesses to preserve them for two years. However, there are some exceptions to these rules certain businesses should to take into consideration. For example, you should keep drug test results for transportation positions for five years instead of the standard one. Looking into specific requirements for your customers can help you ensure you’re enabling the best possible documentation processes for all your clientele.
The type of documentation management system you employ may range from a simple cloud-based sync and sharing solution like Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox to a task specific solution from a vendor in your client’s vertical. Which option you choose depends on the needs of your client. It’s your responsibility as their virtual chief information officer (CIO) to determine the need, measure the risks, and evaluate the right solutions for their needs.
Eric Anthony is the head operations nerd at SolarWinds MSP. Before joining SolarWinds, Eric ran his own managed services provider business for over six years.
You can follow Eric on Twitter @operations_nerd