Documents, be they physical or digital, are official records for an organization. Controls need to be in place to ensure that proper retention, audit, and litigation requirements for these documents are met. Some of those challenges are:
- Business critical document must be available often several years for audit or legal purposes after the documents were created.
- Legislation requires personal information or health information is protected by the stewards of that information.
- Timely discovery for litigation or audit requests must be met.
The alternative to going paperless is not always the status quo. Information management changes effect physical document too.
And while most organizations are choosing a path of Digital Transformation there is an option to remain on paper. But organizations that choose to remain on paper cannot ignore these changes and will need to implement new processes to ensure they meet control requirements. These organizations need to implement a program of “Analog Fortification.” An Analog Fortification ensures that organizations:
Maintain duplicate copies of physical documents
To ensure that physical documents remain accessible for several years after creating them organizations need to maintain physical documents in controlled environments. Temperature and humidity need to be maintained to ensure that neither the paper degrades nor ink fades. Higher quality inks and paper will also extend the life of printed content. Special considerations need to be maintained for documents that need to be kept for more than fifty years. Copies of physical documents should be kept in remote geographies to minimize lose from natural disasters such as floods, hurricane, or earthquakes.
Lock and track confidential and personally identifiable information
Organizations can find themselves in breach of confidentiality or privacy provision set on documents. Documents can contain personally identifiable information, health related information, and privileged information often need more protections. Organizations must ensure that these documents are locked when not in use and logs are used to record access.
Maintain an inventory of critical business documents
Many organizations will need to respond to discovery as a part of litigation or audit requests. Discovery windows vary but are often a month long but can be shorter. Most regulatory and legal bodies are moving away from accepting physical documents. Organizations should maintain a full inventory of all relevant documents with full text search capabilities of most relevant documents. Organizations should be able to scan the results into electronic format as part of their response.
Maintaining duplicate copies of physical document and implementing physical controls across an organization can be costly but these are critical business requirements. Luckily, most business documents are born digital and in their digital form, these controls are easier to implement with any standard content services platform. When you’re ready, we can support your content services journey.