Keeping track of these different records and the length of time to save them can get confusing so it is important to be organized from the very beginning. If you don’t find a suitable means of storing all of your records, they can quickly take over your office space. In addition, if you store them in a way that is not organized, you won’t be able to find records when you need them.
Records may be retained in hard copy or electronic storage. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and many businesses use a combination of storage solutions to help themselves stay organized.
Electronic Storage Solutions
The number one advantage of these solutions is the quick and easy access authorized users have to urgent or important information. There are different types of electronic storage solutions to choose from. Which solution to choose is dependent on the use case.
Storage systems like Box.com or DropBox, are good for non-private documents when doing collaborative work; you can share marketing and promotional documents amongst different groups within the company. The advantage to using these types of solutions is that they cost you nothing. However, these solutions often lack extensive - if any - security. You do not want to store the company cap table or financial reports in an insecure storage space.
TIP: As a general rule, if you would shred physical copies of a document, you should not store it in an online storage facility that you don’t pay for.
When document storage and sharing occurs during financial transactions that involve many outside parties (lawyers, venture capital firms, auditors, etc.) it is a best practice to use an online service that you pay for. These services services generally have more security options and much better protection against security breaches.
One electronic solution you can purchase is a virtual data room / document retention space with secure sharing capabilities. This software allows you to scan documents into the storage system, organize them and give select authorized parties inside or outside company walls the ability to access them. Virtual data rooms are designed for transactions like audits, mergers, acquisitions, equity investment rounds, 409A valuations, patent management and equity investments.
Online document storing and sharing software services are cloud computing applications, which means that your documents are stored on a secure server elsewhere rather than in your office. You and your employees can connect to the server and upload, download, or share sensitive information from anywhere and on any device that has internet access.
There are several advantages to using this type of software but it is important to do your due diligence before selecting one to make sure it will fit your general use and security needs. One advantage of these solutions is their filing system which can keep documents organized in an indexed or customized way for the user.
You may be able to dispose of a large percentage of paper copies of non-essential documents, too, once the documents are stored on the server. This allows the company to cut back on the amount of paperwork stored in the office and general paper supply costs. This is not only good for organization, but also good for the environment. If you use electronic document storage appropriately, you will use far less paper.
Security is Another Advantage of Paid Solutions
If storing or sharing important and sensitive business information it is necessary to treat web security the same as physical security within a company. If sensitive information is being shown to potential investors you do not want information to fall into the wrong hands.
Dealing with all of the paperwork, filing, and organization related to properly running your business can be a headache, to say the least. However, if you use an organizational system that is secure and makes sense, you can easily keep track of paperwork. You’ll never have to worry about financial or legal penalties for losing important paperwork if you stay organized.