What’s the best way to archive business documents

There is no doubt that running a business requires you to keep a lot of business documents for a variety of reasons; from accounting to product packages and prices, from marketing history to customer records. However, these documents can often take up a lot of space which is when you may want to consider business archive storage and offsite storage as way of securely keeping the documents you need.

Business storage is essential

Business storage is essential for any business and the longer you have been in operation the more paperwork you will have to hand that will need filing away securely but in a way that’s easily retrievable should the HMRC need to see it or you need it for analysis and for making business critical decisions.

Step 1 – What do you need to to store and for how long?

There are some documents that you have to keep for a minimum specified time and some documents that you should only keep for a certain amount of time. Knowing the time that you should keep certain information is really important to the health of your business.

HMRC requirements

The HMRC require you to keep records for at least 5 years after the 31 January submission deadline of the relevant tax year on the following:

  • all sales and income
  • all business expenses
  • VAT records if you’re registered for VAT
  • PAYE records if you employ people
  • records about your personal income
  • your grant, if you claimed through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme because of coronavirus

ICO & GDPR requirements

The Information Commissioners’ Office gives the following advice on keeping records:

  • You must not keep personal data for longer than you need it.
  • You need to think about – and be able to justify – how long you keep personal data. This will depend on your purposes for holding the data.
  • You need a policy setting standard retention periods wherever possible, to comply with documentation requirements.
  • You should also periodically review the data you hold, and erase or anonymise it when you no longer need it.
  • You must carefully consider any challenges to your retention of data. Individuals have a right to erasure if you no longer need the data.
  • You can keep personal data for longer if you are only keeping it for public interest archiving, scientific or historical research, or statistical purposes.

Step 2 – Ensure you only store what you need or what you should be holding

Once you have analysed which records you need to keep you will need to remove anything that you are not required to keep, or indeed, shouldn’t keep under GDPR regulations. If your records contain personal information they should be destroyed properly, usually by being shredded.

A clean out may take a long time but it is essential to make sure your records are kept up to date and secure to ensure you are complying with legislation.

Step 3 – Decide how much storage space you need

When only the records you need to keep remain it’s time to see just how much storage space you need. It is likely that keeping records for 5-7 years means you still have quite a lot of documents left that you will need to store securely.

Often offsite storage for archived records is a sensible choice. Doing your business archive storage offsite means that you don’t have documents that you won’t have to access regularly clogging up your retail or office premises when space might be at a premium. This is a particularly good idea if your premises are in a city. For example, storage facilities in London are often in high demand as premises can be smaller and business owners need to keep their archived documents offsite.

Step 4 – Design a system for fast and accurate retrieval

Even if you are using offsite storage to archive documents you can still organise a system for the documents whilst they are in storage. All documents should be stored in a safe and accurate way to ensure that you can retrieve them quickly and easily regardless of their age. Organising your storage documents also means that you can set a time for having a scheduled clean out in the future to make sure that you can purge older data as it hits the relevant age.

Chelsea Self Storage

Chelsea Self Storage we have 30 years experience in providing the ideal storage solutions for businesses. We understand the optimal storage methods for archived documents and records and can help you calculate the right size of unit you’ll need to maximise your budget. With some of the lowest competitive rates in the capital, we’re convinced that we can offer a file management solution that’s just right for your business.

We are conveniently located near Kensington, a short walk from the Kings Road in Fulham, and have satisfied clients right across London who can testify to our capability and customer service.

If you need to reclaim valuable office storage space then contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you archive your records safely and securely.