Employees at small businesses are often expert multitaskers. For example, an office manager may take on numerous responsibilities, from day-to-day employee management to technology quick fixes to customer service troubleshooting. All of this calls for thoughtful task management.
In some cases, you may also be responsible for records management. According to the 2016-2017 Information Governance Benchmarking Survey by Cohasset Associates and ARMA International, 15% of small businesses say their organizations have no dedicated records and information management (RIM) staff. That means those tasks are left to an office manager or another employee with office management responsibilities.
So how can you balance your office management tasks with your records management responsibilities? It’s all a matter of managing tasks effectively.
First, make a list of your current responsibilities. Then make adjustments so you can dedicate an appropriate amount of time to responsibilities at the core of your business. You may be able to offload or outsource tasks like tech support. Consider records management a core responsibility because of its importance to the health of your business. Without accurate, organized and easily accessible records, it’s easy to fall into the trap of failing to find documents in time for filings or audits.
Winnowing your responsibilities down to the most critical is just the first step in effective task management. You’ll need to assiduously avoid time traps. It may feel like good task management when you cross 10 ancillary tasks off your list, but it isn’t if that leaves you without enough time to tackle a big core project.
It’s also important to understand exactly what is required of organizations in your industry and state, and how to prioritize records management tasks. These tasks include determining what records are needed to document activities in each area of the company, maintaining records properly and destroying records when they no longer need to be retained.
One way to accomplish these goals is by developing a records retention schedule, which helps enforce policies, boosts your ability to locate and retrieve records when necessary and can be key in proving compliance with applicable standards and requirements.
The records management process is complex and time-consuming. Consider automating it as much as possible using records management software and an enterprise records repository. An enterprise records repository ensures that all electronic and physical records are accurately classified and stored, available for retrieval when needed and disposed of properly when no longer required. It also helps ensure compliance with management policies and government regulations.
As your company grows, even an automated records management process may be too much to keep track of. At that point, it’s time to consider an even higher form of task management — a comprehensive records management program, which can be outsourced to a qualified consultant.
Being a jack-of-all-trades isn’t easy, but it’s the way of the small business world. With some careful task management, you’ll find you can do more than ever before — and do it better.