Record Keeping Secrets Every Owner Should Know

Believe it or not, proper record keeping can be the saving grace of a struggling business. The subject doesn’t feature in mainstream media coverage of the corporate world very often, but it is of vital importance for the day-to-day operations of any going concern. Accurate, thorough records are literally the only verifiable history of an organization’s activities. They encompass financial, operational, logistical, and other forms of information. While it’s almost a universal human trait to abhor paperwork, the good news is that keeping records in the digital age is a relatively painless chore. Modern apps and sophisticated software systems can do most of the heavy lifting, but human input is still a necessary piece of the puzzle.

What are the secrets and best practices for creating records and similar documents in different industries? Transport firms rely heavily on computerized logs in order to avoid hours-of-service and other fines. Every organization has a responsibility to retain email communications for varying periods of time, as a matter of law and industry ethics. Other major categories of recorded data include old standards like tax documents, human resource department hiring logs, and manufacturing firms’ safety and accident documentation. Record keeping, as mundane as it is, remains one of the most vital parts of every company’s daily responsibilities. Consider the following areas in which the task plays a central role in ongoing operations.

Fleet Drivers Need Detailed, Computerized Logs

Transport companies face special challenges when it comes to maintaining files, records, and databases. It’s essential for fleet managers to use ELD (electronic logging device) compliance solutions so that drivers don’t run into problems with HOS (hours of service) violations. HOS fines and penalties can be costly but are easily preventable. Plus, today’s sophisticated fleet software can not only keep accurate records but helps with developing efficient routes, keeping track of vehicle maintenance needs, and monitoring fuel usage.

Retain Old Emails and Tax Documents

Even as companies work to keep their business relevant that does not mean discarding everything that is not current. Most industries have their own rules about how long to retain company email messages. To make sure nothing is lost, most organizations store all official communications for at least three years. When storage space becomes a problem, many companies turn to using cloud-based services or outsourcing the entire task to a third-party provider. Accounting departments routinely keep several years of business tax returns, work papers, and relevant documents for their own purposes but also to meet legal requirements. Should government authorities conduct an audit, it’s essential to have as many documents on hand as possible, particularly those that serve as proof of expenses. The most common disagreement between tax authorities and corporations is related to what qualifies as an allowed expense and what does not.

Maintain Meticulous Files on Accidents and Injuries

Even if an insurance company’s rep or an independent investigator documents an accident that takes place on your property, be sure to make your own written record of such incidents. Write down every known fact, names of all participants, etc. Take photos and video recordings of the pertinent areas. Business owners are routinely shocked when they compare their own notes to later versions produced by insurance companies and plaintiffs.

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