2. Include Electronic Communications
The internet and a host of wireless devices have opened new avenues by which to conduct business. Be sure all of your electronic communications are included in your retention schedule, whether they reside on PCs, servers, backup tapes, mobile devices or flash drives.
3. Keep Track of Older Documents
It's common to move older or out-of-date materials to basements or off-site storage. If you suddenly need a particular document for an audit, can you locate it in a timely manner (or at all)? Be sure your archiving system includes an index of stored documents, along with the location of each one. Better yet, digitize archived records so you can quickly access them online.
4. Work With Vendors Whose Standards Match Yours
If you outsource key functions like production and fulfillment of marketing materials, be sure your business partners' experience and procedures are a good fit for your compliance needs. At minimum, you should be looking for a partner that:
- has experience working with companies in highly regulated industries and is thoroughly familiar with compliance issues;
- can capture, index, securely store, archive and retrieve all versions of both paper and electronic documents created, modified or ordered through their systems;
- has a system that controls user access and ordering privileges and ensures that all required disclosures and addenda accompany any marketing materials ordered; and
- offers timely on-site or off-site destruction that protects confidential information by using modern shredding equipment, highly secure processes and certification of destruction to create a legal audit trail.
Taking steps now to ensure compliance will protect you from unpleasant surprises down the road—and let you sleep a lot better at night.