An important decision that every company must make is how and where to store records and sensitive documents. Strong arguments exist for both centralized and decentralized records management methods. Of course, there are pros and cons for each method as well. We put together some points to consider to help with deciding what method is best for your business.
How are they different?
Centralized records - all your physical documents are located in one central location. Typically the location is securable like a storage room, spare office or basement. All records generated by the business are kept in this location. The location is controlled by an individual or the team responsible for records management.
Decentralized records - the physical documents are dispersed throughout the entire office or across multiple locations. Records might be found in end users' offices, workstations or other general workroom space. Unlike the centralized records method, where the files are controlled by the records management team, in a decentralized model records are controlled by the end user creating the files.
Which one is better?
Centralized records - you enjoy the confidence of knowing all physical documents are housed in the same location. Anyone needing to reference a file would be required to contact the records management team. The file would then be checked out to that person initiating chain of custody tracking so the files won’t get lost in the shuffle. Security is the primary benefit of a centralized records management system providing much more physical control over files.
Decentralized records - keeping records at the end user’s workstation has some advantages, with ease of access being at the top of the list. The responsibility of managing the files on the end user which avoids having to appoint or hire staff to manage the records.
Which one is worse?
Centralized records - keeping records in one central location means a person might have to wait to have access to the file, especially if records storage is in another office location. Another disadvantage is the investment that comes with hiring a full-time records management staff to manage the centralized storage. Whether you hire someone new or add the responsibility to an existing employee, it may result in added expense.
Decentralized records - the most significant disadvantage to this method is the lack of security which might impact rules such as HIPPA compliance. The other issue is records availability during employee absence. If the person who retains the records is out, others might not be able to gain access and if they do, it impacts the responsibility for the file.
Choosing the best method of records management for you company is a rather complex decision. As you can see, there are many points to consider regardless of the size of your business.
That’s where we come in. Call us today to schedule time to discuss the best option for you.