Where is the valuable intelligence in your business

Business information, whether electronic and hard copy, holds valuable intelligence about your business activities.

Losing this valuable information, or being unable to access it quickly when needed, could result in loss of contracts and lower profits.

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Save time, reduce stress, increase productivity – save your documents before you start

One of the biggest issues I find when I’m setting up systems and processes for small businesses is that no matter how well the systems and processes are designed, no matter how easy it is to use them, we still get people who save their my work to “My Documents” or the “Desktop”.

Why do they do this?  Well I figure it’s because its the easy and lazy way out; that when people create a new document or spreadsheet they start working in it straight away and only think to save it at the end of the day or when they have to run for a train or bus to go home or at some other time when they need to leave their desks – for a meeting say or to go to lunch.

At that time they look at the clock and think “Oh *<#^! where should I save this work. Oh I don’t have time to think about that.” So the item being worked on gets dumped in a hurry on to the desktop or in My Documents because that is the quickest thing they can think of.

Next time they go to look for that item, it’s not in the proper place in the directory structure or file plan. So they waste searching for it, and get frustrated along the way.

We all do that at some time. But there is a better way.

You need to learn a new habit.  OK  – I know! But don’t turn off and leave this page right now because the new habit I want you to create is actually quite easy.

When you create a new document save it straight away to the proper place in your directory structure.  Do this before you start putting any content into it.

Then next time you want to edit it or add to it, you can find it right away because its saved in the correct place.

Remember it takes time to create a new habit so you might have to do this a number of times before it comes naturally.  But it will be worth it and I can guarantee that it will save you time.  You’ll no longer waste time searching for documents you’ve saved “somewhere” and either ruining your eyesight peering at your desktop screen trying to find the title of the document you’re working on or scrolling up and down your My Documents folder searching for that document ( What did I call that document?)

Using standardised titles for naming your documents will help – that’s another story for another day.

Meantime the time you save by not searching for those stray documents so you increase your productivity and cut your stress levels


Good recordkeeping enables your business to operate after a disaster

At the hearing into the collapse of the CTV building following the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011, a structural engineer said that he was unable to present his company’s records of a CTV fitout.  He said the records were lost after his former offices in a Victoria St building was severely damaged in the quake and later demolished.

This is a classic example of poor recordkeeping and shows how a lack of planning for continuing in business following a disaster can impact on a business.  Would you feel confident about using this particular engineering company after hearing this statement?

A disaster doesn’t have to be as major as the Christchurch earthquakes.  It could be a flood following a superabundance of rain or a fire that is restricted to a particular building or even a failure in your own office computer(s).

Planning to recover from a disaster so you can continue to operate your business is not often high on the list of priorities for businesses.  But this instance about records relating to the CTV building is a good indication of why it is so important to have a recordkeeping system that includes a good backup system.

In the ‘good old days’ before computers and when the only business records were paper records,  letters, reports, meeting minutes etc were typed up in duplicate, sometimes triplicate.  This meant there was always a backup copy (though unfortunately records were still lost from time to time in situations where all the multiple copies were held in the same office).

Today’s equivalent is a paper copy and an electronic copy or two electronic copies each stored in a different place.

There are a number of options to consider for backup electronic storage. You can use CDs, USB sticks, portable hard drives or virtual storage in the ‘cloud’ such as Google Docs, Dropbox.

It doesn’t matter what backup storage system you decide to use, the key thing is that you must actually use it – and regularly.

You don’t have to keep everything – you just need to think about what business information you would need to continue to operate in the event of a disaster of some form hitting your business.

Decide on a backup policy for your vital business information and make sure the policy is followed!

Do this before you get caught out by a flood, fire or earthquake – or even a hard drive failure on your computer.