Forget about how frustrating it is to know you’ve got a document stored somewhere but just can’t find it. There’s a cost to that headache: The average company spends $120 to search for a lost document.
Need to replace a piece of paperwork that you’ve lost somewhere? That runs your department $250 per item.
Those figures come from research by Iron Mountain, the document-management company.
If you often struggle to find invoices or vendor correspondence, those numbers stack up – in both time wasted and storage costs. Good news: Iron Mountain recommends just a few steps to reduce paperwork storage costs and time spent searching.
1. Set up a retention schedule. More than most departments, A/P has a sizable mountain of records it needs to retain, from sales and use tax returns to copies of W-9s and 1099s.
But in the quest to keep thorough records, it’s easy to keep too much – and then you have to comb through all those extra files to find what you need.
If your company doesn’t have a timeline in its records-retention policy, now’s the time – especially if you’re approaching the typically slower season.
Another reason to consider a purge of ancient docs: They can come back to haunt you during an audit. Even if an item’s outside a state’s or IRS’s statute of limitations, you may accidentally hand it over to an auditor with a batch of other info and open some costly floodgates.
2. Hunt down excess copies. Once records are limited to those you’re required to keep on-file, there’s another stack you’ll want to weed out: multiple copies of the same item.
The average piece of paperwork’s copied 19 times. If A/P and Purchasing each have the same items clogging up filing cabinets, it may be worth cutting one group’s to save on storage costs.
Of course, if losing your copies means you’ll have to visit their office (or vice versa) to check on something, it’ll only eat into those savings.