Shredding or Storing: The Eternal SME Dilemma

When it comes to the issue of technological advancement, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have so many new options to explore than just a few years before. While a lot of people automatically assume one is talking about trends like cloud computing, telecommuters and business intelligence, perhaps the greatest advantage of running an SME in 2018 is the combination of big data and present-day analytic tools. This might even go so far as to resolve the dilemma of shredding vs. storing to everyone’s satisfaction.

The main reason is the fact that it has forever solved the fact that some of the unnecessary information needs to be shredded, while other should be kept. The problem with shredding is that it is so final and you never know which piece of data might become incredibly valuable in the future. However, even with these amazing data storing capabilities, a lot of SME owners are still failing to gather all the data they can due to ignorance or lack of effort. That being said, there are several data areas you should definitely focus on.

  1. Personal employee information

The first thing you want to focus on as an employer is your staff, seeing as how they are the key component of your company’s success. Now, while not all of the information here is of the same importance level, there are several things you need to focus on in particular.

You need to start with their employment history, seeing as how it will later help you in your hiring policies. For instance, if you know the profile of the employee that outperformed your expectations, later on, you will be able to identify similar traits or employment path.

Next, you need to keep track of all their medical file information that is available, due to the fact that there are some serious restrictions to what you, as an employer, are allowed to know in the first place. Apart from this, you also want to keep track of their payroll files, in order to get better insight into your own company’s finances. This also includes various benefits and pay rate changes, which could make any future financial projection that you decide to make much more accurate.

  1. Customer service interactions

The greatest problem with keeping insane volumes of data is the one revolving around the space required for such a thing. Luckily, this can be solved with the choice of the right format. For instance, audio files, no matter how low-quality they are, always take more space than their textual counterparts. Because of this, with the right business transcription platform on your side, you might be able to keep customer service interactions in much larger volumes.

Needless to say, while human transcription is still a tad more accurate than the AI governed one, the speed and overall efficiency of a sophisticated transcription algorithm are your only choice when it comes to customer service. This is particularly true, seeing as how an algorithm has a much easier time recognizing localized spelling and has an efficient way of checking for congruence.

  1. Tax records

Numerous guides and walkthroughs suggest that you should cling on to your old tax records for at least seven years. While this may be the case when it comes to accounting, as far as analytics are concerned, you have no reason for deleting them at all. Short-term tax record keeping is useful in the situation where you are at risk of getting audited or if a stock you placed your bet on fails to return in the long-run.

On the other hand, there is no statute of limitation on fraud, which is why you need your tax records intact for as long as you’re in business. This is particularly important if you’re not running a sole proprietorship and you fear that one of your partners might not be an as conscientious an entrepreneur as you are.

  1. Property purchase, improvement and warranty documents

Finally, for legal reasons, you need to keep all your property purchase or improvement documents for as long as you can. Nonetheless, if you don’t see the point or feel like you absolutely need to delete them, you need to keep them for at least six years after you make a sale. As for warranty documents, while they may seem useless as soon as they expire, it is sometimes wise to cling on to them, so that you can make a comparison later on while dealing with a similar product or service provider. Who knows, this piece of information might even come useful as leverage during negotiations.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, in the era when you can just buy more storage space at an affordable price, there really is no reason to delete (shred) anything. The problem with hoarding is the fact that it consumes physical space and that you won’t be able to find an item you’re looking for, which is seldom the case in the digital environment. Still, when it comes to storage, you need to be as careful and resourceful. Therefore, you need to have a well-organized system and a method for reducing the size of the stored data. Only then will you be able to solve the eternal SME dilemma we addressed in the introduction.

Dan Radak is a marketing professional with eleven years of experience. He is currently working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies. He is also a coauthor on several technology websites and regular contributor to Technivorz.