Spring Cleaning

As we near the first official day of spring, I’m struck by the deluge of “Spring Cleaning” offers popping up in my inbox. The sheer volume of ‘time to clean!’ reminders has forced me take stock of my surroundings. After tidying up a few things here and there I turned my attention to client storage. No, I’m not talking about the various boxes of tradeshow booths, tchotchkes, and general paperwork neatly labeled and organized in a back room. My focus was drawn to corporate books—the hardcopy record of an organization’s governing documents, legal paperwork, etc.—and whether everything was up-to-date there.

I am often within client’s electronic records as part of their day-to-day management, and we have in place robust disaster recovery and business continuity plans, so I knew that information would be current and well secured. As I eyed the large binders within the filing cabinet though I also knew that I needed to complete an audit of our hardcopy records as well. Clients count on us to retain vital corporate records, which carries with it a duty to ensure primary, secondary, tertiary, and additional redundancies are in place in the event the unthinkable happens. I was also reminded of our accreditation through the AMC Institute which also carries record keeping/business continuity requirements.

As I stared at the bulging binders I began to work through a list of the minimum items that must be housed within while also noting those additional items which should be included. The top five must-haves:

5. Insurance policies. I always receive both electronic and paper copies of our insurance policies. This is one crucial set of documents that I always want access to in one form of another, especially if we’re considering how best to back-up data in the event of an emergency!

4. Active vendor agreements. I define active as current vendors or those who’ve provided recurring services within the past year. Every 12 months or so I go through the vendor binder and purge any old records, verifying of course that we do have a fully-executed electronic back-up on hand.

3. Meeting minutes. Minutes of the Board of Directors, or governing body, at a minimum should be backed-up with hardcopy records. I usually house these in a separate binder that’s housed as part of their corporate records. Otherwise, there’s just too much paper for one binder to hold!

2. Corporate filings. Operating paperwork filed with state and federal agencies should always be kept close at hand. While most government entities have their redundancies in place, it can cost you a lot in time and money to secure additional copies.

1. Governing documents. Any and all legal documentation that governs your organization must be kept readily available in a variety of mediums. This ensures sufficient back-up in the event of a catastrophe while also providing you quick and easy access if needed. On more than one occasion I’ve relied on the hardcopy records when my system has been with IT or otherwise unavailable for a short period of time. Murphy’s Law dictates that it’s always this short timeframe when a Board member or legal counsel is going to request a reference point.

In addition, all membership records should be actively tracked and routinely audited. The above is meant only to reference the 2-3 binders that back-up significant corporate and operational records. Membership folders are a beast in of themselves, but equally important to actively manage.

What else do you keep close as part of your corporate records?

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