Recordkeeping is important for many industries. However, cemeteries have to meet extensive recordkeeping requirements that last for all eternity. In this article we’ll explore why it’s important for cemeteries to go paperless and how document management can dramatically ease the burden for these organizations.
When Documents Have to Last for All Eternity
Most companies are required to store their documents for several years. Document retention rules generally depend on the specific regulations that apply to each industry. But one industry has to keep records for all eternity: the cemetery industry.
Many cemetery records date back hundreds of years, but destroying these records is never an option regardless of how old they are. Burial records are important to keep for the future for many reasons. Family members, genealogists, and researchers are usually the type of people who require access to this information.
A lot of people only equate cemeteries with burials, but the business is a lot more complex with a huge record-keeping requirement. People often want to be buried together, even though they die years apart from each other. This means that memorials are often started many years before they are completed.
It’s also possible for someone who holds the rights to a plot to have someone else buried there. And on occasion, bodies must be removed to be relocated to another cemetery. In all of these instances, it’s absolutely necessary to have precise records.
The Trouble with Paper Records
A lot of cemeteries have to store old paper records that date back more than 100 years. These paper records have to be handled with care because they are fragile. The problem with paper is that it doesn’t last forever, so it’s necessary for cemeteries to find a way to salvage the information they have collected over the years.
Depending on the age of the cemetery, there may be handwritten records that are barely legible. Some cemeteries keep duplicate records at separate locations in order to protect the information in case of a fire or flood. However, the records may not match up exactly, especially if they were created by hand.
Paper Records Are Difficult to Access
It’s difficult to access specific paper records quickly. It usually takes time to find the right information even with a well-organized filing cabinet. Whether family members or genealogists are tracking down information on people who have passed away, it usually takes cemetery staff some time to locate the information when they use paper records.
Paper Records Require Extensive Storage
It’s not difficult to store paper records in filing cabinets, but the problem with the cemetery industry is that the records have to be stored forever. Therefore, the number of filing cabinets is only going to grow over the years, decades, and centuries. This means that most cemeteries have to allot additional storage space just for record retention when they rely on paper records.
There Is No Room for Error
When it comes to keeping track of who was buried when and where, there is no room for error. It’s extremely important for cemeteries to know exactly what’s going on. That’s another reason why relying on paper records is a bad idea. Whether the records are handwritten or printed, it can be cumbersome and error-prone to rely on this information. It doesn’t take much to put a file in the wrong folder, and the consequences are not pretty.
Records Have to Be Kept Safe
While cemetery records may not be the target of thieves, it’s still possible for paper records to get lost. Ordinarily, losing a file isn’t the end of the world. But irreplaceable cemetery records have to be kept safe from theft, accidental loss, or damage at all times.
Storing records in electronic format will ensure that the files are preserved for all eternity. Paper records are often difficult to decipher as they age, especially when they’re more than a century old. Scanning the records and keeping electronic copies are the only way to retain the information.
Focus on the Customer
When it comes to cemetery records, family members are usually the ones who need access to them. When cemeteries embrace document management software, it’s easier to focus on the customer. With paper records, it may take cemetery staff several minutes or sometimes hours to find the information the customer is looking for. This can be frustrating for family members who are going through a difficult, emotional time.
Document management software allows cemeteries to store all kinds of information and make it easily searchable with a few clicks. These records can include autopsies, general price lists, index cards, decedents, designation of intentions, license renewal cards, complaints, investigations, and invoices. Cemeteries can also use the document management system to store information about taxes as well as employee records.
Document management is one of the most important aspects of running a cemetery. eFileCabinet can help your organization keep your records safe, secure, and easily accessible.