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The Complete Guide to Financial Records Management

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The Complete Guide to Financial Records Management

With the right system, you can improve productivity and bolster compliance at your business

Doing business today tests document management practices as much as anything else. Invoices, contracts, checks, tax documents — all pour in and out of the workplace and require varying lengths of storage. Unpreparedness can decrease workflow efficiency and open up compliance risks. This is why financial records management is so important. These practices can help your company sort, store, retain, and destroy records appropriately. As a result, you can cut inefficiency and protect against liability. This guide will help you find the solution for you, implement it, and reap the benefits.

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The value of financial records management


Poor or inefficient data organization practices can lower data quality. That adds up to eye-watering sums. Gartner estimates poor-quality data costs businesses an average of $12.9 million per year. Financial records management can trim inefficiencies. It can also boost productivity and shield your business from costly compliance violations. Start by determining whether your business uses accrual or cash in its accounting. IRS guidance can then help determine the right way to keep records.

    Types of records to retain:

  • Gross receipt records showing your business income
  • Purchase records showing what you buy and resell to customers
  • Expenses records showing the non-purchase costs of business
  • Travel, transportation, entertainment, and gift expense records tracking special, potentially tax-deductible expense categories
  • Asset records showing when and how you acquired non-consumable business materials
  • Employment taxes records, which must be retained for at least four years

Tools for financial records management


Hyland offers automation solutions for easy invoicing. Its Brainware intelligent capture can rapidly digitize documents. At the same time, it makes those documents instantly searchable and extracts key info.


Kofax provides insightful and compliant financial data. Its AP Agility solution automates accounts payable processes. That can reduce costs and tighten internal controls. Meanwhile, its Process Director can improve productivity and eliminate inefficient paper invoices.


SmartVault provides secure, easy-to-use online document storage and management. It can automate document workflows, integrate accounting software, and help meet strict compliance standards.

Read more about the fundamentals of financial records management in “How to Organize Financial Records: Digitization and Storage Best Practices."

Did You Know? Document management systems can automate some of the admin work on your plate. Take a look at our list of the best document management software for small businesses to learn how they work.

Record retention schedules

Knowing how long to keep records can be confusing, and the threat of an audit can exacerbate the issue. The Chamber of Commerce generally recommends maintaining finance documents for three to seven years, depending on the situation. But legal and compliance needs may demand you maintain records for much longer.

    Common retention schedules

  • Invoices, receipts, and expense reports: at least three years
  • Tax documents: three to seven years
  • Financial statements and quarterly reports: at least seven years, and ideally indefinitely
  • Contracts and statements of work: at least through the duration of the relationship, and ideally indefinitely

Strategies for financial records management and retention

Invest in an intuitive and industry-appropriate document management system.

Most document management systems can improve records workflows regardless of the industry. Some providers, however, design tools and features catered to your industry.

Create a timeline for all financial records.

This helps track how long to retain each record. That prevents confusion around document lifecycle steps. Further, applying sunset dates to new documents whenever possible can maintain informational clarity.

Incorporate security and user permissions features.

Your document management system should encrypt data during storage and transfer. This helps to prevent bad actors from intercepting it. It should also incorporate user permission controls to limit access to sensitive information.

Read more about records retention schedules in “How Long Should You Keep Financial Records?

Financial document management software

Financial records management tackles long-term storage. It serves as a complement to financial document management software. These solutions aim to reduce the time workers spend searching for active-use documents. They do so through intuitive file structures, metadata tagging, and index and search functions. They also often offer cloud storage. That powers remote collaboration and improves security, which helps maintain compliance. Finally, they include usability features to accelerate retrieval and productivity.

    How to implement document management software

  • Map out the document life cycle (creation, storage, retrieval, and archiving)
  • Design a standardized filing system with naming and tagging conventions
  • Assign staff to oversee the system
  • Audit processes in search of further optimizations and compliance vulnerabilities

Key features for financial document management software


  • Document tagging, sorting, and searching capabilities
  • Flexible cloud storage
  • Accelerated document capture via optical character recognition (OCR) and automatic tagging


  • Intuitive user experience
  • Process automation
  • E-signature support
  • Version control and rollback


  • User permissions controls
  • Data encryption
  • Audit trails
  • Automatic compliance checks
  • Document lifecycle tracking
Read more about what CPAs need to know about financial document management software in The CPA’s Guide to Financial Document Management Software.

Choosing financial document management software

There are scores of effective financial document management software solutions on the market. But not all are right for your business. First, review feature sets for compatibility. Next, use free trials to test those features. Finally, examine how your document management system (DMS) supports your staff.

    Accounting-specific DMS features

  • Fast, accurate, and secure document scanning to speed up workflows
  • Invoice management and accountant ID validation to prevent missed revenue
  • Security features such as customizable user roles, access conditions, audit trails, and encryption

What to consider


Before locking in a budget, try testing DMS options. Free trials and more affordable price tiers make this easier. Doing so will help workers find the most useful features to them and flag any they don't need. The more time you spend testing, the more confidently you can invest in your DMS.


Document management software produces value by trimming workflow inefficiencies. An intuitive interface will kickstart this process. Deep customization takes it over the top, allowing your business to maximize efficiency. Employee feedback becomes easier to incorporate. That accelerates the creation of low-learning curve templates and workflows. Additionally, accessible forms can reduce the chance of human error.

Scanning Volume

Consider how much scanning your business currently executes. How will implementing a DMS affect that scanning volume? If it might balloon, consider upgrading to a more powerful scanner. Many include software that aids in the parsing of data pulled from scanned documents.

Read more about how to choose a financial document management solution in “Accounting Document Management Software: What Financials Pros Need to Know.”

Did You Know? PCMag described fi-8270 as “a fast, accurate document scanner for mid-range to high-volume loads.” Click here to read the full review.

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Streamline financial records management with Ricoh fi Series Scanners

Those in the market for a financial records management solution have no shortage of options. We take great pride in having spent the last 50+ years researching, designing, and developing some of the most advanced and powerful electronics in the world, including our professional grade fi Series scanners.

Built to purpose for the most demanding document handling jobs, fi scanners are capable of processing tens of thousands of pages per day at the highest levels of accuracy. Their intuitive integration capabilities with all existing work suites minimize time-to-value for businesses looking to invest in tools that will pay dividends for years to come.

The fi-8170 is Ricoh's top-of-the-line offering, with the powerhouse scanning abilities to match. The fi-8170 can scan documents, checks, photo IDs, invoices, and more. In fact, it can intake anything up to 7mm thick at a speed of 70 double-sided pages per minute. That's despite a low physical footprint. Click here to learn more or shop the rest of our production scanner line.



Note: Information and external links are provided for your convenience and for educational purposes only, and shall not be construed, or relied upon, as financial or legal advice. PFU America, Inc. makes no representations about the contents, features, or specifications on such third-party sites, software, and/or offerings (collectively “Third-Party Offerings”) and shall not be responsible for any loss or damage that may arise from your use of such Third-Party Offerings. Please consult with a licensed professional regarding your specific situation as regulations may be subject to change.