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3 Simple Tips to Organize Your Plan Documents

Have you ever distributed old retirement plan documents to your employees? It can happen to anyone – especially if you don’t have the information properly organized.

In nearly every company, files are accessed by more than one individual, which makes it easier for papers to get lost in the shuffle. Additionally, many plan documents are in the process of being restated and the new documents will come with an updated Summary Plan Description (SPD). Distributing an old SPD could not only result in negative PR with your plan participants, but it definitely does not look good if you are ever audited by the Department of Labor or the Internal Revenue Service.

Here’s how you can get started on your quest to systematically arrange your retirement plan documents with just a click of a mouse, or if you prefer going the paper route, the pull of a file.

Tip 1: Organize your Electronic Folders The outline below offers a few shortcuts that help preserve time when saving documents electronically:

Remember the underscore in front of the Current folder will keep that particular folder first in the sort order, which makes it easy for everyone to access. Also, keeping the Archive folder in the same location makes locating prior plan documents effortless. Remember, in addition to any current documents, plan sponsors should also keep the historical documents stored in an organized manner in case there is an audit or other request.

Tip 2: Utilize Electronic Storage Services

Electronic storage of documents can be extremely inexpensive. If you are going to keep your documents stored at your fingertips, it is important to make sure you understand who has access to the information, how the information is being backed-up and the security of the information. If your organization doesn’t have efficient offsite redundant backups it might be a good idea to put this framework in place before storing information electronically.  If you find that electronic storage isn’t the right fit for your organization, the hard copy documents can be kept in binders, but make sure that your hard copy files are just as organized as your electronic ones.

Tip 3: Test Your Process

Ask a co-worker to help you test your filing system, both the electronic and hard copy. If they can’t find the file quickly, odds are you might need to re-evaluate your system.

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