Many Community Sexual Assault Programs have asked whether they can use electronic documentation for some or all of the material required during their accreditation review, because so much paperwork is involved. The following suggestions have been reviewed and approved by the Accreditors.
- Prime Principle: Don't make the Accreditors have to hunt for the information. Place all relevant documents in a single accreditation folder, and then create sub-folders for each accreditation standard.
- Create a cover page (either hard copy or within each standard's sub-folder) to give an overview of your evidence, indicate what documentation you are providing, and offer any navigation tips to make finding the materials easier.
- As you would do with paper documents, highlight or otherwise flag the portions of supporting documents that are relevant to the particular standard. Even better, use electronic bookmarks with links so that it is possible to jump directly to the relevant portion of a larger document (such as personnel policies).
- Save all accreditation documentation on a jump drive (flash drive) for use by the Accreditors. They prefer to be given the use of one of your agency's laptops, along with the jump drive.
- In addition, be sure that you have more than one backup in secure locations, and that the backups are updated each time you (or anyone else in your program) make a change. For example, you might have a copy on your hard drive, a copy uploaded to a server or to something similar to the Yahoo Drop Box, and the jump drive. Of course, any sensitive material should be protected, but accreditation documentation generally will not contain confidential information.
- Personnel files or client files that need to be examined by the Accreditors should still be maintained under lock and key, with references to their location in the cover pages for the appropriate standards.
- Be sure that all supporting documents are clearly labeled and are dated. Be sure to indicate clearly what is the current version of any document that has changed during the accreditation period.
- You may certainly have a mixture of hard copy documentation and electronic documentation. It is critical that your cover page for each standard indicates where each piece of evidence of compliance may be found.