Nine Reasons to Outsource Records Storage (and how to do it)
August 19, 2011
Are boxes of records turning your workplace into something you’d see on a cable-TV reality show? Here’s why it makes sense to seek some outside assistance.
One currently popular television series visits the homes of those who collect too much. Could your office star in the office sequel? Just guessing here, but that’s probably not how you want your business to achieve its 60 minutes of fame.
When file cabinets and boxes are encroaching on your workspace, it’s time to consider a separation. By working with an outsourcing partner on this task, you’ll free up space while actually reducing the ultimate cost of maintaining records. Here’s how:
A well-constructed outsourcing plan will help your firm:
- 1. Identify and prioritize vital information. Sending files offsite compels you to review them for relevance—what do you need to keep close at hand and what do you need only occasionally that can easily live offsite?
- 2. Boost efficiency. When you ship out extraneous records, you’ll improve business processes such as customer service. By removing less useful, inactive information you’ll have fewer, more relevant records on hand, fostering faster overall workflow.
- 3. Improve security. A trusted partner trumps your storage space in terms of data protection. For example, a top-drawer offsite storage facility can offer intrusion detection and alarm systems, fire detection and suppression equipment, and in some cases, onsite security personnel.
- 4. Ensure disaster recovery and business continuity. Not all disasters or interruptions are on the scale of a Hurricane Katrina or the devastating earthquake in Honshu, Japan earlier this year. That said, disasters of a far smaller magnitude could grind your operations to a sudden halt. The quicker you can get your hands on your records, the quicker your business can resume operating.
- 5. Comply with federal and state regulations. An alphabet soup of federal and state regulations mandates the proper protection—and destruction—of sensitive data residing in your records. Outsourcing can help you meet these mandates—and provide proof of compliance.
- 6. Better fulfill legal discovery and audit requests. Stacks of dead or rarely used records can thwart the quick fulfillment of discovery and audit requests—increasing the likelihood of penalties and legal fees.
- 7. Make better use of your talent. How many employee hours are spent away from your core business, maintaining and managing records? And how many dollars? It makes much better sense for those employees to work on more critical missions than finding a seven-year-old client agreement.
- 8. Reduce costs. How much space are you renting simply to give your records a home? Put some desks, a meeting space, or even a yoga class in that square footage—or rent it to someone else and shrink your office footprint to suit your operational needs. And as far as the space you’re renting to store those files offsite, rent only what you need: Some vendors offer a pay-as-you-go plan—you’ll pay only for the storage space you need, when you need it.
- 9. Gain control. Properly labeled, indexed and stored records afford better end-to-end information management. Search, retrieve and locate records more quickly than if they were stored in rickety filing cabinets in a backroom or in unmarked boxes at the local mini-storage facility.
Choose a Partner, Make it Happen
Once you decide it’s time to separate, you’ll want to carefully vet some records storage vendors. (See sidebar for some key criteria.) After that, it’s simply a matter of investing some sweat equity and time. Decide which records are going into storage and pack them into boxes.
Typically, your partner will provide barcodes. You affix these on your boxes to index their contents, ensuring availability on demand; It’s a clever bridging of digital and physical file processes. Once you’ve finished, dial up your trusted third party partner to arrange for pickup and delivery to the storage facility.
If a complete e-records environment is your eventual goal, consider having your vendor create a scanning schedule for your offsite files. Doing this opens the door to faster, easier electronic access when the day comes that you need a file again.
With a great partnership in place, records management is no longer a nagging headache. It becomes a strategic tool in optimizing your daily operations.
Do you have more questions about your organization’s outsourcing options? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or Contact Iron Mountain’s consulting services team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your information management challenges.
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Iron Mountain Recommends: How to Pick a Partner
The partner you choose makes quite a difference in the way your records are handled, indexed, secured and protected. Here’s what you need to have in place before clearing out your storage room and announcing Lunchtime Yoga:
- Excellent security means you have sole records access. Round-the-clock monitoring and physical access measures keep records safe. Fire detectors and other mechanisms ensure your records’ physical safety. While most facilities claim such safeguards among their advantages, tour the facility to see for yourself.
- Ongoing scanning services. Look for a vendor who offers scanning services. You’ll appreciate this when you need one of those files in hours, not this afternoon or tomorrow.
- A controlled environment. The conditions under which records are stored—and even their distance from the floor—are critical to their integrity, especially for long-term storage. Know the protocols of a potential storage facility before signing an agreement.
- Access on-demand. A true partner provides constant on-demand records access. For example, Iron Mountain’s Web portal provides you with access to powerful records access and retrieval tools. Use it to label, describe, locate and retrieve a record or records.
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