How to Sell a Long-Term Records Management Program
January 13, 2012
Need to get colleagues on board with your vision for a new records management program? Here’s how to get their buy-in on a strategy that provides your business with the tools and resources it needs to meet secure storage, easy retrieval and confidential destruction goals.
What does everyone in your organization—from senior management to support staff—have in common? They all seek job security, especially in this economy, and want to work at an organization that takes care of its people and customers. How then do you sell your colleagues on the notion that your company needs records management so badly that it should tap an outside expert to create a data organization plan? (Oh, and by the way, this expense hasn’t been earmarked in the current budget.)
The simple answer is that everyone in your organization should be able to focus on performing their jobs rather than wasting time, and money, looking for documents that should be accessible in seconds. In fact, just managing the paper side of information overload can equate to five work hours a week. And, at five hours a week, businesses can spend about $5,750 annually per administrative support person—and about $14,250 per business or financial manager—simply on managing hardcopy. Using an average of these two figures, a company of 500 employees would be spending around $5 million to manage hardcopy information! With these stats, it’s hard to argue with a plan that will make the company more efficient, especially if performance-based bonuses are on the line.
Counting Dollars and Sense
Before selling top management on your vision for records management, you need to get a feel for the entire organization’s data storage needs. To do this, informally canvass department heads regarding their data flow to get a better understanding of what’s going on companywide.
You may need to explain the basics of records management to the uninitiated, making the case that a records management program is long overdue. Sure, it’s going to cost money, but the 17th-century proverb “A penny spared is twice got” applies here—and then some.
As you start to share the advantages of better records management, don’t forget to cite these attributes—especially to records management newbies.
A well-built records management system offers:
- Well- sorted, labeled, stored and secured files
- Elimination of time- and money-wasting duplicates
- A smart retention system: After a prescribed number of years, files are archived and preserved, or are securely destroyed to free up storage space (including both physical and electronic space)
- A higher standard of compliance
- Adherence to “green” standards; less dependence on paper clutter will ultimately reduce your company’s carbon footprint
Sizing Up the Need
Managing, storing and retrieving data requires resources and expertise. A trusted partner can offer both, in addition to supplying top-notch solutions and facilities for protecting and accessing tapes. The best way to get started is to find a partner willing to provide an initial consultation at minimal or no cost.
A well-designed records management program will quickly demonstrate return on investment (ROI) and keep the operation humming. Once the program is in place, you’ll be a hero or heroine with the powers that be—as well as those colleagues who may have been wary at first. And the savings will be quickly recognized throughout the organization.
Winning Over the Corporate Suite
Temporary-workforce specialist Kelly Services® offers guidelines for selling your records management program up the corporate ladder:
- Messaging is a must. Fearlessly develop a strong, well-founded and convincing argument. Think out all possible aspects of your idea as best you can to state it authoritatively.
- Hitch your wagon. Be sure your idea relates to current employer issues, goals and objectives. By “attaching” your idea to current goals, you’re pushing the right management buttons.
- Consider your POV. Structure your idea from the decision-maker’s perspective. Whether you’re presenting your idea orally or on paper, focus on your listener’s point of view, not your own. This is particularly important if the executive you’re pitching must bring the idea to a committee.
- Accentuate the positive—within reason. Minimize the downside quotient. Never disregard the risks, but minimize these probabilities in your presentation. If you focus on the negative, the people you’re trying to persuade will, too.
- Work the crowd. Try to generate some positive momentum with peers and management. You need some professional “friends” when selling an idea.
Iron Mountain Suggests: Four Must-Ask Questions
Whether you develop your records management strategy internally or with an outside partner, you must address these basic questions:
- How are we supporting our business processes?
What are your key processes, and what documents support them?
- What risks and costs do we face when documents can’t be accessed quickly—or go missing?
In these cases, what is the potential bearing on your revenue, levels of customer satisfaction, partnerships and regulatory compliance record?
- How are documents being captured and retrieved?
There are many questions to answer within this one: For starters, which files and what specific documents within those files should be imaged—and when in the document lifecycle should this happen? How should the documents be indexed to facilitate retrieval? Finally, are your current access methods sufficiently secure and auditable to document chain of custody?
- What are we spending on document storage and management?
How much space, money and staff resources are currently tied up in storing and managing documents onsite?
Do you have more questions about your firm’s records management 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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