Shredding Key for Overwhelmed Businesses
Businesses that have been storing paper records for years often face an onslaught of storage issues as old documents are damaged, or the organizations simply run out of space to store new files.
The Qualities of a Top-notch Shredding Partner
When choosing an offsite shredding service, here’s what to look for:
Certified excellence. A certified document destruction partner is your best bet, so your service provider should be AAA certified by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID®).
Compliance expertise. The service provider’s experts should be constantly on top of changes in legislative, operational and technical issues related to your firm’s business category—this is your most important hedge against fines and other penalties.
A keen eye on costs. A good shredding partner will provide only the services that you need, so you can manage costs while mitigating risks. Its program monitoring tools (online applications are best) should make it easy for you to assess how well the program is meeting your budgetary and compliance objectives.
Responsive service. An effective offsite service provider assumes all secure shredding responsibilities so you and your employees can meet your core operational goals. For this reason, 24/7 phone and online service is essential.
A commitment to the environment. The ideal offsite secure shredding provider will support your organization’s environmental goals through its recycling efforts. A green shredding and recycling program reduces pollution and preserves landfill space while also saving trees, water and oil.
Businesses that have been storing paper records for years often face an onslaught of storage issues as old documents are damaged, or the organizations simply run out of space to store new files. While many pundits use this opportunity to discuss the paperless office, a recent report from local newspaper the Bellingham Herald said businesses turning to electronic records still need to deal with old paper files in the proper manner. To accomplish this, they need to invest in shredding services to ensure the secure destruction of outdated paper files.
Before addressing the shredding issue, the report said companies need to evaluate how they deal with paper records storage. Back rooms filled with boxes and cabinets used for document storage can be a major fire hazard. If such an incident occurs, it not only deprives companies of the records they have worked so hard to maintain, it also puts their workers, facilities and productivity at significant risk. As a result, the way paper documents are stored needs to be addressed for businesses to handle their records.
According to the report, businesses need to determine how they would respond if paper records caught fire. If it would simply be an issue of frustration because of the blaze, then the documents probably are not that important to keep anyway. If the issue would be critical because the records in storage are that important, companies should find a better storage method.
Outsourcing paper records can be an ideal solution under such circumstances because the company can reduce its storage expenditures and hassle, while also removing risk.
The report said evaluating the importance of documents is critical because it will determine how to go about shredding documents appropriately. The report said businesses going through this process must understand the regulations for different types of data before committing to shred documents. For example, some tax documents need to be stored indefinitely, while business records from a minor transaction may only need to be kept for a few years, according to the report.
Once businesses have decided what they can shred, they need to figure out the best way to do it. Typically, large-scale projects are well-suited to be outsourced to a records management company. Most can either come to the office location or have the paper shipped to their headquarters. Either way, businesses should evaluate the security ratings of the third-party provider and make sure the services match their needs. From there, investing in shredding should be relatively simple and a secure way to dispose of documents, according to the news source.
While the report recommended businesses turn to electronic storage methods before the shred all of their excess records, it is important to note that most experts agree it is impossible to create an entirely paperless office. While it is possible to store many document types electronically, businesses will almost always need to maintain some type of paper storage system to ensure they are able to maintain all of the records they need.
To accomplish this without running the risks of premise-based storage, companies can outsource their document storage to a third-party provider. Typically, these specialists offer environments that are carefully controlled to optimize conditions for paper storage. This prevents records from decaying over time and also positions businesses to avoid data loss due to a fire, flood or other similar disaster. Paper storage environments are typically equipped with advanced fire suppression, flood prevention and access control systems to protect data.
Iron Mountain Suggests:
When state regulators come calling, send in the shredders. Consider the following steps and safeguards when choosing a vendor.
- Know the lay of the land. Learn the federal and state regulations that apply to your industry and your company’s records.
- Don’t be shy: Interview your partner. You need to gauge the company’s knowledge of (and track record with) regulatory compliance guidelines.
- Who’s behind its safer shredding? Your partner should show proof that its employees have background checks and security clearance. Look for a “triple-A” certification by the National Association for Information Destruction.
- Tell them about it. Develop and distribute your records-destruction rules and regulations.
- Leverage, leverage, leverage. A well-constructed shredding plan can spur even those departments not directly affected by compliance laws to consider eliminating unneeded records—and to better organize what they want/need to keep.
Do you have questions about secure shredding? 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 specific challenges.
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