Smart Records and Information Management: Pathways to Optimizing Office Space
May 15, 2012
A thoughtful records and information management program keeps your company compliant and cost-efficient. It may also mean reclaimed office space.
For many businesses, a records and information management system means dumping every scrap of paper into a storeroom—or perhaps an empty corner in the kitchen. But that’s not going to cut it for the long term.
Some would call it a happy problem in the current economy: Your staff has grown 50 percent since day one, but you’re still in the same now-cramped location. The sales team, which is often out in the field, works from one desk, and your accounting folks share the kitchenette with three vending machines and a water cooler.
What can you do, short of breaking your lease and moving? For one thing, getting smart about which records your company keeps and how you store them can seriously help optimize your office space for more room and greater efficiency.
For many businesses, a records and information management system means dumping every scrap of paper they’ve got into a storeroom—or perhaps a corner of the kitchenette, along with the accountants. But that’s no way to treat your information (or, for that matter, the people who are paying your vendors and cutting your paychecks).
Still need swaying? Consider the true costs of misplaced files. Some time management experts estimate that the average cost of tracking down a misplaced document is about $120; re-creating that document can cost $250 in company resources. In all, businesses pay an estimated $14,000 in lost productivity per worker per year because of poorly organized data, according to a recent Iron Mountain report.
One great way to mitigate or entirely avoid these unpleasant costs is to craft an ongoing, scalable plan for records and information management storage, archiving and shredding, with the help of a trusted partner. Consider these key steps as you develop your strategy.
Step 1: Who’s running this show? Establish responsibilities.
It’s amazing how much more gets done when people have to account for a project’s status. Assign roles that make it undeniably clear who’s in charge of maintaining active records, deciding what needs archiving, and destroying files at the end of their useful lives.
Step 2: You’re lost without process. Create a workflow.
Once you know who’s maintaining your streamlined records system, a workflow will help keep it organized. Decide when to file new records, when to box up older but still needed materials for offsite archiving, and when to shred or erase obsolete materials. Be clear about where you’ll store each type of record. Calendar dates for each task will help with follow-through.
Step 3: Now comes the fun part. Start cleaning.
Once you’re clear on what materials to save onsite, save offsite, and destroy (see “Relocating? Consider These Smart Records and Information Management Moves,” another Knowledge Center feature article, for help with this), it’s time to do some spring cleaning. (And you can do this type year-round.) First, simply clear away nonessential records—that will kick-start the effort. If you have a huge amount of discarded documents, you may need to hire the services of a secure shredding facility.
Step 4: Quick. Define an “active” document.
With the garbage gone, it’s time to separate records needed for day-to-day functioning from those you need rarely and that can be archived. The day-to-day records are the only ones you’ll keep in-house; store everything else at a secure offsite archiving facility. When you use a third party as your host, you’ll likely save your company on its bottom line—and your employees valuable work hours they can better spend on core business tasks.
Step 5: Spread the word. Train, train, train.
Now that you have clearly organized records and well-used office space, you’ll want to keep it all going. Train all new hires whose jobs touch on records and information management in how to use your system—in fact, make sure all your employees understand not only how to use the system but the consequences for your company if they don’t.
With your records sorted, cleaned and stored, you’ll probably be surprised at how much space you’ll gain—and just how difficult it is to lose a record that lives in an efficient system. You’ve made a valuable decision, as you can now put that higher-rent space to more productive use—and maybe get a foosball table or two in there, to boot.
Keep the Office Transformation Alive
Having a smart records and information management plan is key to creating a more cohesive, productive and enjoyable place to work. Here’s how to keep the momentum going:
- Make sure all your employees know about and use the central file storage system.
- Train everyone in their records management roles and responsibilities.
- Delegate one or two people to oversee this enterprise. While each employee needs to do his or her own filing, file managers remain essential for successfully maintaining the program.
Iron Mountain Suggests: Get Help If You Need It
If your company’s do-it-yourself approach to records and information management has landed you in a dark alley of noncompliance and inefficiency, Iron Mountain can help you:
- Reduce costs. Take inactive or totally expired records offsite, saving valuable office space.
- Improve security. Maintain the highest standards of security for your offsite archives by using only vetted couriers to handle your company information.
- Stay compliant. Achieve and maintain legal and regulatory compliance more quickly, since you’ll be locating and retrieving documents more easily.
Do you have questions about records and information management? 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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