So Which Will It Be: Onsite or Offsite Shredding?
October 13, 2011
Are you tired of running to the nearest big-box store every time your company’s shredder overheats? Perhaps you should consider teaming with an offsite partner to satisfy your organization’s secure shredding requirements. Here’s how to evaluate your options.
For Your Consideration: A Shredding Plan 101
To determine whether in-house shredding or an outside service provider is best for your workplace, it’s wise to consider the following:
- The volume of information you need to shred each day, week or month
- The level of security your discarded documents require (e.g., With which–if any–federal or state regulations must your firm comply?)
- The cost of a do-it-yourself (DIY) solution; calculate the number of employees you’ll need, the hours they’ll spend on this task, and the time lost on core-business activities
Companies seeking to protect sensitive information and satisfy compliance regulations typically buy a few shredders and then leave it to their staff to destroy discarded documents. In terms of being secure, it’s a pretty airtight strategy—at least in theory. And for certain types of small, easily monitored offices that need only the most basic security assurances, a DIY approach can make perfect sense.
However, for most small businesses needing to uphold more rigorous security and compliance standards, a self-managed shredding solution will often fall short of expectations. Because ongoing in-house shredding is rarely considered a must-do task, and decisions about what to shred are often left to overburdened employees, your organization may face greater security risks. Also, DIY shredding provides no official certification to show regulators that your documents have actually been destroyed.
The Case for Going Offsite
Most firms handling high volumes of sensitive information—anything from Social Security and credit card numbers to extensive medical records—will come to realize that a secure shredding service provider is uniquely qualified (and certified) to meet higher security standards. In particular, medical offices, law firms and local government facilities need to be particularly vigilant about their information disposal policies and processes.
The best shredding services are National Association for Information Destruction (NAID®) certified. What’s more, a secure shredding partner can certify that your sensitive documents are reliably destroyed in compliance with federal and state regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), in addition to many other federal and/or state regulations applying to your business category.
Offsite paper shredding services destroy documents at the highest level of security. Typically, they use secured bins, which your employees fill with discarded documents; as per your desired schedule, the shredding service picks up and securely transports these bins to its facility, where the documents are destroyed under supervision. This service affords your business the ease and convenience of regularly scheduled document destruction and compliance reporting, customized to your needs. You get predictable, fixed pricing—and your employees are relieved of a time-consuming task.
According to research from the Outsourcing Institute, a company’s incentives to take secure shredding offsite include:
- Reducing and/or controlling operating costs. When a secure shredder handles your documents, there’s no need to maintain costly machinery or train personnel to watch over shredding operations.
- Freeing up internal resources. The shredding service frees your employees to focus on core business tasks.
- Accessing world-class capabilities. Offsite services can quickly and easily destroy many more documents, and with greater security, than most any in-house program.
- Better regulatory compliance. A qualified offsite shredding service can certify that sensitive information has been destroyed. For this reason, consider only a NAID®-certified document destruction service, which ensures that best practices will be followed for destroying sensitive information. This process includes your partner providing an official certificate of destruction that ensures your compliance with federal, state and local regulations.
- Reducing security risks. A NAID®-certified outside shredding service will limit employee access to personal or confidential information. Instead, trained, security-vetted professionals remove document bins and shred the documents for you.
- Getting more “green.” The best offsite shredding services handle document recycling. This service reduces your organization’s carbon footprint, while helping you better comply with environmental waste reduction goals.
Many businesses manage to avoid going through the formal process of choosing between onsite and offsite secure shredding. And for some, managing it on their own is sufficient. But for most businesses with significant security and compliance concerns, secure shredding offers unparalleled security, economy and peace of mind.
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.
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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What Every Law Firm Needs to Know About Shredding (*But May Not Think to Ask)
Choosing a Shredding Partner: It’s a Matter of Trust
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