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The Implications of Corporate Downsizing for Records Management

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Many records managers today are struggling with the effects of corporate downsizing. How do you navigate this challenging path on limited resources?

Whether it’s because of decreasing revenues, shrinking office sizes or the move to remote working, many records managers today are struggling with the effects of corporate downsizing on what they do. From reduced storage space for physical records to fewer resources available with which to execute records mandates, these issues can’t go ignored.

The most literal issue in downsizing situations is space. Most records managers maintain records rooms containing filing cabinets or boxes filled with paper records, both historical or ongoing. With space reductions, records managers face a number of options for reducing their organizations’ records footprints: digitization, offsite migration or destruction.

Digitization can be a useful tool for records managers negotiating smaller spaces, as the process entails taking paper records, converting them into digital files and then properly destroying the original physical documents. Some companies have the internal resources to digitize — but most don’t. Many organizations undergoing downsizing will need to turn to outside help to digitize their records.

Offsite migration is an alternative solution. While space may be reduced within an organization, there’s always room with records storage partners. When the window for downsizing is short, as is often the case, offsite migration is usually the most viable option.

Finally, destruction may be a useful method of reducing storage footprints — that is, if the methodical destruction of expired records isn’t ongoing already. While destroying unneeded records may help meet new space constraints, it needs to be done with proper guidance and legal advice.

Related to space issues, time and money are two other central factors in corporate downsizing situations — and none of the above options is free or instantaneous. This often leaves records managers in the awkward position of having to ask for either time or money, but not both. Digitization and destruction require time and personnel, and offsite migrations cost money.

In the long term, corporate downsizing — and the options it leaves for records managers — is intended to save money. But in the case of records management, the old saying remains true: “You’ve got to spend money to save money.”

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