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Michael Thomas

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No Simple Tools for the Paperless Office

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, May 11, 2010 @ 06:14 PM

There’s a great post over on Mashable – 5 Simple Tools for a Paperless Office. It’s really a great cheat sheet on how to use some really cool, useful software and online services to reduce paper and become more efficient, but I found myself reading it and thinking about the clients that I’ve worked with over the past ten years. These are all very cool tools, but I don’t think that they’re going to really take you any closer to a paperless office.

More importantly, not one of them is going to ensure that you’ll actually be able to FIND something when you go to look for it. And therein lies the problem facing businesses today. Document Management tools have some fantastic bells, whistles, and doodads, but do any of them actually do anything useful?? Honestly, out of the whole list presented, the mention of Google Apps for Business at the footnote is probably the most useful of all of the items.

Google Apps for Business is missing one key component, however. They still have added the viewer. Plug Google's fancy document viewer (you know, the one they use for Google books), into Google apps and bam! – Now you’ve really got a solution for a Paperless Office. You’d be able to tag metadata, search, and view documents from anywhere that there’s a browser.

Except… There’s no audit trails. There are still no annotation capabilities. There’s no really great, easy way to efficiently scan large volumes of documents to Google Apps. Perhaps most importantly, the more consumer-like these tools become, the biggest thing that’s missing isn’t feature functionality- it’s guidance and best practices. Scanning files isn’t hard. It’s preparing them for scanning, indexing them, and making sure that people can find them that makes it difficult. 

Tags: Paperless Office, Document Management, Document Scanning, Google

The State of the Long Island Employment Market - Guest Post from Jason Banks of Lloyd Staffing

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, May 06, 2010 @ 06:34 PM
Jason-BanksThe following Guest Post is from an interview I recently conducted with Jason Banks, Executive Vice President of Lloyd Staffing. Lloyd Staffing is and is one of Long Islands most respected Employment Service Providers offering recruiting, hiring, retention and outsourcing, and is also a Strategic Partner of Shoreline's for staffing Document Scanning Projects.

Recently, I had an opportunity to ask Jason some questions about the Challenges and Opportunities in Long Island's Employment market, as well as how businesses can use the market to improve their operations. Here's What Jason had to share:

Lloyd Staffing LogoWhat are the biggest challenges facing Long Island Employers today?

Putting aside the current economy, which is starting to change and gain momentum, the long-term challenge for local employers is plugging the talent drain of fleeting Gen X/Gen Y workers needed to replace aging baby boomers who retire and move elsewhere.  This is a dynamic we have heard about, read about and had conferences on but there have been very little solutions presented. Both of these generational opposites may have trouble justifying remaining on LI if compensation is not competitive with cost of living.  This region is consistently faced with the challenges involved in relocating employees to this region.  LI companies need to make the investment in training and retaining their talent resources while exploring creative solutions to keep  an active talent pipeline.  Also, watch for the rapid increase in employees looking for virtual work options and consulting engagements rather than full-time direct employment.

Where are the biggest opportunities for those looking for employment?

Technology, Healthcare, Engineering and Sales.  Digital advancements and Economic Stimulus have ignited change in Healthcare, Technology and Engineering/Construction. Long Island employers are seeking versatile professionals who have dynamic skill-sets in these industries.  The need for Sales professionals has been steady for the last 8 months and now the mid-level sales management has come back. 

How can businesses use the market to help them improve their talent roster?

It has been a buyer's market, although we are now seeing small changes such as competitive offers and buy-backs. This is still a very good time to take advantage of the talent marketplace and acquire talent that might otherwise not be available financially, emotionally or intellectually.  However, don't bargain hunt; recognize value, take time to meet candidates, conduct exploratory interviews, bring on temporary staffing help to help with seasonal or project needs and keep talent close to your brand. Do not put your organization in the position where the market comes back, talent is scarce and you are stuck saying "we should have connected with the talent/candidates we often look for when we had the chance."   Recognize that good hires can be made at every level, but be mindful not to send the wrong message to your remaining staff.  Make it clear that such hires are not luxuries, but can put the company at a competitive advantage, during and after the economic recovery.

Thanks to Jason for taking the time to share his thoughts on the state of the Long Island Employment Market. Be sure to visit Lloyd Staffing for all of your Employment Service needs.

Tags: Document Scanning, Business Strategy, Healthcare

What is Archive Storage?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, May 04, 2010 @ 08:59 AM

Bueller... Bueller... anyone want to take a crack at this "exciting" topic?

Archive Storage is a bit of a confusing term for many people, and oftentimes people will use the term to describe one of two things:

  1. Archival Storage of Paper Documents - If you're looking for long-term storage of paper documents, then Archive Storage is likely the way to go. Our Facility, for example, is designed to accommodate long-term retention of documents for a low-monthly fee. Pricing is based on the volume of information to be stored and the retention requirements (how long you need to keep the files), and is expressed as a Price Per Month, Per Box. For Bankers Boxes (1.2 Cu. Ft.), our monthly storage price is usually less than $.30 per box per month, but pricing can go both up and down significantly based on the total volume of information that you have.
  2. Archive Storage of Data Files - Especially now, Paper is not the only thing that you need to keep for a long time. For Data Archiving, there are a number of solutions and services available, but there are very few of these solutions that offer true long-term, permanent data archiving. If permanent Archive Storage of Data Files is important to you, then storage on Optical Media, is likely the most appealing option.

If you need to preserve your Paper Documents for a long time, we can certainly help. Contact one of our Archive Storage Experts to get pricing for your specific project. For more information about long term archiving of data, visit our partner Data Archiving Corp.

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Tags: Document Management, File Storage, Records Management

Looking for File Storage in Manhattan? Read this first.

Posted by Michael Thomas on Mon, May 03, 2010 @ 02:20 PM
Manhattan File StorageI'm sure you've heard all the stories about the high cost of real estate in New York. Well, they're all true, and possibly the biggest waste of space in the Manhattan Skyline is the amount of space that companies are still using to store Boxes of files. In spite of the slumping real estate market, the cost per square foot in Manhattan is still astronomical, and understanding that there are much more affordable alternatives can lead to some significant savings for companies.

For example, I recently met with a Law firm that was using about 400 Sq. Ft of Prime Commercial Space on 7th Avenue for file storage, and this was just on one of their six floors! Even Now, with Midtown Manhattan's Class A space posted an average asking rental rate of $64.26 per square foot in the first quarter of 2010, the monthly cost for File Storage for this firm is $2,142.00 - Not exactly the best use of funds when you consider that you could store the same 2,000 Boxes offsite for less than $600.00 per month.

In the end, if you're still keeping old files in your high-priced office space, now might be a good time to reconsider this strategy. Your bottom line will thank you!

Photo Credit: Aturkus

Tags: File Storage, Records Management

Document archiving - where should you start?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Sun, May 02, 2010 @ 03:11 PM
DOcument ArchivingWhen starting to archive documents, many people find themselves unsure about where to begin. If you don't have a detailed records management policy in place, it can be difficult to come up with a document archiving strategy on the fly. There are a few simple approaches that you can use, however, they can make this process a whole lot easier.

1)      Archive based on creation or destruction date

Date-based document archiving is perhaps the easiest and most straightforward way to deal with document retention. This strategy requires that you either know the date that the document was created, the scheduled date at which the document will no longer be required, or ideally both these pieces of information. Date-based archiving is particularly effective for financial information, as any request that was made to review the file would likely be based on the date on which it was processed. In some instances date-based archiving also make sense when a particular transaction closes, opens, or begins a new phase in a client or vendor relationship.

2)      Archive based on frequency of retrieval

The decision to archive documents based on the frequency of retrieval may be made independent of date-based archiving or in conjunction with that strategy. Choosing to archive based on frequency of retrieval involves understanding how often content is requested and grouping information in a way that it can be quickly accessed based on how likely it is to be required. And archiving strategy based on the frequency of retrieval is perhaps the most difficult one to deploy, and will typically be a subset of either a date-based or retention-based strategy.

3)      Archive based on retention requirements

many documents that are created at a very low likelihood of retrieval. For this type of content archiving based on retention requirements is likely the most effective option. Retention-based archiving requires only that you know what you have in possession currently and how long it should be retained for. Two very common applications for retention-based archiving are mortgage lending (with a relatively finite term) and specialty medical records (where the patient may have a low chance of repeat encounters).

Keep in mind that the document archiving strategy you choose to deploy will likely be the same whether you're storing physical files or scanning your documents. In most instances the document archiving strategy will be largely dependent on the type of content being considered (financial, regulatory, etc.), and less dependent on the media in which the content is stored.

If you're looking for assistance with determining the appropriate document archiving strategy for your business, you may want to discuss your needs with one of our Records Management Consultants to verify your plan and ensure that you're making the right choices.

What is your strategy for document archiving? Are there any approaches that we've missed? If you can share your best practices with the community, be sure to add them in the Comments!

Photo Credit : Gadl

Tags: Document Management, Records Management

Long Island Document Scanning Services

Posted by Michael Thomas on Sun, May 02, 2010 @ 01:38 PM

long islandDo you have lots of paper that you're looking to convert to Digital Images?

Are you frustrated by the lack of access to your documents? Have a general feeling that paper is slowing your business down?

Shoreline Records Management is Long Island's Leading provider of Document Scanning Services. We're located in Medford, New York, and have been providing Document Scanning Services since 1994. Our team can help you to convert paper to digital images for as little as $.04 per Page. 

For many businesses on Long Island, the cost of office space is a primary reason to consider scanning, but the real value comes from improved access to information, and improved collaboration. Our Team has over fifteen years of experience with:

  • Medical Records Scanning
  • Legal File Scanning
  • Blueprint Scanning
  • Microfilm Scanning
  • and much, much more.

In addition, we've worked with many leading Long Island Companies to help with scanning projects in Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, and Human Resources to help eliminate paper and improve operating efficiency.

If you're considering starting a scanning project, take the time to speak with one of our Solution Consultants about your project first. It may turn out that outsourced document scanning services can be a huge boost to your productivity and your bottom line.

Tags: Document Management, Document Scanning, Document Imaging

How much does it cost to store a box of files?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 @ 10:09 AM
Store box of filesI'll cut right to the chase on this one - Document Storage in our Secure, Off-Site, Climate Controlled Facility starts at $.30 per Bankers Box (1.2 Cu Ft.) per month and gets cheaper from there. That means that you can store up to 100 boxes for just $1.00 Day and not have to worry about tripping over your files or losing something along the way.

The other day someone told me that they would consider storing their files with us, but that they were going to use a Self-Storage unit instead to help save space. Really?? You would rather have to pack up your own files, bring them to a Storage Unit, stack them In a little room and have to go there every time you need a file?

I was surprised to hear that this client thought that it would actually be more expensive to store their files in our warehouse than in a storage unit, so I did some quick math.

Let's take a smallish Storage Unit - Five Feet Wide - Five Feet Deep and Eight Feet High - a total of 200 Cubic Feet. If you actually want to be able to move around in there, let's assume that you can use about 60% of the available space for storage - 120 Cubic Feet - Just enough to store 100 Boxes. And the price? In the New York Area, specifically on Long Island, You can rent one of these units for about $45.00 Per Month.

But you'll still have to go there and rifle through these boxes every time you need a file, wasting valuable time and energy.

Now, you could send the same 100 Boxes to us, and we'll store them in our facility for you for $.30 each per month. That's $30.00 per month, and when you need a file, we'll do retrieve the file for you and either scan it to you on-demand or deliver it to you the same or next-business day. You'll be saving 50% on storage alone each month!

Before you make a decision on where to keep your files, take time to speak with one of our Document Storage consultants and see how much it really costs.

Tags: Document Management, Records Management

Who Owns Document Management in Your Company?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Wed, Apr 28, 2010 @ 05:54 PM
Free Records Management bookI'm not the first person to say it won't be the last but there's too much jargon and too many buzzwords thrown around by vendors today. Regardless of the technology that you're looking at, these are just complicated acronyms used to describe the different ways you can go about doing simple tasks. In the document management space I find that people are frequently bewildered by terms like ECM (Enteprise Content Management), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), WCM (Web Content Management), and RIM (Records and Information Management). If it's this hard just to identify what we're going to call document management, imaging how difficult it is to define who should take ownership of this function in an organization.

Let me try and make this simple. Document management is the practice of organizing and accessing information relating to the transactions and operation of an organization. If you don't like my definition that's fine, but we'd likely be arguing about semantics at that point. There's just not much more to it. Document management is simple, and in many instances it doesn't require dedicated or complicated software, or a department of people to manage it. Effective Document Management requires some planning and foresight to understand the challenges relating to two things - Organizing and Access.

For many organizations of a certain size, the person who's primarily responsible for document management has a title that actually makes sense, Records Manager. In these organizations the records manager is charged with defining detailed policies and procedures relating to the retention and retrieval of information. Oftentimes the records manager has specialized training and experience and really understands what's required to effectively manage the information of an organization. These organizations stand to benefit over time from the expertise only a true records manager can provide.

In the majority of organizations, however, this responsibility is left scattered across many departments and ultimately falls on senior management (within a regular corporate structure), an office manager (within medical and legal practices), or the business owner themselves (in many small businesses or Professional Firms). In addition to these roles many companies find ways to leave IT professionals, HR managers, and accounting staff each with a piece of the document management pie. In these instances the results are often less than stellar, as the lack of centralized focus creates fragmented processes and presents the organization with undue risk.

Think about your business. Do you have a detailed records management plan in place? Does your staff utilize a consistent methodology for organizing and accessing information? Are you adhering to retention schedules? If the answer is no, then now is the time to re-examine your document management plans. Remember to keep things in perspective - document management requires a little bit of strategy to deliver fantastic returns. If you don't have the expertise or the resources in-house, consider relying on a partner to fill the role of records manager and help with your document management needs. Whatever option you choose don't underestimate the value that an effective document management strategy can have, and don't let a lack of strategy be your excuse for inaction.

Tags: ECM, Document Management, Records Management, Business Strategy