Records Management Blog | Practical Records Management

You Can Be Like Apple

Posted by Michael Thomas on Fri, Jun 11, 2010 @ 10:24 AM

Basso On BusinessThe following Guest Post is written by Rob Basso, President of Advantage Payroll Services, Long Island's Payroll Leader. In addition, Rob is also the Host and CEO of Basso on Business, a leading monthly business video program. The program highlights innovative local businesses and helps visionary entrepreneurs overcome real-world challenges to grow their busines. Shoreline is proud to be both a client of Advantage Payroll and a Sponsor of Basso on Business, and thankful to Rob for sharing his time with our readers.

The press Steve Jobs and Apple have been receiving lately is not accidental and they are not lucky. They have just trumped Microsoft, their arch rival, as the largest software and technology firm in the world. I am not a Mac user, in fact, I have exclusively been a PC user for years and even divested myself of my iPhone because I was so used to my Blackberry. However, it is hard not to pay attention to them and maybe give them a second chance. But why is that the case?

They have done a superior job making users part of a community. Yes, they spend a ton on research/development as well as advertising, but their ingenuity and ability to make people feel part of something is really their strong suit. Think about it; do you really need an application that simulates nose hair trimming (that may exist I did not check, but you get my point)? Apple was popular with the underdogs and underground users for years; now they are the darling of the populous. You too can be like Apple.

As a small business owner you can use the same techniques that the multi-billion dollar giant used to become the premier brand on the planet. Maybe you will not be known in every nook and cranny of the world, but you can be relevant in the community or market you serve by making people feel like a part of something bigger than themselves. Creating this type of a connection with your audience/buyer/client can be done on a budget and successfully by any type of business.

It is not what you do, but why you do it that inspires people to buy whatever it is that you are offering. If you talk about what you believe in and focus on the WHY you will create momentum that will make it impossible for people to buy from another vendor. The proof is clear when I use the Basso On Business concept as an example.

"Basso On Businesses, Inc. and its products and services will serve to inspire growth and positive change in the national business community. It will focus on forging a strong community of like minded businesses leaders to assist all entrepreneurs in navigating their way to success. Using unique web video, television, interactive live events, social media, speaking engagements and books we will be the leading force in building better businesses."

Putting the why first and BELIEVING in your message makes all the difference. Take a critical look at your WHY and re-craft your personal and business mantra....sales will soar.

Tags: Business Strategy

Records Management Failures Create Business Failures

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, Jun 03, 2010 @ 09:47 AM

Imagine, if you will, a company with a perfect business model. For the sake of being specific, let's imagine a company that makes those little paper umbrellas that are served in tropically-themed drinks. In addition to making the best possible companion for a poolside cocktail, this company has found the best leadership, has the most sound and profitable business plan, and has its coffers full of capital from willing and wealthy paper-umbrella-enthusiast investors. It has a large clientele already in place in the form of bars and resorts.

It owns two warehouses on both coasts, and has worked out wildly lucrative deals with their suppliers. They have a successful e-commerce platform, are scoring number one in web searches related to paper drink umbrellas, receiving well over a million hits per year. Their employees are satisfied and happy with their pay and their pension, and the company is about to go public and expand to the competitive and profitable world of the international paper-umbrella business. Investors could not be happier. Jim Cramer (the Mad Money guy) is yelling at you at the top of his lungs through the TV set, telling you to Buy, Buy, Buy! Nothing could possibly be going any better for this company.

Overflowing File CabinetsExcept for one little thing: the founder of the company was strangely averse to filing and hanging on to documents. As a quick fix, he found an empty room on the third floor of the office, painted the walls black, and simply dumped all of the company's records in the room. Whenever a record was created, it was unceremoniously dumped into this room, never to be seen again. When it became impossible to access the room from normal means, the founder had a system of tubes installed so that employees could dump their records into the room without needing to open the door.
So, as the company expanded, the room kept filling up. Every time an invoice was created to order products from a supplier, it was dumped in the room. Every time a contract was signed or drawn up, the copies were thrown down the tubes. Every time the customer made a purchase from the company's website, the receipt was sent down to the room, never again to see the light of day.

Still, this minor bit of oversight couldn't hurt the company, right? The fundamentals and the statistics were simply too sound. It could afford to look the other way on such a petty issue as records management and still maintain its expansive success.
Unfortunately, in spite of all of the fantastic potential, there are at least five ways that this business can encounter problems because of their laissez faire approach to records management. Let's take a look:

1. The business can be the subject of a government audit: There are many laws and statutes that regulate what types of records an organization or business must keep. If a business fails to meet these standards, the resulting fees and penalties can undermine the value of favorable earnings statements.

2. The company's headquarters can become inaccessible: Due to a malfunction in the paper-umbrella manufacturing process, the offices may become inaccessible for weeks or months at a time. Because all of the records of the company were stashed on the floor of this room, and there were no tracking systems in place, the company isn't able to reconcile its debts or track its customers or shipments, resulting in decreased efficiency and poor customer service.

3. The business can be sued: If an angry customer who has nearly choked to death on a paper umbrella sues this company, and this company cannot produce proper evidence of waivers, disclaimers, company policy notices and proof of insurance, the company may lose a major lawsuit and be forced to pay settlements that they otherwise may have avoided.

4. The business can waste money buying new space for the files: If the first file room fills up, the business will need to rent a second, and a third, and a fourth, and so on, all the while spending more and more money per month on costly rent for the office space. The business does not have an individual assigned to decide an expiry date for the documents, so they continue to pile up, with no end in sight.

5. Inefficient Access can Create Customer Service Issues: Without any proper Records Management, the company's employees spend enormous chunks of their time searching for the proper points of reference and critical files. Thousands of potentially valuable man hours are thrown down the drain.

So, as demonstrated in the points above, even though this company had the perfect business model, the best employees, and the largest customer base, it can easily experience growing pains on those five (and many more) counts. The seemingly mundane and tedious chore of keeping the records was neglected in favor of lower short-term costs, and this company is now paying the price. This should illustrate to you the importance of establishing, maintaining, and enforcing an effective Records Management strategy.

Tags: Document Management, Records Management, Business Strategy

Document Management Grants are Now Available

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, Jun 01, 2010 @ 06:10 PM

One of the biggest challenges for Non-Profits, Social Services organizations, and Government Agencies looking for Document Management Solutions is the challenge of obtaining funding. It seems that not a day goes by where funding isn't being cut, and the competition for precious dollars is continually growing. Recognizing this challenge, Shoreline has worked with our partners to develop a unique offering to help organizations obtain funding through Grants.

The good news is that there is a vast array of Federal, State and Foundation grants available - many of them with increased dollars from The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) - to help you invest in Document Management technologies which can allow you to serve more people and mange your applications and initiatives with increased efficiencies.  

Document Management Grants are now available, and our team can help you find the money you need to make your project a success. Shoreline Records Management, has partnered with the Grants Office experts to help you navigate the grants landscape. In cooperation with one of Our Business Partners, Hyland Software, we offer this FREE service to help determine what grants are available that could make a difference to your organization.

There are no specific qualifications, and our service will help you determine what funding may be available to make your organization more efficient with no risk or obligation. To get started, complete our Document Management Grants Analysis Form Today and we'll begin to research the available sources of funding to help you address your most challenging document management issues today.

While We can't win the grants for you, we can help you move from an interested applicant to a compelling candidate. It's time to make your old technology work better for you. With this Free Service, you'll be able to:

• Develop insight into the grant funding landscape for IT spends
• Better identify, obtain and manage grant dollars
• Improve transparency and service

Sign Up Today to take advantage of this service and find out how we can help your organization today!

Tags: Document Management, Records Management, Business Strategy

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

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

Why I Love Hubspot (an Unpaid Endorsement)

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, Apr 08, 2010 @ 11:00 AM
Hubspot

I'm almost hesitant to write this post because I feel like I'm sharing a competitive secret, but I need to share this with our clients and fans. I need to tell you all about a tool that has helped us to significantly improve our business because I think that it can help many of you as well.

I need to give a big shout out to the Folks over at Hubspot. We've been a client for just over a month now, and If you're looking for a solution to help you grow your business and increase your exposure, then look no further than Hubspot. Their Inbound Maketing tools have been a huge asset in helping us increase our exposure and grow our business.


In the span of about Five Weeks, We've been able to increase our Organic Search traffic by over 60%, and we're now ranking in all of the major search engines including Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Most importantly, we're finally starting to rank for terms that are relevant for our business. For Example, if you do a Yahoo Search for "Records Management" you will find us right on the first page, ranked ahead of Iron Mountain, who is a Public Company with far more marketing Firepower than us. Not bad for a company with 40 Employees.


I've always know that our firm was the best at Document Scanning and that our Records Management Services and Document Management Software offerings provided value to each and every client that we've worked with, but thanks to Hubspot's Proven Methodology, I feel like we can really market ourselves and get exposure on a level that I just didn't believe was possible.


Thanks to the entire team at Hubspot for their help in getting us going! I can't say enough about what a great service they provide, and I'm very grateful for them sharing their tools and expertise to get our Inbound Marketing program delivering results. We look forward to continued Success.

Tags: Business Strategy

Permanent Removal Charges : A Dirty Little Secret

Posted by Michael Thomas on Fri, Mar 12, 2010 @ 07:15 AM

Permanent Removal Charges are a little known facet of a Records Management Contract, and worse yet, they're often hidden by an incumbent document storage vendor until you want to move your boxes out of storage.

When it comes time to relocate or shred documents that have been entrusted to a document storage company, typically there is a nasty and little known technicality that suddenly shows it’s ugly face. I prefer to call these hostage fees, but those others more clearly define this as “highway robbery” but in the context of an agreement, I've seen them referred to as Permanent Removal Fees, Document Removal Fees, or Early Termination Clauses (who defines "early?"). 

Whatever you call it, the bottom line is, these nasty fees will have a negative impact your bottom line.

So how did you sign up for this? Well, At some point, between the smiling sales person and the signed agreement a sneaky clause identified the permanent removal charges. It's easy to overlook because it seems benign until you multiply these fees by hundreds or even thousands of boxes you have in storage. Per your agreement, moving your documents now requires a huge fee - sometimes as much as $7.00 per box on top of the standard retrieval charges.

It’s an unfair situation, especially if the vendor has poor service or they have lost records. It seems counterintuitive that you should have to pay to remove your boxes from storage or possibly move your storage account to a different vendor.

How would you know that you are subject to permanent removal charges?  A careful review of your contract may reveal this clause. 

Because some vendors will charge up to two years of storage costs when you request terminating the relationship they rely on the fact that it may be too costly to move the documents, so you wind up staying.

If you are in a contract with permanent removal charges, there is something you can do about this.

1.  Find out immediately if your contract contains a permanent removal charges clause or “permout”. 

2.  If so, to determine how much it could cost to move your boxes or terminate, multiply your boxes by the fee.

3.  Contact your document storage company to find out whether you can negotiate a lesser rate, or if there is a period of expiration.

4.  Talk with another document storage vendor to determine if they will  negotiate on your behalf with the incumbent.

5.  Understand that this is an item to look out for in any new agreement you consider for document storage.

Note: Shoreline Records Management is sharing this information because we believe that our client’s information is their property, and when the client feels it’s time to remove, scan or destroy their records, it’s the client’s decision.  Our policy is that we do not and never will hold our client’s records hostage!

Tags: File Storage, Records Management, Business Strategy