Records Management Blog | Practical Records Management

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

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

HR Document Management - There's still paper there?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 @ 12:09 PM
Over the past two or three years, I've noticed a significant increase in the number of human resource departments looking for document management solutions to help them reduce the amount of paper and improve their overall business process related to access and maintenance of employee files. To me, It makes perfect sense that human resource departments are looking for document management solutions, when you consider all the filing organization and storage that goes on inside, and the increased pressure to do more work with less resources and time.

Human Resources - PeopleLast night, I was at a dinner with some friends and we were talking about our businesses and the areas in which we help our clients. During the discussion I brought up how we've recently finished scanning over 1,000 employee files for a large insurance firm. One of my friends, who owns a Professional Employer Organization, or PEO, asked the question "there's still paper there?" I confirmed this fact and shared with him some more about just how many projects we're seeing in this space recently, and he mentioned that he always operated under the assumption that most HR departments were early dealing with documents in an electronic format, and he was surprised to find how much paperwork we're seeing HR departments still working with. Well for those of you who are not in HR, you may be surprised too.

When I first started working with human resource departments I quickly learned that HR is not really one department, but rather an amalgam of many different business units loosely tied together under the term "Human Resources". Human resource departments may include payroll, recruitment, benefits, employee relations, employee development, risk management, and many other specialized departments. While many, HRIS systems and HR service providers offer fantastic solutions for their specific area, the main employee file is often still printed and stored in traditional file cabinets to avoid scattering the various documents throughout disparate systems.

Document management offers a unique opportunity to address this challenge. Human Resource Document Management allows you to create folders and organize data based not only on the employee but also into subsections for medical benefits, correspondence, training, emergency contact information, payroll and more. In short, an effective document management solution will allow you to create in a digital format what the employee folder provides in a physical format by tying together loose pieces of employee data into one easy-to-use system. In addition to helping to consolidate this information, a document management solution can help human resources to operate more efficiently by reducing the time spent accessing and searching for files and essentially adding capabilities to existing HR software.

In most cases when we talk about human resources document management with the client were talking about our enterprise-level solution, OnBase. OnBase is unique because it offers a number of features designed to integrate with other applications which is a common concern in HR. Whether you're using PeopleSoft, Lawson, or any number of other products OnBase allows you to scan paper files and integrate electronic documents into groupings in folders that can be retrieved directly through those application interfaces. Equally as important are the capabilities of OnBase to incorporate workflow to help drive HR related document processes. Workflow helps automate a number of the repetitive tasks that HR administrators deal with on a daily basis by allowing improved employee self-service and automated notifications of changes in status and other employee related updates.

In some cases, the budget or need for a full-blown document management solution is just not feasible right now. For HR departments that aren't ready to make an investment in a document management solution however we also offer outsourced scanning services for human resource documents to help archive and provide immediate retrieval for employee files. This option allows HR departments to box up and ship us both active and inactive employee personnel folders which we will scan, index, and provide access to via either CD or ImageSilo, our hosted document management solution. For many companies, outsourced backfile scanning services provide an excellent first step towards making the transition to a more robust document management solution.

In the end, human resources is like many departments within companies today, technology is takingthem closer toward the paperless office, but paper still provides a valuable medium for archiving, storing, and retrieving information on a daily basis. Through the use of a HR document management solution or outsourced document conversion services, though, firms can help reduce cost and focus on improving the quality of service to employees instead of spending time searching for documents.

Tags: Paperless Office, Document Management, File Storage, Records Management, Document Scanning

Scanning Mortgage Files post-close. Does it make sense?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 @ 05:32 PM
As someone who spent the better part of the decade working with lending companies on improving loan processing through Document-Driven Workflow, I've always thought that it doesn't make much sense to scan alone file after it's closed. Recently, however, I've realized that I was wrong. While the benefit of scanning loan files post-close may not be as strong as driving the process using workflow, there's a lot to be gained by scanning loan documents after the loan has been closed. Let's take a look at three main reasons why:

Loan Sale - Although the market in 2010 is not quite as hot as it once was, the loan sale industry is still alive and well. For Originators, increased competition and a wider pool of available options for buyers has forced competitive differentiation in any way possible. The ability to provide closed loan files in a convenient image format is one way to do this. Scanning mortgage loans post close and creating a series of PDFs or TIF images allows for faster transfer to the secondary market, meaning faster access to payment.

Mortgage File ScanningServicing - Loan Servicing is one piece of the business that never seems to change. In spite of all the advances in online technology, there are still a number of questions that require reference back to the original loan files. Being able to access these files directly through the origination system in an image format, while customers are on the phone, improves client satisfaction and reduces costs for the servicer.

Foreclosures - The dreaded "F" word has led many lenders to go back and image archived loans. When a Lender is able to quickly provide all the required paperwork relating to a loan, they stand a better chance of success during foreclosure proceedings. In fact one of the most common causes for judgments against mortgage companies is the inability to produce an original note. Even if the note is available, many lenders have found that the onerous task of rifling through countless papers to find that precious document has been a costly process.

I continue to be a proponent of using document management and workflow for mortgage lending, as the efficiency gains by capturing documents accurately during the loan origination process provide significant savings and increased compliance. However, for those organizations that either have cultural or process-related obstacles to implementing workflow, the concept of scanning loan documentation post-close still holds great appeal. In a more competitive marketplace, the improved customer service and reduced wait times that scanned files can provide leads to happier borrowers, and as market conditions improve, hopefully more repeat business.

Tags: ECM, Document Management, Document Scanning

Scanning Documents Saves Space, but at What Cost?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Wed, Apr 21, 2010 @ 04:25 PM
One of the most common reasons that people start scanning documents is because they think it can help save space. While it is true that document scanning will help reduce the physical footprint required to store files, most of the time reclaiming space should not be a primary driver for starting a document imaging project. If you need to reclaim space in your offices, or if you're moving your facility and require a new place to store your documents, you should probably consider outsourcing the storage of your files before you look at document scanning.

Shoreline Records Management WarehouseI've seen some people in the document imaging industry make a business case based on the square-foot charges related office space and the overall overhead and operating costs of the facility, which may seem compelling, but the truth is that the ROI is just not there. If you consider that the average banker's box holds approximately 2,650 pages, and that the average price printed for scanning is around seven cents per page, you're looking at $185.50 to scan that box of files. In comparison you could store the same banker's box in a record storage facility like ours for about $.30 per month. That equates to off-site, secure document storage for 618 months for about the same price. 618 months that's 51 years! Well beyond the typical retention requirements for business documents.

The real reason to start a document scanning project is to facilitate ACCESS to documents. While the storage of documents and the conservation of space is not usually a good metric to base your return investment, the concept of improving access and retrieve ability to your important business files should be the force behind your document imaging project. Immediate access to corporate information often leads to better decisions and better customer service, both of which have positive effects on the bottom line of the organization.

Keep in mind as you start to explore the concept of document imaging that it's not the solution for all of your business records, and that you can use a hybrid approach and scan only those files that will be retrieved on a regular basis. If no one is ever going to look for and retrieve the file it's probably better off being put a box and archived to be retrieved at a later date. On the other hand, if documents are going to be retrieved on a regular basis, and they're retrieval has an important impact on business operations, you should consider investing in scanning those files. Another reason to consider scanning files, is if you can use the images to drive the business process or transaction related to the documents. By using images to drive process, in a workflow for example, you can reduce the likelihood the file will be lost and also reduce the latency involved in the processing of those documents.

Whichever option you choose, always be sure to keep in mind the real return on investment and make sure that your making the best financial decision for the storage and access of your corporate records.

Tags: Document Management, File Storage, Records Management, Document Scanning, Document Imaging