Records Management Blog | Practical Records Management

Choosing the Best Box for your Docs

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, Mar 09, 2010 @ 08:19 AM

When Storing Business Records, pay attention to the type of Storage Box that you're using. There are many options available, but ideally, Documents should be stored in Easy-To-assemble, Double-Walled Storage boxes.

There's nothing quite as frustrating as watching a box of documents fall apart and then having to re-file and sort all of the contents, and a little bit of care in selecting the best record storage container can really go along way. Paige Miracle Box

I'm partial to the Paige Company's Miracle Boxes (Which we sell at Shoreline), but there are othere equally effective storage boxes out there.

Even more important, these boxes are typically less expensive than the standard, single-walled boxes you may get from office supply stores, and will stand the test of time. There's nothing that undermines an effective Records Management Strategy as quickly as using inferior boxes and having them fall apart while in storage or transport, so be sure to take the time and get this right.

UPDATE: For the sake of clarity, I wanted to also add that the Paige Miracle Box offers Double-Walled Construction and is built to stand the test of time. As a Records Management Company, I would strongly recommend the Paige Miracle Box Number 15 for anyone that's looking for or in need of Record Storage Boxes. You'll save yourself from a lot of headaches, not to mention backaches!

Tags: Paperless Office, File Storage, Records Management

Three Keys to Going Paperless

Posted by Michael Thomas on Mon, Mar 08, 2010 @ 07:27 AM

go paperlessThe unending effort by business managers and executives to "go paperless" is often looked at as a losing battle. In reality, however, there are at least three things that everyone can do in their daily work to reduce the amount of paper being created and stored in their daily workflow.

1) Consolidate the Inboxes! - There is no more important daily task list of the average professional than checking the number of inboxes that we have. The key to the paperless office, therefore, is to consolidate the number of inboxes that we have. Most of us have seven inboxes before we even give it a moment's thought - Office Email, Personal Email, Office Voicemail, Personal Voicemail, Office Paper Mail, Personal Paper Mail and Office Fax. When we add in the checking of the Personal Calendar and Office Calendar so we don't schedule an after-hours business meeting to conflict with the Kids' Soccer Game, we're already up to Nine different inboxes that we're monitoring on a daily basis.

Before we can even think of going "Paperless," we need to consolidate the number of inboxes. If you currently have More than two email addresses, consolidate. The truth is that most people don't need more than two email addresses, and great tools like Google Voice (from the efficiency-master - Google) can go a long way to helping consolidate the voicemail boxes.

2) Sign up for Online Billing & Banking - It's still amazing how many people don't choose the paperless billing options offered by their utilities and vendors. Not only is there an immediate benefit of being able to reduce the amount of incoming paper, but you'll help save the environment and reduce your risk of identity theft at the same time.

Many people are not aware of the risks associated with Paper Mail, but the numbers tell the story, and the truth is that most identity theft is done by Friends and Neighbors and most originates through paper mail. More information about the hard numbers can be found here: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/01/id_theft_survey.html , but suffice it to say that Online is the safer bet for the ID-minded customer.

3) Scan, Store & Retrieve - Paper is one of the most frequently used of the media types that we deal with on a regular basis, and it happens to be one of the most space consuming, inefficient ones. If legally possible, scanning documents can be a great alternative to maintaining hard copy records.

With the cost of desktop scanners dropping every day, and most offices having networked multi-function devices that allow for quick and easy capture of documents to network drives, scanning documents is both easier and more accessible than ever before. Take caution in the process, however, as relying only on OCR (or Optical Character Recognition) for retrieval is still not foolproof, and you'll likely want to tag your documents with some useful keywords to help you locate them when needed.

 What are your best tips for going paperless? What are the biggest obstacles you've faced? Let us know in the comments!

Tags: Paperless Office, Scanning, Enterprise Search, File Storage, Records Management, Google

Film and Fiche just can't be Found?

Posted by Michael Thomas on Mon, Mar 08, 2010 @ 06:48 AM
Many companies have old files that may include documents that have previously been saved using microfiche or microfilm. In today's environment, however, Microfiche and microfilm are no longer the standard used for archiving documents nor are they convenient for document retrieval, sharing, or printing.  The use of computerMicrofilm Reader technology has brought with it a new standard for document storage, and that is the scanned image.  If you have used microfiche or microfilm in the past you may be wondering what to do with your current archive.

We've found that while many people know that scanning can be used for paper documents, many folks are not aware that other media can also be scanned as well.  Microfiche, microfilm and aperture cards can all be easily and successfully scanned. Better yet, scanning these images into TIF and PDF converts them into useable formats that can be viewed, shared, and printed by anyone. In addition, these can be easily stored electronically and organized within a database for quick access and retrieval. 

Once your documents are converted you'll be able to easily search and review files on your computer.  Having up to date files can reduce the time spent looking for files and viewing them with readers.  Now files can easily be sent between users who need them with no problem.  Your company will be in compliance with information laws such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and other emerging standards. 

 There are many advantages of converting your microfiche or microfilm to electronic documents, including:

  • Reducing the cost and requirement of storing old microfiche or microfilm
  • Eliminating the need to use reading machines that are quickly becoming obsolete
  • Reducing the expensive maintenance on reading machines
  • Streamlining the process of retrieving files
  • Providing flexible use of electronic files - files can be emailed, printed or faxed
  • Allowing for better organization of files for faster retrieval.

Have you come up with other alternatives for dealing with legacy Film and Fiche files? Please share them in the comments and let me know what you think.

Tags: Scanning, File Storage, Records Management, Microfiche, Microfilm, Scanners

How are you protecting your Business Records?

Posted by Tom Doyle on Thu, Mar 04, 2010 @ 02:59 PM

It's 2010!!How important is your iphone, PDA, Laptop and cell phone to your ability to get your daily business done?  With each instant message, email, processed order and invoice, the importance of managing, archiving, storing and securing business information grows. The theory of the paperless office, while relatively attainable, is not practical or realistic. You receive a contract via email. It requires safekeeping and security. What do you and the six other people cc'd on the email do? Print it! Fast forward a year or five or ten. How many types of documents, paper or electronic have you created? Well, you don't have to be a public company or a 100 attorney law firm to have a real problem.  What to do and how to manage the lifecycle of your business information.

Today, depending on the industry you are in and who governs that industry, you are responsible, in fact liable and at risk if you don't protect that information or be able to produce it at a moment's notice. And, according to a recent survey by Cohasset Associates in conjunction with ARMA - The Association of Records Management Advisors, "while many organizations are moving in the right direction, research clearly indicates that for an alarming number, the efficient and systematic control over business records is still not getting done."

Why? Because it's an afterthought. Like insurance in many instances, people should have it and they know it, but they wait until it's too late or have a catastrophic event to realize it.

It doesn't have to and shouldn't come to that. Instead of boxing up your documents and putting them in a garage or a self-storage shed, or worse, your hallways, conference rooms and closets, exposed to all kinds of danger, both environmental and human, consider this - secure, climate controlled, off-site Record Storage.  For as little as .25 cents per box per month, your mind can rest easy knowing that your corporate business history is secure and retrievable at a moment's notice.

 In addition, many service providers offer additional value added services, such as scan on demand, whereby requests for documents are made by secure web portal, requested files are retrieved, scanned and securely sent to the requestor for a fraction of the cost of moving the file manually. Law firms, Health Care providers, Insurance companies, virtually any industry is a prime candidate for this undervalued, necessary function.

As a certified Record Storage partner who combines off-site document storage with Enterprise Document Management and Outsourced Scanning services, Shoreline Records Management also provides Records Management consulting services to create policies and procedures that manage the creation, lifecycle and destruction of your corporate information.

Today, every industry is regulated, and as a result of that regulation, audit control and compliance surrounding business transactions warrant the expertise of a professional Records Management company. Don't continue to waste time and money while exposing a serious risk to your business.   

Tags: File Storage, Records Management, Healthcare

Offsite File Storage is a Green Idea

Posted by Michael Thomas on Fri, Oct 16, 2009 @ 01:15 PM

Everyone is looking for a better way to do business, save money and be ‘green' to help save the planet.  Not many have started looking at their existing storage room of archives as a way to meet all of the above business goals.

I'm talking about companies that must maintain the physical copy of a record for aStack of Paper given amount of time before it can be destroyed.  A common issue with an internal document storage solution is that it takes a dedicated employee to maintain the status of each and every record.

With a professional offsite document storage solution it allows your business to reallocate that employees time to more revenue generating tasks.  Because now all of your documents are in a secure location, each individual record has been tagged and entered in to a database with directions as to how long to store it as well as a destruction date.

By shredding documents as they have met the legal storage requirement you are doing your part in minimizing the amount of paper being stored ... AND a professional document storage company will not only shred each document in to paper pulp, they will also make sure it is recycled!

How do you save money with this option?

Remember the employee that use to have to maintain your records?  Well now they are working on tasks that bring in revenue as well as you have opened up a rather large section of office space that can now be put to work as well, or even let go of if the space is not usable as office space.

In metro areas space can be very expensive, and going outside of the city can be cheaper per square foot.  Unfortunately the savings gets eaten up with the installation of security, fire proofing and the employee now having to drive across town to manage documents.

By using a professional document storage facility all of these requirements are in place and the cost is shared by everyone storing documents.  Again, you will not have to task the employee with driving out of town to pick up a needed archived record.  Make sure you find a record warehouse facility that provides an online system for requesting a document and can either e-mail you a digital version or hand deliver the document to your office.

How is document storage a better way to do business?

Simple, it's more efficient and right off the bat you are working smarter instead of harder.  Document warehousing is far less expensive than converting every document in to a digital format, and sometime that is not a legal option anyway.

Implementing a professional document storage company is by far the cheapest way to rest assured every document is safe, secure and only being kept as long as required.  If your company has a ‘go green' campaign in place you can see how offsite storage with a reputable company will be an integral part of that strategy moving forward.

Tags: File Storage, Records Management

The REAL cost of Lost Documents

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, Aug 13, 2009 @ 01:19 PM

Document management is one area of business that is often overlooked.  That is, of course, until the first time that an important document goes missing.  Lost documents can cause problems including poor customer service, inefficient operation, and legal penalties. The best way to avoid disorganization is by to ensure that you've taken some simple steps to ensure you can find your files when you need them.

Create a Document Policy

Start by putting together a document policy for your company.  This should include specifics about how employees are to handle filing, retrieving and keeping files.  Lost documents can cost your business in lost time, money and reputation.  When documents are needed for tax purposes or for litigation the outcome depends on the ability to produce accurate records.  If records are lost it can cost your company thousands of dollars.

Stay Organized

Keep your company organized by putting a document storage policy in place.  Typically, the safest and most affordable place to store older documents in at a records management facility.  There your files will be properly inventoried and organized.  If you need a document you can easily get it with a simple request.  Files are secure and easy to find - the two main requirements of any file system.

Consider all Storage Options

In addition to storing paper files you can also choose to turn your files into electronic documents by scanning.  The scanning of files can either be done internally or outsourced, depending on your preference and needs.  For many companies file scanning makes sense because it cuts down on storage costs and improves file organization.  Once files are no longer needed they can be disposed of by shredding.

Leverage Efficiency to Save Money

Lost documents can actually cost your company in the long run.  Choose a records management policy that you can work with and that properly does the task of organizing your documents properly.  Partnering with a reputable records management company will almost always save you money and provide you with ongoing support for all your records management needs.

Tags: ECM, Scanning, Enterprise Search, File Storage, Records Management

To Scan or Not To Scan - It's not a Question.

Posted by Michael Thomas on Thu, Aug 06, 2009 @ 01:23 PM

There are so many questions I get asked, but one of the most common ones is ... Should I scan my files or store them?

Well, Both options have their pro's and con's and most often, the right choice is a mixture of both.  Physical Document Storage consists of files that are organized and packed into marked storage boxes for future use. File Scanning converts paper files to scanned documents eliminating the need to keep the original documents.  The decision is up to you and will depend on several factors.

  • Type of Business - the kind of business you have may dictate which storage method works best.  For example medical records are typically kept in well-maintained folders making scanning an easy option.  Some business files may include many notes, floor plans or other items that may make scanning more difficult.  If you want to keep originals available for access, it's likely that you would choose storage over scanning.
  • Accessibility - Scanned files may be easier to work with since they can often be emailed and kept electronically.  Stored documents need to be retrieved when needed which takes time and manual labor resources.
  • Manpower - Document storage takes manpower.  If you choose to keep paper records or scan, consider using a Professional Records Management and Scanning Company to do the work for you.  You'll save time and money by using this outsourced solution.
  • Cost - Compare the costs associated with either type of arrangement.  While document storage on your own site can be expensive a much cheaper alternative is to use off-premise storage.  In most cased, off-site storage of the files is significantly less expensive than both on-site storage and Scanning. Again, a professional records management company will handle all storage and organization of documents.  They can also provide complete scanning services at an affordable price.

No matter whether you choose storage or scanning the important thing is that you've determined the need for finding a records management solution.  Pick a solution that works for your company, fits into your budget and will provide your company with the necessary documentation you need for tax purposes, legal reasons and customer support. Your business will be much better for it.

Tags: ECM, Scanning, File Storage, Records Management

How to Switch Records Management and Storage Vendors

Posted by Michael Thomas on Tue, Jul 14, 2009 @ 01:26 PM

There are two questions that I get when I speak with someone and discuss the services that Shoreline offers, and I think it's best to put this out there so that everyone considering Shoreline can know right from the beginning. The two comments are:

"I already use XYZ Company for File Storage. Is it going to be a hassle to switch? Will it end up costing me more money?" or, "I understand why Shoreline would be a great partner for us, but I have an overly restrictive contract with a large vendor that treats me like a number, not a person. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I feel trapped with them. Can you help?"

So here's the deal: It is worth switching and we can help. You can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars each month by switching to Shoreline for your Records Management and Document Shredding Service. Many times, we can even help to get you out of your existing contract and start realizing cost savings today. Even if Shoreline can't get you out of your existing contract, there are things that YOU can do to escape the current situation and get on the right track for your Records Management and Document Storage needs. Here are some tips:

1)         Stop sending them Files - This one may seem pretty obvious, but many people don't realize that they don't have to keep sending their current vendor new boxes on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Simply select a new vendor, and start to send all of your recent files to them. Nearly all information lives on a bell curve - meaning that it's accessed shortly after it's created and shortly before it's destroyed, and rarely in between. This means that most requests for records will be handled by your chosen provider, resulting in a better experience right away. Also, this means that once the old documents reach their destruction date, you're left with no need to contact your current provider.

2)        Check the Contract, or forward it to us to have us take a look - When you sign a contract with a Record Storage Provider, most will use a Standard Storage Agreement, which has been approved by PRISM (Professional Records & Information Services Management). This is the agreement that Shoreline Uses with all of our clients. Some companies however will put in special clauses that implement automatic roll-overs, restrictions on inventory reductions, and Permanent Removal Charges, or Hostage Fees. The careful examination of your particular agreement is important here, because many older contracts may not have such provisions, and leave you with the flexibility to select the vendor of your choice, which is how Shoreline believes it should be.  

3)        Destroy/Shred Documents that you don't need - Many storage providers would be happy to have their clients store old, outdated files with them forever. The truth is that that's not an effective Records Management Strategy. You shouldn't maintain records for any longer than needed. This includes Legal Documents, Financial Records, Patient Charts, and Loan Documents. Store them as long as you need them, and no longer. You should, evaluate any inventory that is currently being stored and destroy records that are no longer needed. We encourage Clients to be careful, and to check with your company's records manager or Legal Counsel before doing so, but often, you can destroy up to 10% of your old information per year without triggering the punitive inventory reduction clause. (By the way, This "Punitive Inventory Reduction Clause" is another one of those contract provisions that I'd alluded to earlier)

In the end, switching your Document Storage Provider is typically a very easy process, and requires nothing but a few phone calls to start saving money and receiving better value and service. If you find, however, that you do have one of these restrictive contracts, you can follow these steps to help mitigate the aggravation caused by the process and start heading down the path to improved information management. Either way, Shoreline is here to help and be a partner. Check us out at http://www.shorelinerecordsmanagement.com/ for more information.

Tags: File Storage, Records Management