Records Management Blog | Practical Records Management

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 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

Document Storage Boxes - They're more important than you think!

Posted by Michael Thomas on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 @ 05:05 PM

A few weeks ago we made some recommendations regarding choosing the best box for your document storage needs, and the truth is that we can't emphasize enough how important this is. We found that countless companies are still storing their information in Copy Paper boxes, and the results are well, less than outstanding.

Copy paper boxes are made for a very specific purpose. They are designed to ship packaged paper from manufacturer to distribution to consumers. Once the paper has arrived to the consumer, that boxes lived its useful life, and not much more can be expected. Unfortunately companies seem to see an empty box and think that'll make a great place to store their important files. Please avoid this temptation.

Archive Boxes, such as the Paige Miracle Box, are designed to stand the test of time. They manufactured specifically for storing documents. They’re made with double walled construction to ensure that they can be stacked regardless of whether or not their contents are full. In addition they manufactured to a higher standard using reinforced cardboard to ensure that they don't break during transit and have handles which make them easier to move around the office.

Another differentiator between copy paper boxes and archive boxes is capacity. Archive boxes are designed to handle documents in either portrait or landscape storage meaning that you can store both letter and legal documents, depending on the orientation, and they also accommodate the full height of 8 1/2 inches per page, which is not the case with most copy paper boxes.

If the budget is tight and you must use copy paper boxes, at least be sure that you're putting some duct tape or packing tape around the outside to make sure that the box stays together during storage. I can tell you from experience that there's not much more frustrating than having 2,000 pages strewn across the floor because inferior boxes fallen apart. Using the right boxes for document storage is such a simple decision to make that easy to overlook, but making sure to plan in advance can help you to avoid a big mess further down the road.

Tags: File Storage, Records Management

What is a Business Record? | Questions about Records Management

Posted by Michael Thomas on Fri, Apr 02, 2010 @ 11:36 AM

Nearly every time a transaction occurs, or an inventory is docked, or money changes hands, a paper record of that transaction is produced. Orders, receipts, schedules, loans, contracts, policies, inventory statements, memoranda and notifications all fall under the broad reach of the term "record". In essence, a record is the footprint of successful business, and they are left behind naturally as business transactions occur.

If a document can be used in a court of law as official evidence that business or organizational management has taken place, then this document is considered a business record. Written information and data are the main products of organizations and businesses. It is estimated that over 90% of white- collar work is devoted to producing written documents that present information. Naturally, this means that companies output a slew of records every year. For every 100 million dollars that a company gains in sales, it uses more than 8.8 million additional sheets of paper every year. These figures don't even account for electronic documents, which are growing at an exponentially faster pace.

If you're concerned about helping ensure that your Business Records are being actively managed and that you're protected against loss or non-compliance, contact Shoreline Records Management today for your Free Records Management Analysis. We'll help you understand where you're at and provide valuable insights for potential improvements.

Tags: Document Management, Records Management

Records Management - Make a Rainbow in Your File Cabinets

Posted by Michael Thomas on Mon, Mar 22, 2010 @ 02:01 PM
Rainbow Files

DID YOU KNOW??? The magic world of OZ was named after the alphabetical letters O - Z on the bottom drawer of author L. Frank Baum's file cabinet?! 

Well, your files likely aren't in Kansas, but sometimes, a little color can really brighten up a records management strategy. When planning ahead for next year’s file management, consider using colorful file folders. By using colorful folders, or even just different colored folder tabs, it becomes easy to visually identify older, outdated files that can be destroyed or moved to storage. If you choose to use a different color for each year of your seven year retention cycle, it becomes very simple to go through and archive legacy files. 

If you're creative enough to grab the whole rainbow, you could go all Pink Floyd and synchronize your filing work while watching the Wizard of Oz... 

Tags: File Storage, Records Management

Document Scanning gets a Black Eye in the UK

Posted by Michael Thomas on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 @ 10:23 AM

According to an article published today on Kable, a UK based service provider that helps public officials to make informed decisions about technology, an ineffective document scanning strategy has caused a major snafu in processing Student Loans across the UK.

Document Scanning gets black eye in UK

The National Audit Office (NAO) says that the new scanning system at the Student Loans Company (SLC), designed to store and transmit electronic copies of documents to processing teams, did not work.

It had not been properly tested and the firm's contingency plan was "seriously flawed", according to the report published on 19 March 2010

 

While it may be about a situation that has occurred on the other side of the Atlantic, this News highlights the importance of ensuring that Document Imaging and Document Scanning projects are being done correctly. Whether you’re scanning student loans, imaging mortgage files, or converting paper Medical Charts, if you’re going to scan these files yourself you need to make sure that you have implemented and tested your process from start to finish. End-To-End testing of Document Imaging Processes is a vital step that we’ve seen many companies fail to recognize.

 

 

“The question must be asked how the Company, given its failure in 2009, will deal with twice as many applications in 2010, when it becomes responsible for applications from both first and second year students. The Department and the Company must give the highest priority to achieving a radical improvement in the service and, in so doing, to restoring the confidence of applicants and stakeholders. They will have to manage substantial risks.”

 

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 19 March 2010

(From The NAO Report) 

 

This story also further highlights the value of using a Document Scanning Service. Companies that specialize in Document Imaging and offer the service of Scanning Paper to digital formats have a wealth of experience in focusing on process controls to ensure that your information is processed correctly. This can help to reduce the risk of lost or misfiled documents and improve the overall quality of your document imaging endeavors.

Whether you’re imaging yourself or outsourcing your document scanning, cases such as this one serve to further highlight where your focus should be – on the value of the information. It’s not good enough to just capture a good quality image. You must ensure that documents are scanned clearly AND that they’re indexed and processed appropriately so that the value of the content can be put to use.

Tags: Records Management, Document Scanning, Document Imaging