For those who have never outsourced their document management before, the thought of letting crucial business files out of their possession for off-site storage is sometimes enough to make them break out in a cold sweat, especially those individuals who are natural-born hoarders. For some, it is viewed as a non-essential ‘luxury’ reserved for Government departments and large multi-national businesses.
The reality is that outsourcing document management can be quite the opposite with many benefits both in terms to work efficiency and security, as well as being cost-effective. Yes, outsourced document management can actually save organisations money. But to begin with, it is important to partner with the right document management service provider; one that has quality credentials and a proven track record for reliability and security. It should not be a price-driven decision and it is worth being cautious of hard-sell mentality. High calibre OM businesses may sometimes appear more expensive, but very often this is for good reason.
Reading the small-print of contracts, especially ‘cancellation/get-out’ clauses, is recommended and worthwhile as there can be some hefty fees imposed in these situations, especially if moving to another document storage business.
Document management businesses should have robust security measures in place and be fully compliant with data protection laws. Security spans both the storage facility and the overall site, which should be fully-protected by smoke and intruder alarms. Reputable companies will always have their own uniformed, CRB checked staff [never using agency or casual labour) in liveried vehicles that are fully tracked. Files should also be bar-coded for accurate tracking at every stage of their Life.
Services offered by document management businesses today span both paper and digital archiving. Traditional paper archive files can occupy significant office space, sometimes cluttering the work environment which is not conducive to efficient working practice. When it comes to finding that much-needed file, all of a sudden even the most Logical filing systems can be more akin to climbing Mount Everest in flip-flops! And, if we are up against a deadline, that situation is compounded further.
Storing files off-site in modern, purpose-built warehouse facilities has many benefits. Many OM companies will supply their own specialist archive boxes with cataloguing and indexing services if required. Individual files or archive boxes (as required) are bar-coded and fully tracked. This means their exact location can be pinpointed quickly and accurately- especially important if a specific file has to be retrieved at short notice. Some companies offer same-day document retrieval which means it can be delivered back to a client’s desk at very short notice.
There are also Scan-on-Demand services which allow the file/s to be returned electronically for even more rapid turnaround. Some companies offer online document management services providing secure remote access to files for almost instantaneous search and retrieval.
Storing off-site can also spread the risk of housing all company documents and records in one location. Many Legal and financial businesses find this beneficial for the added peace of mind it provides.
Some OM businesses also provide a document destruction or shredding service, some suitable for destroying confidential paperwork or sensitive information. There are two types of service: one that takes paperwork away and shreds off site and the other that brings a mobile shredding vehicle to their clients’ premises. Again, checking out the service provider’s credentials is paramount to ensure all security and data compliance measures are taken. Suppliers with accreditations such as ISO 9001:2008 and BS EN 15713:2009 for Secure Destruction of Confidential Data and Recycling Services are recommended.
Dedicated shredding sacks or consoles are usually provided using a bar code system. Documents should only be destroyed upon written client authorisation and certificates of destruction should be issued at the end of the process with a fully audited document trail. What’s more, once shredded the paper is normally baled and very often recycled for use in new paper based products so there are environmental benefits too.
If the average office professional added up their time spent looking for files on a daily basis and then calculated this time annually, the results in more cases than not would be quite astounding, not to mention costly and counter-productive. That is why outsourcing expert document management really can make sound, commercial sense.