Reducing a business’ document storage spend is one of the surest ways to increase an available budget for better use in more profitable avenues, but more often than not organisations get fooled into paying extortionate rates that inexplicably inflate as the years pass by. Don’t let your company get caught in this trap. Whether currently storing onsite or offsite, here are 5 ways to streamline and reduce your records management costs:
1. Avoid “surcharge suppliers”
Some suppliers consider absolutely any activity billable; they are most often recognisable when their draft agreement drains the office printer of ink. Read each clause closely and it will quickly become apparent how even the smallest of surcharges can escalate over time. Fuel surcharges and transport costs are often overlooked. Pay careful attention here; some document storage companies charge separately for retrieval and collection and others will invoice double if road traffic is bad. Companies based in London can expect this extra fee as standard. At Secure Data MGT we only charge one fixed fee by collecting at the same time that we deliver. We have saved some of our clients upwards of £10,000 per annum on these associated transport costs alone. So, when looking for an archive storage provider, keep the ongoing retrieval cost and other seemingly minor surcharges in mind.
2. What service levels are included?
Additional service levels beyond the pale of duty should be included as standard when it comes to offsite archiving. Keeping an eye out for these additional features is a key way to help reduce your records management costs. A storage provider should go above and beyond expectations by providing solutions such as scanning, destruction and emergency retrieval options, methods for digital storage and quick, efficient customer service. Don’t be fooled by a glossy proposal before considering these other elements. A good provider will show a degree of flexibility with their services to suit individual needs. Accordingly, this leaves room for negotiation with the actual records management costs. Ring around London archiving companies to get a better understanding of the industry and the differences in their service offerings.
3. Don’t neglect the small print!
Always carefully review any agreement and look out for any of the following terms:
- Perm-out charges (a fee expected to remove boxes when leaving a provider)
- Pick charge (the cost of collecting one box or file from the offsite storage centre)
- CF (cubic feet – most companies charge by this metric, not box size)
- Pallets (some companies will charge for these as well as the boxes)
- Wrapping (another unnecessary surcharge for cellophane)
They key thing here is not just the price; always try to ascertain how many times you are expected to pay. Some storage companies charge each way for retrieval – the same ones tend to charge each way for picking and depositing the files too. If left unchecked, all too quickly the expected charges more than double on a permanent basis. Providers who actually want to save their clients money will only charge once, as the standard process will cost them the same notwithstanding. Similarly, a good archive company won’t expect reimbursement for the cost of the pallets and the general hardware that they already own in abundance.
4. Are records management best practices being used?
Some best practices have already been discussed; these include reducing costs by collecting and delivering files to an offsite storage location under one transaction. However, there are some other industry best practices to keep in mind, particularly if moving provider. Perhaps the most obvious of these is the size of the boxes that a company’s documents are kept in. If storing A4 sized files then A4 sized boxes should be used! This may seem like common sense, but we frequently find that companies have essentially being paying for air by storing in larger boxes and over accommodating their files. This isn’t their fault – a professional records management firm should make their clients aware of this from day one. An archive provider should advise how to optimally store going forward. Most existing suppliers are happy to leave badly managed files in place. For them it is better to avoid streamlining document storage processes – it costs them time and money. A thorough audit and retention policy (where documents are automatically flagged for destruction in line with their respective retention guidelines) is absolutely essential to keep inflating archive costs down.
5. Does anything come free?
As mentioned above, a good retention policy can save any business drastic sums, sometimes tens of thousands a year depending on the type of organisation and the amount of managed documents in storage. However, if there is no monitoring in place at the offsite records centre then achieving this can be next to impossible. At Secure Data MGT we aim to pass on the savings that we achieve back to our clients. We do this by actively encouraging an industry leading free destruction policy for our established clients. We understand the legality issues and critical importance of meeting industry relevant minimum retention standards and will create a custom solution to help fulfill these processes seamlessly. A good document storage provider should offer similar incentives, which, alongside their service levels, proves a commitment to passing on savings back to the customer whilst providing exceptional service.