Effective document storage is difficult to achieve internally within the workplace. Archive inflation over time is often a good sign for your business, but raises complications of cost, space and time spent managing records.
Many organisations put off the decision to outsource their document storage; this hesitation often originates from a lack of knowledge about the document storage industry and the services it offers. Any organisation desiring innovation and modernity should consider the move to offsite archiving. The case study in this article will demonstrate how outsourcing the storage of your records is just another step toward a more modern organisation.
Document Storage Case-Study
A famous school in Buckinghamshire is currently pursuing a programme to streamline its archives. They are currently stored in a number of underground locations in an 18th century mansion. There are archives for pupils who attended the school, current pupils, staff (past and present), governor meetings (dating back to the school’s foundation), financial accounts and a historic archive with artefacts and papers going back to the original owners. The files belonging to famous ex-pupils are most likely to be of interest if put into the wrong hands.
As the school has grown exponentially over the past ten years, the number of records has also inflated. Whilst the mansion has been cared for over the years the archive located beneath it has not. The school is increasingly running out of adequate document storage space.
The school manages its documents by securely locking files in the cellars and the most sensitive material is kept in a safe. Although this may seem a satisfactory set up, it is one that cannot be preserved, as file numbers mount whilst space decreases. These documents have been organised in alphabetical order, but for an institution that has been running for nearly a hundred years this is not sufficient. An organisation of this calibre should definitely consider using a record management company to:
- Audit and index files
- Provide adequate security
- Securely destroy files
- Scan documents
- Retrieve and pick up files
- Determine retention cycles
- Provide a friendly document consultation
Keeping valuable files below ground in this instance is a risky venture. Documents stored underground are likely to be exposed to damp and mould, whilst underground facilities are more disposed to flooding. It is advisable for documents containing confidential information to be monitored by 24-hour manned security. Risks such as these have pushed the school to make the decision to outsource their file storage. Schools are like any business and they need to manage their resources in a professional way. Thus, the school is now beginning the process of moving its archive offsite to keep up with its expanding modernising programme. The Headmaster of the school stated:
“We are decreasing our dependency on paper and utilising a sophisticated management information system to analyse data, spot trends and improve academic attainment. An effective MIS means that the school has detailed and up-to-date information on each pupil. Admissions, Finance, and Academic Management can access centrally held data which used to be held in lots of different filing cabinets. We have just installed a new system, the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) which is enabling us to track and monitor pupils, lesson attendance, preps set and done. The data held on the MIS can be shared with staff and parents. By reducing hard copy reports we are making significant savings on paper and postage whilst avoiding the delays of sending reports and school accounts overseas. Our next step is to have all our documents audited and a great number of them stored at an offsite facility to ensure maximum efficiency in all spheres of management.”
When asked why outsourcing documents was a hesitant step in the schools modernising programme the Headmaster stated:
“In a busy school environment the efficient retrieval of documents is what matters most which is why we have been hesitant about outsourcing our documents. We need our documents to be easily accessible. However, when we found out that a record management facility could get us the necessary documents within a four hour period the choice was made even easier. ”
Many organisations from schools to law firms are striving to improve their service by modernising systems to keep up with the digital age. Secure Data Management now offers storage for digital files and has introduced a Secure-Dox service, which allows you to store all your digital files within a cloud based archiving portal. Efficiency and organisation is what modernising is all about, and using a records management company will take you that one step closer.