Is Storage of records a Growing Problem for Your Business?
Efficient storage of records can be an unending challenge for businesses experiencing growing piles of paperwork, ever-expanding storage rooms and bulging file cabinets loaded with invoices, receipts, research and records. With the added burden of different regulatory agencies enforcing laws assigning specific retention periods and storage conditions to different types of records, maintaining files can become complex and unwieldy. And – with the passage of time – more and more resources are needed to manage, file, search and sort your expanding collection of records and paperwork.
One Problem – Two Very Different Solutions
This growing complexity of Records Management is a common problem in today’s document-saturated world. When it comes to the storage of records -different types of businesses have different needs in addition to regulatory requirements. Some companies want to maintain traditional records because of the need to maintain handwritten documents. Others choose digitizing records so different departments can routinely access data. Still others have no need to access the documents in the future.
There are two choices for handling the records storage issue: Traditional storage of records or Digital Records Storage.
Traditional Document Storage – Safe & Infrequently Accessed
Typically, companies have stored records onsite until the growing number of file cabinets begins to dominate the office. As the sheer volume of records increases, companies often shift their in-house storage of paper records to off-site or outsourced storage, where files are maintained in climate-controlled, secure-access facilities.
Business management needs to consider a number of factors when outsourcing or moving records off-site, including:
the volume of records
the frequency they’ll need to be accessed in the future
the regulatory requirements of storage
the costs – to both store and access the records
Records that will never need to be accessed in the future but must be maintained for a certain period of time are excellent candidates for off-site storage. Paper records also allow notes (handwritten and otherwise) to be maintained in original forms, which can be important for legal reasons.
But there are downsides. Companies need large spaces to store voluminous records, which can be expensive. When access to an old file is needed, off-site storage is time – and cost – intensive. Clerical time can add up fast, and records management can become laborious.
Digital Records Storage – More Convenient, Less Expensive
Storing records digitally has become less expensive, less laborious and much more user-friendly, due to innovations in both hardware and software. The accuracy of automated scanning systems has improved tremendously over the last ten years, meaning companies no longer need manually type records into a storage system. With sophisticated error-handling capabilities, today’s document scanning software means that 80-90% of records won’t even need to be reviewed manually by your staff. Even better – once they’ve been digitized, records can be quickly, easily and inexpensively reviewed from anywhere, at any time, by any department or person granted access – eliminating the high clerical costs associated with pulling files.
Although upfront costs and labor can be higher, Electronic Records storage and management offers significant benefits over traditional paper records storage, especially for those who need regular access to files.
Digital storage offers a greater degree of physical security – records can be easily stored in multiple locations worldwide.
Critical information protection from catastrophic loss is provided with disaster recovery back-ups.
The storage footprint is reduced significantly – e.g., from one four-drawer cabinet to one disk or even based in cloud storage.
Digitized data offers another key benefit: the ability to gather intelligence from your records. Digital records can yield critical insights to your financial, marketing, sales, customer service or product/ service development teams. Trends can be more easily spotted and analyzed.
How does your business store records and what is it costing your bottom line each year?