Archives are special. An archive record is one that has ongoing and/or historical value to a company or individual. All companies have reams and reams of records they must store for short periods (up to 10 years), but there are few records they need to archive.
Defining which records your organization needs to archive is difficult. For businesses, archives may have different purposes including the following:
1) Support the brand. (Original Coca-Cola artwork stored in Atlanta.)
2) Evidentiary. (Exxon Valdez maintenance logs.)
3) Historical. (Original sketches of the Model T at Ford.)
4) Vital and necessary to ongoing operations. Because of the significance of these records, archived documents must be cataloged, stabilized and prepared for very long term storage and maintenance.
When deciding which format to use for document archiving, consider the following factors:
- Cost to capture/stabilize the record
- How long you need to keep the record
- Lifespan of the storage media
- Cost to view
- Accessibility by the user
- Search requirements
- Quality standards
- Storage space
- Easy to save, store and share.
- Little physical labor required.
- Documents are searchable.
- Technological obsolescence: Today’s media may be obsolete in 10 years. (Like floppy disks.)
- Scanning old documents can be labor-intensive.
- Good archival formats don’t require anything but the human eye to access those records. With digital, you need a digital viewer. Reading images is format-dependent. You need to be able to open the saved file formats 10 years from now.
- Few archival records will be natively digital, so digital facsimiles are just that, facsimiles.
- Easiest to view. Paper is a good archival format when kept dry and printed on good quality paper.
- Most archive records will be in the original, unaltered form on paper. Original source documents are VITAL for archival purposes.
- Most expensive to store, search and share.
- Can be fragile
- Can be difficult to stabilize if on acidic paper
- subject to insect, mold and other biological degradation.
MICROFILM or MICROFICHE ARCHIVE
The difference? Microfilm is on a roll; microfiche is on a index card sized sheet. Both contain miniaturized images on a piece of film.
- Film is the most durable choice for true, long-term archiving, as it will probably be around 100 years from now.
- It’s clean, dust free and doesn’t mold or mildew.
- Pest and water resistant.
- Film can be difficult to view. You’ll need a light source and a magnifying glass, or, a microfilm reader which may set you back a couple thousand dollars.
- Microfilm is not easily searchable.
- Again, not original
So, which archive method should you choose?
Some organizations end up using a combination of methods. You may want to store paper originals offsite, create microfilm that can be stored safely for centuries, and make digital copies for easy access in the short-term. If you need help figuring out the costs for each of these methods, give us a call!
Did you know the better records you keep, the more your business is worth? People will pay a higher price for a business with accurate and transparent records keeping. Selling your business involves organizing all your old contracts, leases, bank statements and other records and delivering them to the buyer. Today, business owners can deliver these documents quickly and easily with Electronic Records Management (ERM).
I have a customer in the process of selling a business with about 150 employees. Thankfully, all of their accounting records, HR records and leasing records are digitized. They called me to say they are entering due diligence. The prospective buyers were asking to look at files. I was able to grant the buyers access to the records within moments. I created a username and password with read-only permissions for the users representing the buyers. I then created a folder for the appropriate records and let the buyers have a view-only access. They were able to see everything in a controlled environment. They could see anything pertaining to the sale and were not in the office disturbing existing employees. We were able to maintain confidentiality for the seller (for example, personnel records) and at the same time fulfilled the buyer’s needs faster and at a lower cost than traditional methods of copying and shipping records. Electronic Records Management makes buying/selling a much less expensive process and the potential buyer sees it as a huge selling point.
You might be thinking to yourself, "I might be interested in selling my business ONE day, but how can ERM help me TODAY?" What is the immediate benefit for you to convert to Electronic Records Management?
- Accountability. Much of what we do is driven by documents. Data Storage can install a workflow in your document approval or handling process. Management can then observe weaknesses and make adjustments to the process.
- Labor Savings. ERM reduces the amount of touches and clerical chores that are done each day. A great deal of what we think of as secretarial work disappears entirely with Electronic Records Management. Tasks like filing, stapling, collating and all the trips to the copy machine are no longer necessary. This frees employees up to focus on other aspects of their jobs.
- Auditability. You can see who saw what, when, and what changes were made.
- Document Sharing. If you’re not selling your business, this is the Number One reason that your company should convert to Electronic Records Management.
Recently, I came across a list of the top 10 most common New Year's resolutions:
- Eat healthy and exercise more
- Drink less
- Learn something new
- Quit smoking
- Better work/life balance
- Save money
- Get organized
- Read more
- Finish "to-do" lists
The two that jumped out at me, "save money" and "get organized" are exactly what Data Storage does everyday. We help businesses get more organized by streamlining workflows and implementing electronic records management systems. Clearing our workspace of clutter can have tremendous value in terms of organization and efficiency, but one should not underestimate the monetary value.
When a potential client comes to us for help with their records management, the very first thing we do is perform a free client needs assessment. These assessments are critical in determining if their document management workflow is too costly. It helps us determing where efficiencies can be made that would save money. Our evaluation requires a careful analysis of existing workflows and processes. We come into the office, interview key employees, observe work, examing forms, etc in order to find opportunities to reduce the document handling costs. We then submit recommendations to improve procedures and help establish systems for organizing, cataloging, indexing and retrieving records.
We can help you capture pre-payment discounts
Document scanning reduces the amount of touches to any given document, which in turn, has cost-savings attached to it. However, an efficient records management system has the potential to generate additional savings in the form of pre-payment discounts. These discounts are typically given to incentivize people to pay their bills as quickly as possible. For example, an invoice might say if you can pay your bill within ten days of issuing, you get 2 percent off the bill (2% net 10). We have helped numerous businesses who didn't have the capability to capture all their prepayment discounts. They were unable to receive the invoice, have it approved, entered into the system, and cut a check in the necessary time-frame. Once we are able to see first-hand the process that an organization has in place, we establish a workflow to allow the business to start capturing this lost revenue.
It's not uncommon for a business to have an invoice drop through the cracks from time to time and then have to pay the fee incurred. And, almost everybody has prepayment discounts. We are going to find and capture those. They aren't always huge numbers, but we are looking for waste no matter what it looks like.
With Mozy you can access your files from any PC, but now with the new Mozy app for your iPhone or Droid you can:
- Get access, on the fly, to the most recent versions of important documents
- Protect even your most sensitive files with military-grade encryption
- See the information about the files - when they were last modified, the size, how they are encrypted
- See your back up history
- Intuitive and easy to use
- Did I mention, the app is FREE?
Watch as Scott, the president of Data Storage, Inc. demonstrates how you can access your files easily and for free.
It's always hard to find contractors we can trust to do the job correctly the first time.
I know a plumber that does that. Fixes the problem quickly and correctly the first time. His plumbers show up when they are supposed to and are tidy and courteous.
If you need a water heater replaced, a drain repaired, a toilet replaced in the Claremore or Rogers county area, call Ray at Akin Plumbing. 918-343-2335.
I just had to share a good experience I had with you. Add his number to your iPhone in case you need it. I don't know anything better to say than that.
I walked by one of the fire sprinkler control valve and stand pipes in our facility and thought, "wow, that is an impressive piece of gear."
Our facility is monitored for heat and smoke. We montior for smoke chemically and also for particulate in the air. Anything out of the normal trips an alarm.
Additionally, anytime water moves in our fire sprinkler system, it will cause an alarm. We have our sprinklers inspected several times per year.
Anything less in a commercial records storage center would make us nervous!
We have been shredding a LOT of documents this year. At Data Storage, we are calling this the year of the shred. We are asking everyone to look at shredding records this year.
As records managers we are taught the business value of records is inversely proportional to their age. Information is like fish, the fresher the better. Unfortunately, regulations and compliance issues often force us to keep records beyond their useful lives.
We just had a Department of Labor audit of our payroll records. Our time and attendance records are easily accesible and we were able to fulfill the audit requirements very easily. In our case the Department of Labor need to see two years worth of time cards. This is a prime example of being required to keep records beyond their usefull life.
As a small business owner, I do not have a business purpose for accessing time records for more than one year. Knowing the records business as I do, I was able to produce the records for the Department of Labor in about 10 minutes.
The audit went well and I think Data Storage is a better company for having gone through it. I'm just glad we didn't destroy those records when we were done with them instead of when the Department of Labor was done.
Watch those records retention schedules and life cycles.
- Short lived records include:
- Phone records
- Meeting invitations
- Administrative Emails
- Longer Lived records
- Purchase orders
- Insurance claims
- Accounting records
- Payroll records
- HR records
- Long-Lived Records
- Product liability related records
- Project files
- Oil and Gas records
- Medical Records
Shred as fast as you can, but no faster than you should. It easier said than done, but we can help. Drop us a line if you have questions about how long you should be keeping your records. We find that most of our new records storage customers are able to destroy about 30% of their records once implementing our plans.
Today there are two records management related pics on www.thechive.com today. The first picture is a horrible prank someone played on a co-worker. It's a mess. I'm worried that the piece of certified mail on the desk will get mixed up in the shreds (chads) when this is cleaned up.
Employees hate digging through stacks of boxes in poorly lit closets, barns and attics. This picture is just how it was submitted to the "I hate my job" gallery on thechive.com.
Use Data Storage, Inc. Make your employees happy.
I'm sorry, I just have to brag today.
No, I'll let my customer brag.
We bust our hump to make our records storage and management customers happy. I'm so proud of the people at Data Storage for serving another customer so well. Also, thanks for the video Virginia!
At Data Storage we pride ourselves in taking excellent care of the information entrusted to us by our customers.
Our employees are all long-time employees with a sense of pride in their work (and tons of privacy training). We maintain careful records and audit trails on all deposits in our trust. Our facilities are monitored by state of the art security systems. The facilities are manned around the clock. We routinely change locks and maintain on keys. We require every visitor to the facility to sign in. And on and on and on and on.
In the interest of improving our security and privacy at Data Storage here in Tulsa, I attended a training seminar with my trade association last week that covered the Privacy + certification. My association is PRISM (Professional Records & Information Services Management Association). I took about 20 pages of notes in two days and have digested 100's of pages of handouts and I want to share the biggest/easiest take away tip I saw. Here it is.....
ENCRYPT YOUR HARD DRIVES AND BACKUP MEDIA.
There have been 2,761 data breaches recorded since 2008. Average notification costs are $7.2 million per incident. (Todd Stephenson, CISA Kirkpatrick Price, LLC.)
Most of these breaches involved stolen laptops. Encrypting the hard drives could eliminate most of the breaches and notification costs. It's cheap and easy to do.