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Managed Providers: Work from Residence Data Administration Is Attainable

Businesses have pondered work from home and solutions from anywhere for years, but recent events have forced the decision to respond overnight. The new work from everywhere presents companies with the challenge of granting access to company information that is still in the office or stored with a supplier. Enter the option Records Management as a managed service.

By circumstance or by choice, outsourcing the records management function, in whole or in part, is a proposition that many organizations are pursuing. Since employees cannot access physical records because employees and records are no longer together, a solution is needed to address the accessibility issue.

What are the advantages of fully or partially outsourced data set management?

The storage of physical records by an external provider is not a new concept. What is new is that this provider stores and manages active records, not just inactive ones. Records Management managed services can provide:

  • Storage of active records
  • Dispatch of records as required
  • Conversion of records to electronic format for long-term management
  • Integration of the new electronic version into the company's existing electronic collection
  • Scan-on-Demand services when quick access is required
  • Simplified transition from active to inactive status
  • Storage and disposition management to meet compliance requirements

Managed RM Services provide the ability to manage the entire record life cycle by trained and dedicated record management personnel in facilities specifically designed for record management and protection.

Steps to Customize Your RM Program for the Work-From-Anywhere Model

It is rumored that as a result of the pandemic, up to half of all companies say that they will work from any model on a permanent basis. Something needs to be done to manage the physical records held on site.

As the footprint in office buildings decreases, the movement of paper records changes from optional to required. This means businesses need to ensure that several steps are taken to properly manage their physical records in the future. Here is a short list of the most important activities to consider during this transition period:

  1. Ensure that the company's records retention schedule is up to date and legally reasonable (including supporting legal citations, including those addressing maximum data retention retention periods).
  2. Implement a RED (Redundant, Obsolete, Transitory) removal process to avoid storing documents that are not official records.
  3. Inventory and box records that ensure that at least the file title and date range and, if possible, the record serial identifier and the associated retention period are recorded (ideally calculated and marked as the date for disposition authorization).
  4. Assign barcodes to boxes as needed or assign shopping cart numbers for files that will be moved to active external file spaces.
  5. Make decisions about which collections to send for imaging / scanning based on long-term retention needs, simultaneous access to multiple employees, access from employees in geographically different locations, etc.
  6. Let your managed services provider pick you up.
  7. Track your records from the time they leave your website, to the time they are posted for photo editing, and until they are on the shelf (make sure your provider does!) .
  8. Allow the Organization General Staff to access the offsite inventory.
  9. Work with your provider to put the scanned images in a shared repository (this can be a cloud storage area, a controlled FTP site, or, as a last resort, the images can be transferred to portable media).

If your organization really does require less space and does not require in-office meetings with customers, you may not have an office reception. Your supplier partner may even offer a virtual mailroom service as part of the Records Management program. This would include the delivery team receiving incoming mail, sorting it into record and non-record material, imaging the recording material and placing it in a recording system, packing the originals for storage, and distributing the non-recording material at regular intervals.


On Premises Managed RM Services

What if you don't have to remove all physical records from your site and maintain them on-site? Here, too, RM managed services might still be the right answer. A trained and dedicated member of the vendor team could manage physical inventory and deploy a dedicated scanning roll that collects paper documents on site and scans them as they arrive.

This model allows for a minimal monitoring requirement while knowledgeable and trained resources manage the organization's records. The training costs are practically eliminated because the provider has already carried out the required RM or technical training and only a small amount of process training remains in the start-up phase. Monitoring will likely be a common model, with most guidance being provided by the supplier manager and occasional guidance being provided by the contact for critical organization records.

In some models, the vendor team may cover certain document management practices where the volume is very high. In this case, the team will likely not only be responsible for organizing the records, but also ensuring that the records are complete and comply with legal requirements.

Managed RM services under the management of a CRM

Managed Services could go further if the vendor team is led by a Certified Records Manager. In this case, the provider would be able to review processes and make recommendations to management on best practice solutions for handling records throughout the operational practice. You could also have discussions with the IT team about electronic record best practices. Developing RFPs for records management software is another area that a partner of a Certified Records Manager vendor could help with.

With the right provider, your managed service team may also be able to support the storage of your electronic records through software offerings or even secure cloud storage. The possibilities here are endless and you should speak to your provider about the type of support they offer in this area.

Finally, the managed services vendor team has in-depth knowledge of converting off-site paper records to long-term, low-cost storage. You will be able to inventory, pack, and ship boxes off-site while being the point of contact to retrieve boxes from the off-site warehouse.

Getting WFH and shrinking office space up and running

In short, companies seem to be on a path where office space is shrinking. This means less capacity building for physical records and possibly for the teams that manage them.

With the right supplier partner, managed records management services could be the comprehensive solution that addresses the need to continue to manage physical records with less office requirements. Your supplier partner should provide a good selection of services and products, trained and experienced staff as well as certified team leaders and help to reduce the overhead compared to the corresponding internal team.

Download our white paper, Building a Modern Record and Information Management Program and get your definitive guide to building an information management program.

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