Uncover the hidden costs — and leverage new efficiencies

There are five key cost areas associated with managing your records that you should focus on. These areas are so much a part of the normal course of doing business that many people don’t even think of them as an opportunity for savings and improved efficiency. Staff and facilities costs Every person in your company depends on information, day in and day out. When employees are actively using information to create new business opportunities, the cost of their time is offset by the value these activities bring to the organization. However, like “empty calories,” the time spent searching for, waiting for, or simply handling information is inefficient and does little to energize your business. Similarly, documents take up space, and space costs money. You want to minimize the amount of valuable real estate dedicated to storing information, so that space can be put to more valuable uses — such as providing a place for people to meet and collaborate or, even better, for directly serving customers and generating revenue.

Costs of physical documents

The cost of managing and storing active paper-based records are easy to see, but the costs that follow information throughout its entire lifecycle are not so visible. Consider, for example, how much you might be spending to house inactive files that have not been opened for years. Chances are, it’s more than you suspect. Also, think about the number of times documents are copied in order to be shared — and what it costs to properly dispose of these duplicate records. Imagine receiving a request to produce all relevant paper and electronic documents needed for a significant legal action within just ten business days. Avoiding the penalties for missing the deadline will probably require paying employees overtime to sift through huge collections in long-term storage and electronic archives — all of those records that have been retained “just in case.” Manual indexing could reduce the time it takes to find the required records, but it will also introduce additional expenses. Compliance regulations apply equally to paper and electronic records. Consider, for example, the fines and penalties associated with the inability to show consistent processes for protecting vital records, proving chain-of custody, and safeguarding private information.

Auditing AND litigation costs

An external audit of your records can be quite costly unless you are well prepared. There’s the disruption to your everyday operations, as well as the potential penalties for non-compliance when documents are not made available on time. Ask yourself whether your records management policies can support internal as well as external requirements. At a minimum, these policies need to include: — Specific steps involving the retention and disposition of documents

— Both hardcopy and electronic records that from all business units

— Well-defined guidelines for records access and security

— A plan to conduct internal evaluations and audits at pre-defined times in order to ensure that your policies are operational

— Training procedures that ensure that your records management systems and personnel are up to industry standards and can meet audit scrutiny

— Centralized, system-based reporting that enables diagnostic assessment of user’s recordkeeping behaviour and cost analysis Is your organization prepared to satisfy the requirements of an oversight agency? A negative response could cost you.

Disaster recovery costshidden-costs

Of course, ensuring disaster recovery and business continuity is not only required by law, it is also critical to the very survival of your company. Protecting vital records from fires, floods, or other natural disasters can generate significant costs

— and also prevent significant costs if the worst happens. Vital records, regardless of whether they are in paper or electronic form, are those considered to be essential to the continuation of the business. These may include:

— Contracts or business agreements that prove ownership of property or equipment

— Operational records, including accounting, shipping delivery, software licenses, etc.

— Intellectual property, including drawings, source code, formulas, regulatory testing results, etc.

— Current client and patient files and account information

— HR records, such as employment contracts, agreements, and settlements