Choosing a records management partner requires careful consideration of your organization’s needs and a prospective partner’s services.
Assess Your Needs Before Outsourcing
You all know the consequences of acting in haste. With that in mind, it’s wise to consider taking your time when seeking a records management partner.
Many organizations manage records and information solely with internal resources. But as legal and regulatory requirements become increasingly complex, more and more firms are looking to external experts for RIM support — from simple file storage to full-blown cradle-to-grave administration.
If you’re considering an external partner, there are some important questions to ask yourself:
- What level of support do I need? If you start with a comprehensive understanding of the current state of your records management and the requirements that must be met — now and in the foreseeable future — you will have a clear vision of the support you need, and be better positioned to find a partner who will work with you hand-in-glove. Consider these factors:
- Do you want full-service administration or storage only?
- Are your records centralized or decentralized? Is there a chance that might change?
- Are you outsourcing the function, keeping it in-house or developing a mix of those options?
- How accessible (in terms of ease and/or speed of retrieval) do you need your records to be?
- How engaged do you want your company personnel to be in the RIM process?
- How secure will my records be? That seems like an easy one to answer, but in fact it’s one of the more complicated (and crucial) elements of records management. It goes far beyond burglar alarms. The best RIM partner will have a documented and tested process for securing vital records at every point of a its life cycle — pickup, transport, storage and access. On-site security at the storage facility should include limited, supervised admittance; 24-hour monitoring and response; and excellent fire suppression capability. Finally, look for a provider that operates with comprehensive staff background checks, a verified procedure for authorizing access to data, a strong disaster plan, fully secure and defensible disposal, and regular audits of its processes.
- Who has the services and expertise to best meet my unique RIM needs? Different partners bring different strengths, so you want to seek the one that best matches your requirements. Factors to consider here include collaboration and interaction (compatibility); costs (transportation, storage, administration, destruction, associated fees including hidden fees, etc.); round-the-clock records accessibility; customer service (pickup and delivery, plus responsiveness); knowledge of your industry’s relevant legal and regulatory requirements; the RIM firm’s history and track record with other clients; and chain of custody procedures.
- Is my potential partner trustworthy? No relationship survives without trust. In records management, honesty and integrity are absolute essentials. Do your homework, check references and make sure your maybe-partner is unimpeachable. Ask to see the vendor’s procedures, or take a tour of their operation. If a vendor looks good on paper, but doesn’t make the personal, authentic connection that gives you reassurance that your records are in safe hands, keep looking.
You don’t want to repent in leisure, pondering a hastily made RIM partner choice. You will trust your organization’s vital records — and perhaps its very existence — to that provider. That fact alone is worth the time and effort of a thorough vetting process.
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Abraxas offers the highest quality RIM services with a solid commitment to honesty, integrity, and exquisite customer service. We provide clients with tailored records and information management solutions, delivering the business intelligence that matters most — and we do it more efficiently and reliably than anyone else, particularly in highly regulated industries. To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us: 866.535.0016 (toll-free) or 269.226.0016.