Storing inactive records in an off-site facility can save space and costs, but these records, like active ones stored in your office, still need to be managed according to a retention schedule and destroyed appropriately. If such actions are not taken, the costs of keeping unnecessary records can negate the savings made possible by placing materials off-site in the first place.
Conduct an audit
If you are not exactly sure what you are paying to store your records in an off-site warehouse, a good place to start is to conduct a storage audit. History Associates was contracted to assist one large corporation in gaining a better understanding of the types of records kept in storage. Company managers were concerned about consistently applying their corporate records schedule to ensure legal and regulatory compliance. They also wanted to see if they could reduce the financial burden of their off-site storage inventory.
Our records managers began with a thorough review of the records in storage and compared their findings to the warehouse inventory. They opened and visually inspected every box, inventoried its contents in a tracking database, appraised the contents per the corporate records schedule, assigned the appropriate disposition, and re-palletized the boxes by disposition category. They created reports for each lot — including description, date range, and record type data — so that the corporation could assess the records.
At the conclusion of the audit, the team made some significant findings:
- Due to inconsistent and outdated record-keeping, the company was paying to store thousands of boxes that no longer existed in storage.
- Approximately two-thirds of the stored boxes were past retention and should have been destroyed years ago.
- After the audit, the company reduced their storage fees from an estimated $57,850 per year to $14,667 – nearly 75 percent savings!
The project also provided updated destruction dates for the boxes stored temporarily per retention schedules. Managing the sorted materials to these dates will allow for the ongoing annual removal of hundreds of boxes, resulting in additional savings.
In our experience, there are many companies that have the potential to save money by reviewing their off-site records. We recommend that you:
- Periodically verify the storage inventory against the material actually in the warehouse
- Routinely implement a records retention schedule
- Annually confirm that boxes past-retention are destroyed
If you suspect that you are paying for records storage you don’t need, a storage audit can not only help determine potential savings, but it can also provide peace of mind in knowing that you are efficiently managing company resources. Regularly updating your storage inventory will also ensure that you can quickly locate and retrieve valuable information when needed.
For more about the storage audit process and our case study, you can download our free report, “Found Money: A Business Case for an Off-Site Records Storage Audit.”