As many of us know, a green records management program offers plenty of benefits. The most immediate are the costs saved through the reduction of more efficient use of materials, space, energy and resources. It also lowers your risk of non-compliance with the growing number of environmental protection measures. Shareholders and potential investors also tend to approve of green records management (RM) programs when evaluating the long term viability of an organization. So what’s not to like about green RM?
Complexity, ROI and Balance
While going green makes a lot of business sense, many records managers are finding that it’s not as straightforward as it first seems.
Why? Going green with your records management programs is something of a balancing act. Change one thing and you introduce a new set of factors to consider in another area. This complexity makes it hard to determine the ROI – or “green return” on investment – which can complicate and delay the decision-making process.
Getting the equation right
Let’s take the example of active paper records. To cut down on your organization’s energy footprint and environmental impact, it would seem that the greenest option would be to convert as many of those records as possible into electronic formats. Not only would this reduce ongoing paper costs, it would reduce the storage and consequent energy footprint – since electronic documents can be stored much more compactly on shared network drives or in an electronic document management system.
However, to understand the net impact of such a move, there is a lot more to consider. For example, what about the energy outlay of the initial scanning process? Or the costs of purchasing the scanning equipment and software? After the conversion, the electronic storage itself introduces new energy costs to keep the servers running 24/7, again changing the overall energy equations.
As you can see from this example, arriving at the “greenest” solution for your organization requires a lot of thought and investigation of the various options and consequences. And it’s not just about the initial decision – this information will be critical for making an accurate assessment of the ongoing return from the program.
If your organization is wrestling with Green RM, the good news is that there are several best practices you can follow to simplify the decision making process and ensure that your program delivers the ROI you expect. Our free webinar, Principles for Environmentally Friendly Records Management, walks you through these key steps, helping you arrive at the best choices for your organization.
- Watch the Principles for Environmentally Friendly Records Management webinar in full, and learn the essential steps for success when going green.
- For more guidance, read our blog post, 3 Tips for a Greener Records Management Program.
- If you need assistance planning your green records management program, contact TAB to speak with one of our experts.