In our last two blog posts, we looked at six key strategies for developing an environmentally friendly records management program.
As we saw, there are some very important business benefits to environmental records management, including:
- Increased compliance with emerging environmental legislation
- Cost savings as a result of more efficient use of resources
- Increased consumer and shareholder confidence
Before starting a journey toward environmentally friendly records management, it helps to determine where your organization sits today. Where are the trouble spots? What are you doing right? These answers will provide focus for the program.
A framework for evaluating Green RM
Working with many organizations on green RM initiatives over the years, we have found the following three-part framework to be helpful for assessing your current state:
- Document Lifecycle Practices
This is all about managing the physical resources taken up by documents and records throughout their lifecycle. In conjunction with an effective recycling program, good lifecycle practices ensure that the use and storage of physical raw materials is kept to a minimum.To assess the impact of your organization’s records lifecycle practices, ask questions such as:
- How often does your organization conduct clean-up days to identify and purge non-record material that is no longer required?
- Has your organization implemented records retention schedules by regularly identifying and disposing of records whose retention periods have lapsed?
- What steps has your organization taken to encourage personnel to create and retain records in electronic formats and actively discourage them from creating paper copies?
- Filing Equipment and Supplies
Looking beyond the documents themselves, it’s important to consider how they are stored. This involves looking at the composition and design of the file cabinets, shelving units, file folders and other enclosures that support file management activities on a day-to-day basis.Ask questions such as:
- Do your organization’s cabinets, shelving and other filing equipment maximize the records storage potential of available floor space?
- How often do you have to replace your organization’s filing supplies and storage equipment due to wear and tear?
- Can your organization’s folders and other paper materials be recycled by service providers once they are no longer needed?
- Third-party Services
Your organization’s net environmental impact can be influenced to a large extent by the practices of your service providers. In the field of RIM, this includes services such as offsite and near-site storage of physical records, document shredding, and computing equipment leasing.To ensure these providers aren’t hampering your own environmental efforts, ask questions such as:
- Can secure paper disposal providers confirm that paper is subject to recycling once shredded?
- Do computing equipment lessors and disposal service providers use environmentally friendly methods for decommissioning used hardware?
- Do offsite or “near-site” storage providers maximize the number of files transferred for each mile traveled?
By looking at the documents themselves, as well as the practices that surround those documents both inside and outside the organization – you ensure that your green RIM program covers all the bases!