Five questions to ask before outsourcing your active records management

Posted by TAB on

As covered in a previous post, many organizations are discovering that it makes good practical and financial sense to outsource the management of their active records. As with any outsourcing proposition, turning over a non-core process allows for greater operational efficiency—and it also goes hand in hand with increased profitability.

If your organization is considering such a move, a good starting point is to list the key features you’re looking for in an outsourcing provider. Not all companies that offer records management services are created equal so it helps to have a list of requirements that you can use to compare and narrow down your options.

Table stakes in RM outsourcing

Because outsourcing agreements are usually difficult to get out of, they are best entered into slowly and with careful consideration. When putting together an RFP or discussing a deal with a provider, the following questions will help you understand whether the provider is of the minimum standard required to ensure that your arrangement is a success in the long run.

  1. Do you employ trained workers?
    One of the biggest factors in the quality of service you will receive is the degree of training and experience among the provider’s staff. At a minimum they must be well-studied in records management basics, including classification, retention scheduling, file retrieval and RM software. Beyond the basics, your provider should also employ workers with file- and document-level knowledge that is specific to your industry or organization. Every industry has particular filing needs, so the more experience the staff have in your industry the greater quality of service you’ll receive.
  2. How do you ensure information control and integrity?
    “Letting go” of your documents is difficult enough, so it’s essential to have assurances that those documents will be secure and intact. Every provider will claim that they offer secure storage and access, but it helps to check that they have the following minimum requirements: processes and controls that are audited regularly to ensure they are maintained; separate areas for different collections (in order to avoid cross-contamination); and a dedicated delivery team employed by the provider (not sub-contracted).
  3. What are your service level standards?
    For any outsourcing arrangement to be a success, continuous and timely access to your records is absolutely vital. In selecting a provider, it is important to look carefully at their response and turnaround times are for document and file requests.In addition, your provider should be able to:

    • respond to requests 24/7
    • receive requests in the medium of your choice (e.g. email, phone)
    • image documents and send to devices as requested
    • provide business intelligence about information usage patterns
    • support your business continuity plans
    • proactively identify areas to improve the quality of the outsourcing arrangement
  4. How will you support us beyond document storage and retrieval?
    To properly support your business operations, the outsourcing provider needs to provide services that go beyond the basics. As we all know, total records management is about much more than that! Find out how the provider is able to support you in the areas of compliance, legal discovery, and other areas critical to your business. The service package should include a support plan that is customized to your full set of business needs.
  5. Can you accommodate ad hoc records management projects?
    Even when you have outsourced your active RM function to a provider, special RM projects are always cropping up. For example, your organization may acquire another company, which requires a records audit, reclassification and document purge. It is important to find out if your outsourced provider can accommodate and support you in these situations. Ideally, the provider will have a purpose-built facility that is designed to accommodate many such projects at one time, allowing your organization to complete these projects quickly and with minimal disruption.

Are there any questions you would add? Let us know in the comments!

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