Did you know that approximately 45% of small-to-medium-sized companies are still reliant on paper documentation for the everyday running of their operations? Furthermore, it is estimated that 60% of service businesses - those that provice a service rather than a product - are paper-based too. Physical files might include things like customer information, invoices, contracts and other records, but what is certain is all forms of paperwork will need to be managed appropriately - especially if it includes personal information subject to GDPR.


What are your options for managing the files? You could sort through them and shred the ones that are obsolete and not subject to compulsory retention periods, but you will likely still have documents that need to go somewhere. For many organisations, that ‘somewhere’ is a vacant office space that becomes a not-quite-fit-for-purpose storage area. Its security is likely to be insufficient, its temperature and humidity might fluctuate, and searching for a specific file can quickly become akin to trying to find a needle in a particularly messy haystack.


But there is another option available to you - outsourcing document storage. That means entrusting the management of the physical data to experienced specialists like ourselves that have spent more than 30 years ensuring that documents are kept secure and are easily accessible only to explicitly authorised persons.


In this blog post, we want to explore a few of the key reasons for outsourcing document management. Let’s start with...


Enhanced security and compliance

Any business that handles identifiable personal data must adhere to strict GDPR laws. That means the data that you are storing must only be kept to fulfil a specific purpose (or to meet necessary retention schedules), must be kept securely, must not be lost or damaged and must be accessible on request by the person that the data relates to. Failure to manage the data responsibly can lead to significant legal and financial consequences that can be very damaging to your organisation.


Outsourcing document storage to a professional service provider, on the other hand, ensures that these stringent requirements are met without placing the burden on your internal teams. Whereas the concept of document storage is likely to be a secondary activity within your company, it’s a primary one within ours, so you are trusting the responsibility of data protection to professionals whose entire focus is on legal compliance and responsible data management.


Most third-party facilities, such as ours, have biometric security systems that can identify an individual’s physical characteristics to protect and authenticate their identity. Every access request - whether authorised or not - is logged, creating a comprehensive audit trail that can be referred back to at a later date.



Improved space utilisation

It is somewhat stating the obvious, but physical files take up space. The more files you have, the more space you will need to accommodate them. If you have been in business for a while, you will likely have accumulated thousands, if not tens of thousands of files, requiring safe, responsible sorting and storage. Those files might live under the desks of your employees, in a filing cabinet, in three filing cabinets as your inventory increases, and finally in a room that is used for nothing else except floor-to-ceiling document storage. 


We have even seen companies where the useful space is dwarfed by files, creating an inconvenient obstacle course for the members of staff who are forced to co-habit with the documents.


But, as we have already mentioned, those filing cabinets and that room are not adequate for responsible document management. By outsourcing document storage, you free up space in your facilities that can be put to better use. Whether the former storage room becomes a staff space with a ping pong table, an office for members of the senior leadership team, or simply an additional meeting room, it will be infinitely more useful than being filled with stacks of files.


Reduced costs of storage

As employers continue to recall their teams to the office, rents are at a premium. If you have a room filled with files, you are, therefore, likely paying a higher cost to store them than you would at a third-party dedicated facility. We say that because your office might be in a great location (with public transport links and all the necessary amenities nearby) for your employees, whereas document storage facilities can be in a much more affordable area without these links and amenities.

That being said, it is not the square-footage and the location alone that influence the amount you save. There are other, perhaps more holistic, factors that are taken care of when you outsource. They include:


Training costs

Responsible document management, if done correctly in-house, requires expertise - including a familiarity with GDPR obligations and an understanding of your particular file storage catalogue. By outsourcing, you reduce the burden of training necessary to manage your files.


Labour costs

In your current setup, you might have a member of staff dedicated to the management of the files. Even if it is just one part of their duties, it is still salaried time that is being dedicated to the documentation. Outsourcing the file management means that employee or those employees can spend less time filing, naming and retrieving files, allowing them to focus on core business activities, rather than peripheral ones.


Security costs

If you are storing the files correctly - which we are sure you are - it is important that you take the necessary steps (and spend the necessary amount of money) to secure them. That might include an enhanced security system (maintained by an engineer and IT specialists) and patrolling personnel who prevent unauthorised access. At a third-party facility, those things are taken care of, ensuring that you are receiving the cheapest rate and the highest level of security.


Energy costs

Files need a very particular environment for their successful long-term storage that can be ensured through the use of air conditioning units, ventilation and heating systems. These appliances all require energy which is an additional cost eliminated when storage is outsourced to dedicated professionals.


Increased flexibility

Arguably the biggest benefit for many of our clients is the ability to up-scale or downsize their document storage needs at the drop of a hat. After all, sometimes you will have a lot of paperwork that needs a home, at other times you will have very little. If you have one room in your office dedicated to storage and you suddenly have more files than anticipated, they might spill out of this dedicated space and into the other ‘useable’ space in your facility. Likewise, if you suddenly reduce your documentation and storage burden, you may find yourself paying the same rates unnecessarily - after all, moving can itself be quite a financially demanding and generally disruptive process.


If you choose to entrust your documents to a third-party storage expert, you can raise or lower your needs at short notice, giving you the full flexibility that an in-house solution simply can’t offer.


Outsourcing document storage means that you are paying for specialist expertise, flexibility and security, but you are doing so at a far lower pricetag than you would do when keeping it in-house. If you would like to know more about our service options and pricetags, speak to a member of our team today.