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WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO GET MORE STORAGE CAPACITY OUT OF MY EXISTING SPACE?
There are several best practices that organizations use when getting more space that isn’t possible. The first step is to look at the efficiency of the storage equipment that you’re currently using. When we think about the efficiency of various storage methods we look at how many linear inches of storage capacity we get for each square foot we take up. For instance, a filing cabinet only gets about ____ inches per square foot versus a high density filing system which gets 54 inches per square foot. Often, using a different type of storage equipment that uses more of the vertical space in the room let’s you fit more in the room without taking up any more floor space.
There’s another issue that plays into storage space utilization though. Often organizations are out of space, not because they need to put more items into their store room, but because they never take anything out. Keeping records that can legally be destroyed is sometimes as risky as destroying something too early. Often, a storage problem can be fixed by putting together an accurate retention schedule that lets you confidently destroy records that are not of value any longer.
HOW MUCH WEIGHT WILL A HIGH DENSITY SYSTEM PUT ON MY BUILDING STRUCTURE?
Like all good questions the answer to this one is “It Depends”. The factors are:
1. What items are being stored and their individual weight
2. Distribution of the weight on the storage footprint.
3. The overall height of the high density storage system
High density storage systems do not evenly distribute the weight of the system over it’s footprint. Since the carriages of the system move over rails the weight is concentrated over the rails in “line loads” so understanding the weight distribution of the system means knowing how many pounds of weight are being borne by each foot of rail. As the system is being designed that data can be provided to an engineer so that a determination can be made about how the floor system in the building would support the weight. Even heavy systems can sometimes be accommodated by adding rails, changing the system orientation, or by other non-invasive measures.
WHAT'S THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STORAGE & ACCESS?
Although it may not seem like it on the surface, storage and access are very interrelated. Studies show that for every $1 spent on managing physical information/assets, $0.50-$0.70 is spent on the labor cost of accessing, moving, creating, managing that information over it’s lifetime. The lesson in that study is that if you can reduce the amount of labor (access) time that it takes to manage your assets, whether its equipment, files, or books, you’ll actually save more money over time versus just worrying about the most efficient storage.
When we look at how an organization stores and accesses information we naturally look at the storage environment, which includes aspects like efficiency, security, aesthetics, and others. But, based on this principle of managing storage & access our work isn’t done until we also look at the cost of accessing the item through it’s lifecycle. The savings can be dramatic. What used to take 4 FTE’s might be done with 2 FTE’s once a system that manages both the storage and access is implemented.
CAN MULTIPLE DEPARTMENTS HAVE THEIR ASSETS SECURELY STORED IN A CENTRAL STORAGE AREA?
Yes, one of the trends that is happening through facilities today is the centralization of storage space. Whether its files, archives, inventory, athletic equipment, or even weapons there are efficiencies that are gained by co-locating storage spaces. If the right storage system is selected, access to certain portions of the storage system can be restricted by an individual person, a department, or any other group. An audit trail of the access to the system can be kept as well which provides total accountability for the items that are in the system.
If a smart storage system like that is combined with an asset software tracking system that uses barcodes or RFID items can even be tracked as they’re used in different parts of the building.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO KEEP MY RECORDS?
Here’s another one of those “it depends” answers. Most organizations use what’s called a retention schedule to guide how long records are kept. There are several reasons that a record might be kept even once the active use portion of its life has ended. There may be business specific reasons for keeping a record. For instance, if the record could be reactivated at some point in the future. This is a common occurrence with doctors who might see patients periodically over a long period of time.
Besides business reasons for keeping records there are often governmental and regulatory reasons that a record should be kept. Certain types of records can be regulated by agencies such as the IRS, FDA, and others. In case of an audit, it is important to be able to produce records (whether physical or electronic) that have not met their timeframe for destruction.
If you don’t have a retention schedule with specific steps, then you should consider developing one. The first question to ask is “What records do I have”. A records inventory will help ensure that you are aware of all the records the organization has, then allow you to organize them into specific file series. Then, a specific retention time period can be established for each records series. It’s important in the development of the schedule that each stakeholder is consulted to ensure that issues like legal holds and record use are accounted for. It seems like a complicated task, but development of a retention schedule will not only reduce your legal exposure it will greatly decrease your records management cost over time.