Selecting Records-Storage Software: Guidelines for Self-Storage Operators
|Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.|
|By: Cary F. McGovern|
|Posted on: 03/14/2010|
If you’re thinking about adding records storage as an ancillary service to your self-storage operation, one of the most perplexing decisions is the selection of software. This article discusses the factors you should consider.
About 10 or 12 years ago, records storage was considered an anathema in the self-storage business. These days, it’s the No.1 ancillary service for added long-term revenue. Hundreds of storage facilities have joined the ranks of commercial records management.
There are many considerations to make when starting a records-management service, including space, marketing and labor costs. But one of the most difficult decisions is which software to buy.
To begin, the cost of software should never be the most important factor in your choice. The majority of records-management software providers are high-integrity companies with many users around the globe. Each has a small business package priced for initial entry to the business. Each includes the software, training, technical support and, usually, at least one bar-code scanner with the purchase.
These software packages are typically similar in their initial pricing but have uniquely structured pricing for the long run, so you’ll need to understand what happens after the initial installation and in the year after the business is in full operation. One way to get this information is by asking each software vendor for an online demonstration of the product.
Here are some questions to ask every vendor when shopping for records-management software:
User-Friendliness of the System
These questions are common for the purchase of any operating software. None of these systems are completely intuitive; they require the manager to understand the system and how it works on an intimate basis. Operating software for any business is more complex than using Microsoft Office or QuickBooks. It requires business, accounting and technical knowledge, and “power users” are few and far between.
My purpose is not to frighten you away from the commercial records-management business, but to provide sound criteria for good judgment in choosing the right software that fits your operation’s needs. Speak with at least two or three users of the software after viewing the vendor’s demo. Ask for references, and then ask each reference for other industry referrals.
Choosing records-management software is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Make sure it’s the right one for you and your business.