A Perspective for 1998 and Beyond
By Cary McGovern
The second installation of this two-part column will look at what forces are driving records management and records storage and how technology will affect traditional forms of records management. It will also discuss the players in the marketplace: the experts, the suppliers and the market-share leaders.Records management and its essential partner, records storage, are changing. Understanding these changes and their fundamental nature will help you drive your records management and storage business forward.
Andrews Software Inc.
O'Neil Software Inc.
There are several important factors at work today in records management and records storage:
- Faster and Cheaper Processors
- Lower Cost Electronic-Storage Media
- Distributed Computing
- Increased PC Literacy
Let's take some time to discuss these factors. Until recently, the processing speed and the cost of storing electronic media--such as CD-ROM, tape, optical disks and other hardware--was prohibitive to support the paper-less office. Today, powerful computing capabilities are available to any company or individual. Along with that, electronic-media storage density has increased exponentially. The advent of the CD-ROM and its newly released cousin DVD-ROM, allows fast, cheap storage with immediate access. Portability and the ability to connect around the world via the Internet allows anyone access to computing anywhere, anytime. Our children and grandchildren will become computer literate while they attend grade school, and some will achieve literacy even before they reach school age. The fear and intimidation of computers will be nonexistent in these generations. Along with this sociological change will be a tendency to utilize computers as tools more so than we rely on paper.
If this sounds a bit ominous for the records-storage business, you may be surprised. Today and for the foreseeable future, output volume of the printed page continues to grow. Despite the increase in computer output electronic files, paper output has grown, as well. There is great confusion in the marketplace. Sociological, legal and cost factors are conflicting for this generation. As government and business contend with the change, paper records will continue to grow in volume but shrink as a percentage of the whole. As the volume of electronic records increases, new opportunities will be created for those in the records management and storage business. New services with less labor and perhaps higher margins will emerge.
- Outsourcing and Reengineering
- Commercial Records Center Maturity and Consolidation
- A Litigious Society
More and more companies are outsourcing non-core business functions to companies that specialize in support services, such as records management. In addition to outsourcing, many large businesses are also looking to reengineer their record-keeping methods.
Commercial records centers grew up in the 1980s. The1990s proved to mature the marketplace with consolidation on the horizon during the first half of the decade. Today in 1998, two major players, Pierce-Lehey and Iron Mountain, have risen to be predominant forces in the commercial records center industry. Each of these has offices throughout the United States and is actively buying affiliates. This consolidation opens a new market for start-up operations in each community where consolidation occurs. Although many large corporations have national contracts with the "big boys," regional and local companies may not like doing business with someone from "out-of-town." So with this consolidation comes new opportunity for you.
America, in the last decade of the 20th Century, has become a litigious society. Business records are at the heart of litigation. Remember, records management is a requirement, not a choice. Businesses are constantly looking for ways to save money in their record-keeping programs. Offering innovative records management and storage services to the marketplace will certainly lead to added profits and market share.
Experts, suppliers and professional assistance in the marketplace are available to help you build your records-management and storage business. Let's take a few moments to discuss them.
Professional Associations: ARMA--The Association of Records Managers and Administrators
ARMA Mission Statement. ARMA is a not-for-profit professional association of more than 10,000 records and information management professionals in the United States, Canada and around the world.
The Mission of ARMA International:
1. To advance records and information management as a discipline and profession.
2. To organize and promote programs of research, education, training and networking in the profession of records and information management.
3. To support the enhancement of professionalism of the members of ARMA International.
4. To promote cooperative endeavors with related professional groups.
Typically, cities have local chapters and the international organization has an annual educational conference. ARMA is segmented into Industry Specific Groups (or ISGs). Several other organizations support these ISGs; e.g., NAGARA (state and local government), PRISM International (commercial records centers) and others. Other industry-specific organizations and related records-management focus groups can be located on the ARMA Web site (www.arma.org/hq/) through links. The ARMA Rio Grande Chapter (www.flash.net/(survivor/websites.htm#arma) publishes an extensive list of Internet links that are helpful to anyone interested in the subject of records management.
PRISM International--Professional Records and Information Services Management (Formerly ACRC)
PRISM is an affiliation of commercial-records center operators and entrepreneurs. It serves as both an educational and research source for its members. PRISM gathers and publishes information about its membership by size and geographical reference. It offers an annual educational conference in the spring of each year and an operational workshop each fall. You can view their Web site at www.prismintl.org.
ICR--The Institute of Certified Records Managers
The ICRM is an international certifying organization of and for professional records and information managers. The ICRM was incorporated in 1975 to set standards by which persons involved in records and information management could be measured, accredited and recognized, according to criteria of experience and capability established by their peers.
Although not officially part of ARMA, ICRM is operated out of the ARMA facility. CRM is a certification program for records-management professionals. It requires certain educational and experience rigor and administers a six-part examination. CRMs are located throughout the United States and Canada, as well as scattered around the world. Many CRMs have consulting practices, which vary from specialized to general practices. You may find CRMs interested in partnering or contracting with your storage business. The addition of a CRM to your business can broaden your service base significantly.
The Market-Share Leaders in the Commercial-Records Center Industry
Pierce Lehey. Pierce Lehey is one of the largest records-management companies in North America, managing more than 55 million cubic feet of business records for thousands of clients within its 169 records-management facilities. Pierce Lehey stores all major media: paper, computer tapes, optical disks, microfilm, video tapes and X-rays. It provides records retrieval and delivery, allowing customers prompt access to all stored material. Facilities management, imaging and consulting services are also available.
Iron Mountain. Iron Mountain Inc. is a full-service records-management company providing storage and related services for all major media, including paper, computer disks and tapes, microfilm and microfiche, master audio and video tapes, film and optical disks, X-rays and blueprints. The company's principal services include courier pick-up and delivery, filing and retrieval, destruction of records, database management and customized reporting. The company also sells storage materials and provides consulting and other records-related services.
Regular columnist Cary F. McGovern is a certified records manager and owner of File Managers Inc., a records-management consulting firm that also provides outsourcing services, file-room management and litigation support services for the legal industry. For more information about records management, contact Mr. McGovern at File Managers Inc., P.O. Box 1178, Abita Springs, LA 70420; phone (504) 871-0092; fax (504) 893-1751; email firstname.lastname@example.org ; Web site http://www.fileman.com.