Inside Self-Storage 06/2001: Wireless 'Issues' That Sell Records Management

June 1, 2001

4 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage 06/2001: Wireless 'Issues' That Sell Records

Wireless 'Issues' That Sell Records Management

By Cary McGovern

An issue is "somethingthat should be considered" within a customer's records-management program.It is not always a problem--it could be a pointer or indicator of a problem. Itis a key to resolving a customer's "pain." For the person sellingrecords management, it indicates an opportunity to make money. This articlediscusses how to identify issues and turn them into profits.

Selling records management is never the same as selling records storage.Records storage is a commodity anyone can offer if he has space to rent. Recordsmanagement is a system that includes value-added features that benefit thecustomer and create revenue opportunities for you.

Finding Issues

Records management is essentially inventory control, which means knowing whatyou have, where it is, how to find it when you need it, and when to get rid ofit. There is always much more to the system than just putting records out ofsite and out of mind. Records management embodies four processes:

  • Indexing includes identification, classification and description of the records.

  • Packaging includes selecting the method, mode and media of filing.

  • Locating includes an automated system for tracking and action prompting.

  • Disposing includes retention, approval, processing, migration or destruction, and proof of that destruction.

Issues abound in these four processes. Let's look at them more closely.


The only reason we file anything is so we can find it later. Finding therecord later is always made easier through appropriate indexing. Indexing issimple. The person most knowledgeable about a record should index it whencreating the record unit. The most important part of the index system isstandardization--always naming a record series (homogeneous grouping) the sameway.

There are seven key identifiers for a box of records: record name (series),dates from and to, sequence from and to, record owner (department or work unit)and destruction date. Almost any record can be found if identified to thisindex. File indexing can be different for each filing system. Legal filesinclude client name, matter description, billing attorney, date opened and dateclosed. Medical records include patient name, patient number, date of treatment,date of birth and social-security number. Insurance-claim files include claimantname, claimant number and date of claim. Others can be quite different fromthese. Simply index based on how you would best find the records.


Using the correct box is crucial to records-management systems. Customerstend to use the closest box at hand--a shoe box or an old copy-paper carton.These are single-use boxes that cause havoc in records-management programs.Boxes need to be made of double- or triple-wall construction. Generally, thestandard letter/legal box is the right size. There may be exceptions, but onlyfor odd-sized files such as engineering drawings or X-rays.

Files should be placed in these boxes in the same order they were in theoffice filing system. It is always wrong to file randomly. There must be somemethod to the madness. Where possible, files should be maintained in theiroriginal filing jackets or folders.


Barcode systems are the best choice for records management. These systemsgenerally require two barcodes, a "what it is" barcode and a"where it is" barcode. The "what it is" barcode referencesthe index of the box. The "where it is" barcode references thelocation of the record unit.

This system facilitates the two processes that ensure control. File trackingis the check-in and check-out mechanism that assigns a file to a location andupdates it when it is changed. The file-action prompting mechanism periodicallyasks for a removed record unit to be returned to its home location. This is muchlike a library's method of asking for a book when it is past due. A record thatis out of inventory for long periods of time is the one that is most likely tobe lost or missing.


Getting rid of records promptly is the key to litigation avoidance. Ofcourse, setting up a legitimate retention schedule that is researched andvalidated is the first step in the destruction process. That step requiresproper identification, packaging and location mapping. Disposal can either meandestruction or migration to another media for long-term storage, such asscanning and archiving records on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM. Destruction requiresauthorization, appropriate methods and authentication.

Identifying Issues

The survey process I have described in past articles uncovers the issues. Theprocess includes the questionnaire, customer interview and"walk-about." The questionnaire is always preliminary to the surveyand asks the customer 15 leading questions simply answered by a check-off. Theinterview seeks answers to the prime questions: who, what, when, where, how andwhy? The walk-about visually displays the problems encountered in thequestionnaire and the interview. The key question during the walk-about is,"why?"

Issues as Revenue Opportunities

In the last few paragraphs, I have disclosed the primary revenueopportunities in selling records-management programs. Remember: Selling storageis only the tip of the iceberg. Surveys disclose the pain of the customer. Inmost surveys, you can uncover dozens of issues, the resolution of which isalways a revenue opportunity for you.

Next month, we'lltalk about closing the sale.

Regular columnist Cary McGovern, CRM, is the principal of FileMan andFIRMS Services, which offer full-service records-management assistance forcommercial records-storage start-ups within self-storage operations. Forassistance in feasibility determination, operational implementation or marketingsupport, call 877.FILEMAN, e-mail [email protected];

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