February 1, 1998

6 Min Read
Records Management and Storage

Records Management and Storage

A Perspective for 1998 and Beyond

By Cary McGovern

The second installation of this two-part column will lookat what forces are driving records management and records storageand how technology will affect traditional forms of recordsmanagement. It will also discuss the players in the marketplace:the experts, the suppliers and the market-share leaders.Recordsmanagement and its essential partner, records storage, arechanging. Understanding these changes and their fundamentalnature will help you drive your records management and storagebusiness forward.

Leading Software
Suppliers for the
Commercial Records
Center Industry

Andrews Software Inc.
One Andrews Circle
Beckville, OH 44141
(800) 807-2093
(216) 838-8781

O'Neil Software Inc.
8 Mason
Irvine, CA 92718
(714) 458-1234

There are several important factors at work today in recordsmanagement and records storage:

Technological Factors

  • 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 electronicmedia--such as CD-ROM, tape, optical disks and otherhardware--was prohibitive to support the paper-less office.Today, powerful computing capabilities are available to anycompany or individual. Along with that, electronic-media storagedensity has increased exponentially. The advent of the CD-ROM andits newly released cousin DVD-ROM, allows fast, cheap storagewith immediate access. Portability and the ability to connectaround the world via the Internet allows anyone access tocomputing anywhere, anytime. Our children and grandchildren willbecome computer literate while they attend grade school, and somewill achieve literacy even before they reach school age. The fearand intimidation of computers will be nonexistent in thesegenerations. Along with this sociological change will be atendency to utilize computers as tools more so than we rely onpaper.

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 theincrease in computer output electronic files, paper output hasgrown, as well. There is great confusion in the marketplace.Sociological, legal and cost factors are conflicting for thisgeneration. As government and business contend with the change,paper records will continue to grow in volume but shrink as apercentage of the whole. As the volume of electronic recordsincreases, new opportunities will be created for those in therecords management and storage business. New services with lesslabor and perhaps higher margins will emerge.

Marketplace Factors

  • Outsourcing and Reengineering

  • Commercial Records Center Maturity and Consolidation

  • A Litigious Society

More and more companies are outsourcing non-core businessfunctions to companies that specialize in support services, suchas records management. In addition to outsourcing, many largebusinesses are also looking to reengineer their record-keepingmethods.

Commercial records centers grew up in the 1980s. The1990sproved to mature the marketplace with consolidation on thehorizon during the first half of the decade. Today in 1998, twomajor players, Pierce-Lehey and Iron Mountain, have risen to bepredominant forces in the commercial records center industry.Each of these has offices throughout the United States and isactively buying affiliates. This consolidation opens a new marketfor start-up operations in each community where consolidationoccurs. Although many large corporations have national contractswith the "big boys," regional and local companies maynot like doing business with someone from"out-of-town." So with this consolidation comes newopportunity for you.

America, in the last decade of the 20th Century, has become alitigious society. Business records are at the heart oflitigation. Remember, records management is a requirement, not achoice. Businesses are constantly looking for ways to save moneyin their record-keeping programs. Offering innovative recordsmanagement and storage services to the marketplace will certainlylead to added profits and market share.

Experts, suppliers and professional assistance in themarketplace are available to help you build yourrecords-management and storage business. Let's take a few momentsto discuss them.

Professional Associations: ARMA--The Association of RecordsManagers and Administrators

ARMA Mission Statement. ARMA is a not-for-profitprofessional association of more than 10,000 records andinformation management professionals in the United States, Canadaand around the world.

The Mission of ARMA International:

1. To advance records and information management as adiscipline and profession.

2. To organize and promote programs of research, education,training and networking in the profession of records andinformation management.

3. To support the enhancement of professionalism of themembers of ARMA International.

4. To promote cooperative endeavors with related professionalgroups.

Typically, cities have local chapters and the internationalorganization has an annual educational conference. ARMA issegmented into Industry Specific Groups (or ISGs). Several otherorganizations support these ISGs; e.g., NAGARA (state and localgovernment), PRISM International (commercial records centers) andothers. Other industry-specific organizations and relatedrecords-management focus groups can be located on the ARMA Website (www.arma.org/hq/) through links. The ARMA Rio GrandeChapter (www.flash.net/(survivor/websites.htm#arma) publishes anextensive list of Internet links that are helpful to anyoneinterested in the subject of records management.

PRISM International--Professional Records andInformation Services Management (Formerly ACRC)

PRISM is an affiliation of commercial-records center operatorsand entrepreneurs. It serves as both an educational and researchsource for its members. PRISM gathers and publishes informationabout its membership by size and geographical reference. Itoffers an annual educational conference in the spring of eachyear and an operational workshop each fall. You can view theirWeb site at www.prismintl.org.

ICR--The Institute of Certified Records Managers

The ICRM is an international certifying organization of andfor professional records and information managers. The ICRM wasincorporated in 1975 to set standards by which persons involvedin records and information management could be measured,accredited and recognized, according to criteria of experienceand capability established by their peers.

Although not officially part of ARMA, ICRM is operated out ofthe ARMA facility. CRM is a certification program forrecords-management professionals. It requires certain educationaland experience rigor and administers a six-part examination. CRMsare located throughout the United States and Canada, as well asscattered around the world. Many CRMs have consulting practices,which vary from specialized to general practices. You may findCRMs interested in partnering or contracting with your storagebusiness. The addition of a CRM to your business can broaden yourservice base significantly.

The Market-Share Leaders in the Commercial-RecordsCenter Industry

Pierce Lehey. Pierce Lehey is one of the largestrecords-management companies in North America, managing more than55 million cubic feet of business records for thousands ofclients within its 169 records-management facilities. PierceLehey stores all major media: paper, computer tapes, opticaldisks, microfilm, video tapes and X-rays. It provides recordsretrieval and delivery, allowing customers prompt access to allstored material. Facilities management, imaging and consultingservices are also available.

Iron Mountain. Iron Mountain Inc. is a full-servicerecords-management company providing storage and related servicesfor all major media, including paper, computer disks and tapes,microfilm and microfiche, master audio and video tapes, film andoptical disks, X-rays and blueprints. The company's principalservices include courier pick-up and delivery, filing andretrieval, destruction of records, database management andcustomized reporting. The company also sells storage materialsand provides consulting and other records-related services.

Regular columnist Cary F. McGovern is a certified recordsmanager and owner of File Managers Inc., a records-managementconsulting firm that also provides outsourcing services,file-room management and litigation support services for thelegal industry. For more information about records management,contact Mr. McGovern at File Managers Inc., P.O. Box 1178, AbitaSprings, LA 70420; phone (504) 871-0092; fax (504) 893-1751;email [email protected]; Web site http://www.fileman.com.

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