Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Guide to Storing and Destroying Documents

A Guide to Storing and Destroying Documents
The Lifecycle of a Document, From Storage to Shredding, Impacts Your Business

Nobody knows what happened to the so-called "paperless offices" predicted for the computer age, as 80 to 90 percent of all information in the average office is still maintained on paper(1). The importance of records management in a business cannot be exaggerated, as storing records is a major commitment of time and space, and keeping (or not keeping) the wrong documents on-hand can lead to penalties, fines and lawsuits.

Fellowes, Inc., manufacturer of Bankers Box® records storage products and the nation's leading shredder company, understands the needs of records managers from start to finish. With a full series of Bankers Box records storage products and a line of shredders specifically designed for the office, Fellowes has the products for document management in all stages.

The Lifecycle of a Document
Even in our digital age, it's a necessity to keep original documents. Many records are subject to operational requirements as well as legal ones. The Arthur Anderson and Enron scandals raised troubling questions about records management. In fact, these cases led to the Sarbanes-Oxly Act of 2002, making records management a priority and legal obligation. Under the act, companies can be subject to penalties if they destroy potentially relevant records.

Managing these files is simple enough, right? Wrong. Organization is critical to the success and profitability of a business. The average U.S. executive wastes six weeks per year with ineffective business office filing systems, and on average it costs $120 in labor to track down a misplaced document or $250 to recreate it(1). To start, documents have different accessibility needs, as some need to be accessed monthly while others may not be needed for years but still have to be kept for record.

Additionally, as files are archived and stacked, the weight of records adds up, making strength and durability a necessity in records storage boxes. If boxes collapse, important documents can be crushed, torn or destroyed. Bankers Box records storage boxes have strength you can count on, taking on the weight of the most demanding businesses because of patented construction and materials. In fact, these boxes can handle up to 850 pounds of stacked weight.

An effective records management program ensures compliance with recordkeeping requirements and government regulations to help avoid costly penalties or fines, while also reducing labor requirements for organization and record retrieval time. Efficient records management can be started by dividing records into four stages for proper storage or disposal actions:

1. Active: These documents are currently in use and are frequently
accessed in the office or during business travel in a vehicle. They're
pertinent for day-to-day business activities and referenced often.

2. Semi-Active: These documents are infrequently accessed. Bankers Box
records storage drawers, the well-known boxes with sliding file
drawers, are ideal for easy access, for offices with limited storage
space, and rooms without shelving units. Additionally, the storage
drawers are a lot easier to move than metal filing cabinets.

3. Inactive: Used less frequently, these documents are typically more
than two years old and are kept in "archival storage" to meet legal
requirements. When accessed infrequently, Bankers Box storage boxes
present the ideal storage option. Eighty-five percent stronger than
the basic box, Bankers Box can take the weight of the most demanding
businesses. The boxes can stack with or without shelving units and
can hold up to 850 pounds of stacked weight. A frantic search for a
document can be made even worse when documents are found destroyed or
crushed due to inadequate storage.

4. Disposal: These documents are no longer required under a company's
retention policy and should be securely disposed of to reduce records
management costs. By disposing these documents, a company also
reduces potential legal liabilities caused by retaining records longer
than required.

Protecting Yourself and Your Customers: Be Safe, Shred It(TM)!

More than ever, destroying a document is an integral part of the document's management process. Every organization creates information such as research reports and marketing documents which, in the wrong hands, is a potential threat.

Privacy and protection legislation requires businesses of all sizes to properly manage and dispose of consumers' personal information. For example, the passage of The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) requires all employers and business owners to properly dispose of documents containing personal information that is derived from consumer reports. Shredding is recommended as an appropriate means for disposal.

Additionally, to offset the threat of corporate espionage, businesses should consider shredders with confetti-cut capabilities as the best way to destroy documents. Fellowes offers commercial office shredders ideal for businesses looking to effectively destroy significant amounts of documents, files and CD's. Fellowes commercial shredders are designed with a special turbo jam release button to allow the user to power through most paper jams. A waste basket adds the benefit of easy disposal.

Multiple variations of Bankers Box storage boxes and drawers and Fellowes shredders are available for records managers for any document organization need. For more information and product listings, please visit

About Fellowes
Headquartered in Itasca, Ill., Fellowes, Inc. offers an impressive range of products to equip the workspace, including paper shredders, binders and laminators, desktop accessories and records storage solutions. Fellowes, Inc. owns and operates subsidiaries in Canada, United Kingdom, Benelux, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Singapore, Japan, Korea, China and Australia, the company employs more than 1,200 people throughout the world and expects global sales in excess of $700 million this year.

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