March is a good time to get stuff in order. After all, it’s the start of spring. So, you know, spring clean and all that. Actually, your paper archives should be in order all year round but if you’ve been looking for something to give you the push you need to get your storage organised – and you missed the ‘New Year, new start’ one – then this is as good as any.

A good storage system is the kind of thing you don’t tend to notice. Because it’s good, so you can get on with whatever it is you’re meant to be doing and not actually have to think about it all that much. That’s what it’s meant to do – support the smooth running of your business.

A bad storage system, however, will demand your attention like one of those inane charity muggers that accost you with a toothy grin and an insincere compliment before guilt-tripping you into spending a week’s grocery budget on saving a rare species of giant South American ant.

When your paper archives are improperly stored, files can go missing, get destroyed, or wind up in the wrong hands (not ideal if the information you’re storing is sensitive). No one needs that kind of stress in their lives. So while giving your storage a health check probably isn’t high on your list of fun ways to spend your time, it’s really worth thinking about in order to save guaranteed hassle and potential disaster.

And it doesn’t have to take long. Just ask yourselves these questions…

How long does it take you to find things?

Your time is valuable. If you’re spending more of it than you have to trying to dig out the quote you sent that big client last quarter, or wading through endless sales reports to get hold of the one you need for that big presentation, your storage system needs a rethink.

How often do you need to find things?

Endless archive boxes stacked high on top of one another are all very well* if you don’t need to get to their contents outside of an audit inspection. But try and use a system like that on a daily basis and someone is going to end up signed off work with a bad back. (*Actually they’re not – that’s just dangerous.)

Who knows how to find things?

Ah, Bernard – such a useful chap. Knows the archives like the back of his hand. Only Bernard’s on holiday / off sick / decided to move to Thailand and live in a shack on the beach. Now what? Relying on one person who understands your storage system is very dangerous indeed.

Once you’ve found what you want, does it get put back properly?

No one likes filing – except maybe Bernard, but he’s off in Thailand. But a document storage system is only as good as the people who use it, and if even one person has one lazy day, you could end up losing something vital.

How easy is it to access your storage?

We’ve seen some storage rooms that are harder to get into (and out of) than a Crystal Maze-style locked room mystery. A dodgy loft that can only be accessed by ladder, or a tiny room piled high with unstable archive boxes, is a health and safety issue just waiting to happen.

How safe is your storage?

From thieves, fire, flood, nuclear attack, alien invasion. As we mentioned in our recent blog post on data security, more than 60% of companies never recover from a major loss of data. Then there’s the potential problem of rats, mice, birds and even wasps, who like nothing better than to use strips of conveniently boxed up paper to make their homes.

What are the conditions like?

Another danger to your stored paper archives is moisture. A damp basement is really not a great place to store anything made of paper. Lighting is another factor. While you want to ensure there’s enough light for you to access your records without the need of a flashlight, some printed materials can degrade with the wrong type of light, especially anything printed on thermal paper.

So, the solution? You could reorganise your paper archives on site. You could get someone (us, we mean us) to store it for you in a 24-7 monitored, security protected, climate controlled environment with trackable barcoded boxes and an on-demand delivery system. Or best yet, create a digital archive that you can access at the touch of a button, before destroying or storing the originals (we can do that too, by the way – the digital stuff, and the secure destruction).

Want someone to provide you with a free assessment of your current storage systems and paper archives? Give us a call and we’ll help you protect your documents properly.