Super simple ways to save your business money in 2019

Hands up who wants to be rich in 2019? Sorry folks, we don’t have any magic bullets nor the winning lottery numbers. No, don’t leave yet! Rather than telling you how you can get rich, we thought we’d share some tips that will help you save money. Which is pretty much the same thing, right?

Here are some of our top ways to save your business money in 2019:

1) Go flexible

The flexible working movement is going great guns at the moment as everyone from millennials to mums realise that life is a whole lot easier – and more fun – when you’re not chained to a desk from 9 to 5 (we always said Dolly Parton was way ahead of her time). It’s got huge benefits for businesses too, one of which is that it can save you money.

If there’s a function in the business that doesn’t need you to chuck a full time salary at it, go part time. Let some of your team work from home, if that’s appropriate, saving money on office space or desk rent. Taking a long term view, offering flexibility is likely to boost employee morale, wellbeing and loyalty, which means you should see staff turnover drop and therefore save money on recruitment too. Winner!

2) Outsource

It may sound a little counter intuitive to pay someone in order to save money, but think about it. Your time is not free, neither is that of your staff. You pay salaries, right? You could be out winning new contracts. There is a value to what each person on your payroll is doing. And if they’re doing stuff they’re not good at, taking twice as long as a professional and producing a shoddy end result then are you really being particularly cost effective?

Outsourcing anything from your content marketing to your archive management can take the pressure off, improve results, save time and yes, even save you money in 2019.

3) Ditch the archive

Another way to reduce your spend on office space is to seriously reduce the amount of stuff you have. Why would you pay however much it is you’re paying per square foot on office rent just to keep a roof over a bunch of archive boxes? Instead, could you have them scanned and then securely destroyed? Or would it be more cost effective to look into off site storage? (Ahem, we can definitely provide you with a quote to get you started, if that’s of interest.)

The other advantage of scanning your documents is that they’re ever so much easier to find. If we do say so ourselves, we’re really very good at creating well organised systems and we can even train your staff in how to use them so you can access whatever you need at a touch of a button. Which means no-one wastes time going on dusty expeditions through the archive room, which, given that time is money, is a money saver in itself.

4) Leverage technology

So we’re living in a digital age now, in case you hadn’t noticed. Which can be disconcerting for those of us who grew up with only five TV channels and phones that were wired into a wall. But the good news is that technology offers huge opportunities for saving money as a business.

For example, rather than paying someone to man the phones all day answering mind-numbing questions like, “What time do you open?” and “Can you ship items to the Isle of White?” you could get a chatbot to answer them for you on your website or use a virtual telephone answering service like our friends at Good Call.

5) Seek out budget hacks

We didn’t really like Tesco’s strapline when it first came out but “Every little helps” is definitely quicker to say than “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”. Whichever version you prefer, the sentiment is true. Adopt an attitude of cost saving for 2019 and you’ll be surprised how many opportunities you spot.

For example, if you need stock images then head over to Pexels or Unsplash rather than paying a fortune in royalties. Or switch from sending out physical invoices to using an online system – if things need signing you can always use an e-signature service like Docusign. This last example will reduce your paper usage too, which is good for the planet, so that’s a bonus win right there.

So, which one do you think offers your business the best chance of saving money in 2019? If it’s #3 then give us a shout to see how we can help (you’ll be ticking box #2 and probably #4 too, so it’s an all round winning choice!).

Warning: GDPR isn’t just an online issue

Alarm clock showing GDPR deadline approachingDo you know what the date is on Sunday? No, don’t start scrabbling for your calendar app, we’ll tell you – it’s the 18th. Which happens to mark two months until GDPR kicks in. Yikes! How did that come about so fast??

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard of the General Data Protection Regulation. But just in case you haven’t, it’s the new law that will be building on the current Data Protection Act (DPA).

Laws, as we know, are complex things. So we’re not going to try and give you an in-depth guide here, ok? For that, you want to check out the guys over at the Information Commissioner’s Office.

We just wanted to remind you of one very important fact: GDPR doesn’t just apply to online data.

So you know those boxes of files you’ve got stored away? (Hopefully nice and neatly in our purpose-build storage facility in Bridgwater, but possibly in a slightly damp and scary storage room where spiders and dust bunnies vie for dominance). Well, they need some attention.

Individual rights covered by GDPR

GDPR is all about protecting people’s personal data. In fact, it gives individuals very specific rights:

  • Right to be informed – in other words, people need to know what you store and how, which is where a privacy policy is important.
  • Right of access – so basically people can check up on what you have on them and what you’re doing with it.
  • Right to rectification – which sounds like a terrifying medical procedure but just means if there’s an error in the data then they can ask for it to be rectified.
  • Right to erasure – also known as the right to be forgotten, so if the data is no longer actively being used then an individual can ask for it to be permanently destroyed or erased if it’s held electronically.
  • Right to restrict processing – a slightly more complex one about being able to store a certain amount of info but not actually use it.
  • Right to data portability – so people should be able to take the data you have on them and use them in other places.
  • Right to object – about specific processing or direct marketing using their data.
  • Rights related to automated decision-making including profiling – a complicated one that’s difficult to summarise so if you’re super interested then have a look here.

How does GDPR affect my archives?

Ok, so what does this mean for you and those box files of archived customer records and invoices from 1972? And why are we bothering you about it when you’d really rather be out on the golf course?

Well in the smallest of nutshells, you need to think about whether any of those boxes might contain personal data. Which includes (but is not restricted to):

  • Personal financial details
  • Medical records
  • Contact details
  • Online identifiers
  • So-called ‘sensitive data’ such as political opinions or trade union membership

If it does, and you don’t have a right to that data, then you might need to consider destroying it. And we don’t just mean sticking it in a black bin bag and waiting for collection day. Secure data destruction is something we take really rather seriously – we shred paper in two different directions and then pulp it so there’s absolutely no way it will end up in the wrong hands.

If you’re within your rights to hold the data, you’ve still got a little more work to do. Because GDPR isn’t just about what you collect and how, it’s also about protection. Which means if anyone can stroll into your archive room and get Jo Bloggs’ postal address and latest utility bill, you’ve got an issue.

Secure document storage will be even more essential than ever in the new GDPR world. You could invest time and resources into giving your current in-house storage a health check. Or you could get in touch with a company like us. Our HQ is alarmed and monitored 24-7, plus it’s environmentally regulated so you don’t need to worry about things like damp or sunlight or anything else that print documents just don’t like.

If you still want to gen up on GDPR in more detail, do check out the ICO’s 12 step guide on how to prepare for GDPR. But if you’re ready to take action and get yourself ready for that deadline in two months, do get in touch and ask the team about our secure data destruction and storage facilities today.

What every office manager needs to know about data security

Flooded office... Scan Film or Store: What every office manager needs to know about data securityWhat would happen if you lost all your data? Sorry, perhaps we should have started with something a little gentler. Cup of tea? Biscuit?

No one likes to talk about data security. Just like no one likes to talk about insurance or funeral planning or what sausages are really made of.

It’s almost bad luck, isn’t it? Like the mere mention of the concept might summon a disaster, much like saying the name Candy Man out loud (as an aside, can you believe it’s been 25 years since that film came out??).

Thing is, and you might want to brace yourself for this, more than 60% of companies never recover from a major loss of data.

Now you may think that your data is perfectly secure, thank you very much – you’ve got the latest systems installed, you use the Cloud and all that sort of high tech malarky.

But here’s the thing: what about your printed data? That’s right, just because it’s old fashion paper and ink, doesn’t means it’s not data – or that it can’t cause havoc if it’s lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed.

Before you give up reading in despair, there is hope! Here’s our handy guide to protecting your printed data from pretty much everything except an invasion of data eating alien life forms.

Keep it dry

Paper and water do not make good bed fellows. Too much moisture and you’ll end up with papers that stick together, go mouldy or even start turning to pulp, making them unreadable.

Keep it ventilated

A badly ventilated room is likely to get damp simply because there’s a degree of moisture in the atmosphere, and therefore you’re going to end up with the same problems, especially the mould.

Get it scanned

If there’s a disaster at your office – fire, flood, plague of paper eating locusts – you’re going to wish you had copies of everything, aren’t you? Ideally copies that the locusts won’t want to eat. Also, anything printed on a thermo-printer (like till receipts, for example) will fade over time. If you’ve got boxes of archived expenses in your storeroom, you might want to check and see whether they’re blank yet.

Destroy it properly

Simply chucking a barrowload of old box files on the recycling pile is not enough – haven’t you watched any spy movies? Sensitive paperwork has a way of getting into the wrong hands. Destruction is a far safer option, and if you want to be 100% sure no ones going to go rifling through your secrets (or your customers’ secrets), you’re best off getting them professionally cross-shredded and pulped.

Incidentally, the same goes for microfilm and microfiche. Given that the images on these are roughly a centimetre wide, using a regular shredder will at best lop an image in half, leaving an awful lot that can still be read and understood. The only way to properly destroy them is via incineration. And before you go hauling your galvanised garden burner out of the shed, it’s worth noting that microfilm and microfiche burn at 2000 degrees and release dangerous pathogens so if the heat doesn’t kill you the fumes will! Best leave that to the professionals.

Store it offsite

Finally, for those documents you’re obliged to keep in their original form for a certain period of time, we’re back to the issues of damp and ventilation. Oh, and theft as well. And human error (well, it’s not easy keeping track of all those papers, is it?). The best solution is professional offsite storage in a secure, monitored and alarmed facility with an advanced barcode tracking system and on demand retrieval services. (FYI: we might know someone who can help with this.)

So there we are – a few simple tips to help protect your data. We hope your business remains disaster free this year. But if you want to make sure that you’re prepared for every eventually, do come and talk to us. It’ll be a whole lot cheaper than trying to recover from a data security problem.

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How long do I need to keep my business records?

How long should business records be kept?“How long do I need to keep my business records?” It’s a question we’re asked fairly often – but probably not often enough.

Some people assume they need to hold on to every last scrap of paper like a demented hoarder, and the consequences can be alarming.

Our director once visited a potential client who had records dating back to the Ark stored in the upper rooms of the company’s office.

The weight of these endless files was actually bowing the floor – and, in turn, the ceiling above the heads of the poor employees below, who daren’t venture into the store room for fear of the entire lot collapsing like something from a disaster movie.

As it happens, many records need only be kept for a few years – though there are others that you should hold on to for a lot longer than you might think.

Here are just a few facts for you…

  • COSHH records need to be kept for 40 years (which is the average lifespan of a bare eyed cockatoo, animal lovers)
  • Contractor time sheets should be kept for a year following transfer to your accounting system…. but those required for revenue purposes must legally be kept for six years.
  • Accident books should be kept for six years after the last entry (or Joe Pasquale will hunt you down and break your leg*)
  • Unsuccessful quotations should be kept for one year, but for successful ones it’s only until payment of invoice and audit.

And that’s just a start! Confused? Don’t worry. To make life a little simpler, we’ve compiled this handy guide which should help you figure out what you can bin and what you can’t.

Of course, that’s not the only way we can help. Because once you’ve decided what needs to be filed and what can be scrapped, we can do three things:

  • Document storage – so you don’t have to worry about the ceiling caving in. Our facilities are alarmed, protected and monitored 24/7, giving you complete peace of mind.
  • Document scanning – to create digital records that are much easier to access. We’ll even train you and your staff to use the software to maximum effect.
  • Secure data destruction – because chucking private client records and sensitive financial data in the skip behind the office is a really bad idea.

Give our friendly team a call today to find out how we can help you avoid a storage nightmare.

(*Ok, we made this bit up.)

Schools are back – time for a clear out!

September Office Clear Out neededListen! Can you hear that? Yes, that empty, echoey sound. Don’t recognise it, do you? Allow us to remind you – it’s called silence, something that for parents has been sorely lacking over the last few weeks. Now the kids are back at school, life can get back to normal. Well, after the chaos has been cleared anyway.

Spring may be the traditional time for a clear out, but we think September is a much more sensible option. After all, you’ve undoubtedly got either a wrecked house to put back together or an office that’s been rather neglected since that final school bell rang way, waaaaay back in July. Having a back-to-school / back-to-work clear out is pretty therapeutic (honest) and will at the very least help you delay the start of actual work for a day or two.

So, how can we help? Well, one thing we offer here at Scan Film or Store is the gift of space i.e. document scanning. We can scan anything from photos to receipts, old bank statements to the kids’ first pre-school drawings, archived employee records to… well, you get the picture. Anything that’s currently clogging up dusty shelves, filing cabinets or quite possibly whole rooms where no one dares to venture.

Here’s the science bit:

  • We use top quality Bell & Howell, Kodak and Fujitsu document scanning equipment and are ISO 9001 certified, so you’ll always get accurate, high-quality results.
  • We can output digital images in .pdf, pdf/a, .tif or .jpg format, in colour, greyscale or black and white.
  • We also offer a full indexing service and optical character recognition (OCR) of .pdf documents, creating ‘digital filing cabinets’ and readable, searchable documents.

Pretty snazzy, right?

There are then three options for the originals. We could give them back to you, although that would rather defeat the object. Instead, option two is that we can store them in our secure, dry and protected premises in Bridgwater or Yeovil. We use an advanced barcode tracking system, logging everything within our auditable document storage system, so they’ll always be easy to find and retrieve.

Or, option three, if you don’t actually need your originals anymore, is that we can destroy them for you. And we don’t mean chuck them in the bin out back – this is high tech stuff, with cross shredding and pulping (the pulp is then recycled, so it’s good for the environment too – bonus). We can also destroy CDs and DVDs, computer hard drives, microfilm and lots of other things, so do add those to you ‘get rid of’ list too.

If you need help decluttering your home or office, give us a ring on 0800 008 7229  or email info@scan-film-store.co.uk and we can talk you through the best options to suit your needs and your budget (the initial chat is free and without obligation, of course). After all, it’ll be Christmas before you know it, so you need to make room for all those presents!

Shredders Grimm – Terrifying Stories of Data Destruction Disasters

Data Destruction DisastersWhen it comes to data or document destruction you may think hitting “delete” or shredding is sufficient to protect your data.

This month we are here to share some terrifying tales of what happened when data destruction went wrong.

Secure data destruction should be a key part of a document management process. All too often businesses leave it to chance and could therefore be just minutes away from featuring in their own horror story about customer data getting into the wrong hands.

So with that in mind, are you sitting comfortably and ready for some real life stories that will keep you awake at night thinking about whether or not you disposed of your data correctly?

Let’s begin…

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How to declutter your office – and boost business efficiency

How to declutter your office - and boost business efficiencyClutter is bad for your business. Seriously – it’s probably costing you money as you read this.

For a start, it takes up space. Assuming that you pay for your premises in some way, unnecessary paperwork is effectively squatting.

Clutter also makes you inefficient. How long do you spend looking for documents you know you filed “sensibly” a couple of months ago but now can’t find?

And it’s stressful, isn’t it? For you and for your staff, who are probably as demoralised by chaos as you are.

If you’re shifting uncomfortably in your seat right now, don’t worry – you’re definitely not alone! But scheduling in a declutter or spring clean soon would be a good idea. After all, it’s the right time of year for it.

“But I need all this paperwork!” you may be saying. And maybe you’re right. But do you need it languishing in flimsy archive boxes or rows of rusty filing cabinets?

Here are three things to ask yourself:

Do I need it at all? If the answer is no, get rid of it. If it’s sensitive, make sure it’s properly destroyed so you don’t run into security issues.

Do I need it on site? A safe and secure storage facility could well be the answer – just make sure it’s one with a good barcoding, cataloguing and retrieval system.

Do I need it in hard copy? If not, scanning it will reduce its physical impact without you losing the content you need.

No one likes spring cleaning, but we all love an uncluttered, efficient workspace. And at least it will be done – until next year, anyway.

If you’d like us to help you assess your business data and how it can be more efficiently stored, expertly scanned or securely destroyed, contact the team on 0800 008 7229 for a no obligation assessment.

How safe is your customer data?

Secure Data Destruction from Scan Film or StoreThere seems to be almost monthly press coverage about a household name having to apologise and reassure its customers that their personal data is safe after a successful hacking attempt on its website or computer systems.

The positive piece in this is that it is raising the general awareness to businesses and consumers of the risks inherent in holding personal information on websites, social media channels and other online systems.

This should ensure that businesses in particular increase their investment in protecting customer data held in this way from this kind of attack.

 

 

What’s often forgotten about with these high profile cases is that there is a significant amount of personal client data held in other formats and on other medium which is also at risk of being accessed or falling into the wrong hands. Personal information held as paper records in filing cabinets or cupboards, on laptops, PCs, phones and other electronic devices as well as external hard drives and memory sticks is all vulnerable and needs to be protected.

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This microfiche will self destruct in 30 seconds!

secure microfiche destructionIn spy novels ensuring top secret information is securely destroyed once no longer in use is easy…. a brief recorded message and then up it goes in smoke!

If only it was that easy to protect unwanted data held on Microfilm and Microfiche from getting into the wrong hands in the real world.

New digital technology provides a more secure alternative to organizations such as banks, hospitals and government bodies for storing sensitive and confidential data but many still hold vast amounts of out of date data on these older media that needs to be securely destroyed.

Incineration will ensure the total destruction of both the microfiche or microfilm and the data held on it however, the intense heat created during the incineration process and pathogens released means that it must be handled by a specialist company such as Scan Film or Store.

Additionally, the sensitive nature of the information held and the obligations on the organizations holding it to comply with data security legislation means that they require a specialist partner to plan and manage the entire process in order to provide the necessary audit trail.

 

It is our expertise in the field of high security data destruction that led to our involvement in the top secret project below:

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