Microfiche destruction: killing tiny fish, and other things it’s not

Microfiche - a small fish?Okay we admit it, we really like destroying things. Obliterating them from the face of the planet. Documents, data, DVDs, hard drives, microfilm, microfiche. There’s never been a moment we haven’t enjoyed annihilating what’s been handed to us. But before you get the wrong end of the proverbial stick, we should clarify exactly what we mean – and, for the purpose of this blog, what we don’t mean – when we say microfiche destruction.

Not: Destroying tiny fish

Even if we wanted to go on a sea critter killing spree on behalf of a client, we’d struggle to catch them, if we could find them at all. The world’s smallest fish, the paedocypris progenetica can be hard to see, even if it’s in the palm of your hand. Not really one to oven bake in tin foil and serve with a lemon. Unless you are a miniature ‘Who’ person from Dr Seuess’s Whoville, in which case you’d be in for a feast.

Not: Getting even with Michael Fish

If you remember Britain in 1987, you might still hold a vendetta against the naysaying weather forecaster, but we won’t assassinate him for you. Revenge won’t give you peace. Fun fact: the weather forecaster has on several occasions opened aquariums as a celebrity-with-the-scissors. In Hunstanton he was heard to say, “This is my o-fishal opening of this shrimply gorgeous plaice.” While he should probably be prevented from making puns again, destroy him we shall not. If you are concerned by our apparent need to explain away the idea that we are trained killers, you shouldn’t worry, we don’t get assassins in this country. 

Not: Destroying an outdated archive method

Mirco-what-now? If you’re on the younger side of the spectrum you may be tempted to think that microfiche is a dead method of archiving documents. But you’d be missing out. 

So what is microfiche and microfiche destruction?

Microfiche is a tiny sheet of flat film that is covered in a matrix of micro images. For storing hard copy versions of valuable magazines or important documents, there is no more efficient method. We can convert your documents to microfiche, indexing them and creating an archiving solution. So why might you want to do that instead?

While there is a benefit in switching to digital (we do have our head in the Cloud too, and can convert your documents to digital if you prefer), there is sometimes a greater benefit in sticking with microfiche. For a start, most digital forms of storage have existed for little more than a decade – and might not last forever. Whereas, microfiche is guaranteed to last for five-hundred years. Unless of course, you give it to us to destroy, in which case we’ll incinerate it gladly. If you are looking for microfiche destruction services, get in contact and we’ll give you a free quote.

Alternatives to professional electronic data destruction (and why they might not work)

Scan Film or Store - Alternatives to professional electronic data destruction (and why they might not work)It can seem appealing to erase your own digital footprints. It’s the cartoon pleasure of sweeping a brush behind you as you walk, stopping the bad guys from following you. DIY alternatives to professional e-data destruction can seem a simple way to cut costs, but it’s more likely to lead to a breach of security. Here’s some DIY electronic data destruction methods and why we don’t recommend them:

Emptying the bins

Emptying your digital recycling bin may seem like you are erasing data from existence but it’s more like hiding it behind a false mirror. Your operating system can no longer find the information, but it can be readily recovered using file recovery software. So it’s only worth relying on emptying your recycling bin if it contains nothing more precious than embarrassing photos of your office Christmas party. 

Reformatting

Once upon a time, reformatting was considered the way to flush your old data down a black hole. But yesterday’s black hole is today’s open handbag. Reformatting is still a useful tool for repurposing, say, a home laptop so you can hand it down to a family member. But any sensitive data would be quickly retrievable with software you can download for free on the internet.

Data wiping

Sounds promising. With a name like data wiping you’d expect it to leave no trace. The process even allows you to go on using the hard drive afterwards, saving costs. But it is time consuming and most importantly, it’s fallible. Any data that is invisible to the host system is invisible to the data wiping software and will still be recoverable. Plus, if there’s any malicious code involved, the wiping process can be compromised. In other words, there’s all kinds of things that can go pear-shaped.

Hitting it with a sledgehammer

Everyone enjoys smashing things (especially if you’re the big green alter ego of an otherwise docile doctor). But while taking a sledgehammer to a hard drive is a more secure method of destruction than the previous options, it is not enough to prevent a skilled person from extracting the data with the right equipment. You may enjoy the smash the hard drive makes, but you’d also be taking a hammer to any guarantee of security. Maybe break up an old sofa instead.

Degaussing

Using a very strong electro-magnetic current does give results. So good are the results, in fact, that we do it ourselves. There are limits, however, as a degaussed hard drive looks exactly the same as an ordinary one. Quite frankly, it’s not worth trying it yourself and having any mix ups with serious sensitive data. That’s why when we handle the process with meticulous precision, recording the serial number, security-sealing already secure crates to move them. Then after degaussing (wiping data using an electromagnetic current), we shred the hard drive into miniscule metal chips that couldn’t be put back together by anything on earth. We even recycle the scrap metal, so it’s kinder to the environment too.

Having DIY skills is an admirable quality. But what no auditor wants to hear is ‘I destroyed the data myself,’ because that translates as ‘I attempted to destroy the data and I can’t prove that I did.’ Sadly, there isn’t a kind of data destruction kit that can provide you with all the necessary materials for secure data destruction.

But you do have us! And we’re lovely and we know what we are doing. We’ll even give you a Certificate of Destruction for your auditors and they will be most pleased. Get in touch with us for a free, fast and highly competitive quote.

Microfilm destruction: can I do it at home?

Match destroying data - scan film or storeWe know what you’re thinking: microfilm destruction sounds like so much fun – can’t I have a go? But just as re-enacting World Wrestling Entertainment can lead to more broken bones than imitators expect, microfilm destruction too is something you should not try at home.

But I have a shredder!

We get it. Shredding is fun. Unfortunately because of their size, shredded microfilm images can still be read. So it really is just a waste of shredding energy that could be better invested in heavy metal guitar solos. Side note: standard issue shredders aren’t a secure way of destroying any kind of data – almost anything can still be pieced together and read afterwards – we, however, undertake to destroy it properly.

Microfilm, microfiche and aperture cards are designed to last for 500 years. You know, just in case you still need it in five centuries. Just as the power of One Ring could only be undone by the fires of Mount Doom, the mighty microfilm can only be destroyed by professional incineration.

Incineration? I can do that myself right?

I’m afraid that lighter won’t do much good. The same goes for a bonfire. You’d even struggle with your own furnace. Microfilm burns at 1,000°C and is highly combustible. So if you do manage to destroy it you might burn down any nearby buildings too. Plus, when it reaches burning point, microfilm releases chemicals that you don’t want to breathe in. Even if you have your own gas mask, there are strict (and necessary) regulations surrounding incineration. In the spirit of Boromir and his many memes: “One does not simply burn microfilm.”

So how come you get to do it?

We’ve got a track record for destruction (don’t we sound cool?) and also for safety, security and professionalism. Our vetted staff will remove your microfilm from its current storage, place it in security sealed and bar-coded bags and securely transport it to the place of incineration. The bags are weighed and scanned to ensure everything is accounted for, then we witness the incineration on your behalf. We know you wanted to see it too, but at least this way you’ll receive a Certificate of Destruction and a Waste Certificate for your audit trail.

Is there anything you can’t do?

We haven’t learned how to turn lead into gold yet, but we’re getting pretty close. Seriously though, it doesn’t matter how much microfilm you throw at us (preferably not literally) we’ll be able to take care of it. Check out our case study of how we oversaw the incineration of 24 tonnes of microfilm, which we had to transport in 1600 bags. Over 4 days, we watched it burn, staggering the process appropriately, so that the chemical fumes could be safely contained.

Can you take the Ring to Mordor?

Um, no. We have to draw a line somewhere. We may add destruction of magical items to our services list at some point but in the meantime, if you have any microfilm, microfiche or aperture cards that need to be shown to the flames, don’t hesitate to call us.

Why secure data destruction is fun (no really)

Destroyed hard drive - Scan Film or Store secure data destruction servicesIf you’re a doubter or a hater, we understand. On the surface of things, secure data destruction can seem unexciting. But (straight-face on) we think it is fun. “Why?” You may legitimately ask. Well, that’s what we’re here to tell you.

We’re professionals in destruction

How many times in life can you say you’re going to destroy something today? Unless your name is Arnold Schwarzenegger or you create machines with CO2-powered axes for Robot Wars. Not only do we get to destroy things for a living – not just paper but microfiche and microfilm, hard drives and backup tapes – we get to hand out Certificates of Destruction to our clients. They’re a lot more interesting than invoices.

It’s serious business

Serious is the polar-opposite of fun, right? Not always. Because the security of data is so essential, the technicians at SFS have signed the Official Secrets Act. Which basically puts us on par with MI5. And the fun doesn’t stop there. We’re talking security-sealed bags, wiping hard-drives with powerful electro-magnetic currents (it’s called degaussing, fact-fans), and saying lines like, “Take it to the incinerator.” Does it sound like the best job in the world yet?

We complete the circle of life

When destroying paper documents, we use a state-of-the-art cross shredder that blitzes everything into confetti then pulps the results. It truly is a celebration worth attending. All data has a death day and we are the gatekeepers who see it off into the great beyond. For paper that great beyond involves becoming tissue paper – it’s like an ironic form of reincarnation. The late documents may become art supplies or a handy cure for a runny nose. It’s a fascinating analogy that you can interpret how you wish.

This is MoD level destruction

Seriously, forget your average office shredder. Our techniques are next level. We can reduce microfiche to powder (try sticking those fragments back together, corporate spies!), shred backup tapes into 20mm or even 6mm scraps, smash up CDs and DVDs into tiny little chips and incinerate pretty much anything (so long as it’s legal – if you’re thinking of bumping someone off, we’re not the company for you). And the best bit is that we can do all of this on site – yes, even the incineration – so none of your top secret data need leave your care for a moment.

We are the digital Marie Kondo

Thanks to the newly-famed Japanese organising guru, the world is discovering that tidying is an opportunity to choose joy. We may not have our own Netflix show yet, but we like to think that we bring joy into people’s lives by reducing the clutter. It’s not just saving people money on storage costs, its creating space for other things in life, like fun. Think of all the things you’ll be able to do with an empty office. It’s satisfying to give that to people. Plus, we digital spring clean whilst humming the tune to “A Spoonful of Sugar.” We’re still waiting on Mary Poppins to show us how to sing it properly though.

We herald the digital age

Just as a rock musician takes pleasure in smashing their guitar on the ground after a concert, we take great pleasure in annihilating the paper, CDs and DVDs of this world. Paper has been an amazing friend to us all. It’s been with us since 100BC and has seen us through many a century, but a couple of millennia is long enough. Likewise, DVDs and CDs were kind to us in the analogue years, but they probably shouldn’t be clogging the archives anymore. Secure Data Destruction is a fitting send off, heralding the digital age in a shower of confetti, a blaze of fire or an electro-magnetic hurrah.

If you need help with secure data destruction of any kind, contact us today for a quote.

Common data breaches and how to prevent them

Scan Film or Store data breach blog postThe world has more information in it than ever before. A lot of it is fairly mundane – train timetables and Pink Floyd lyrics and what Sarah had for lunch on Thursday (thanks so much, Instagram). But there is also a lot of highly sensitive information, ranging from individuals’ address details through to launch codes that could destroy the planet.

Getting hold of this information is something the criminal element apply an awful lot of time and energy to. So we thought we’d look at some common ways you might be targeted – and the relatively simple steps to reduce the risk of being subject to a data breach.

Getting hacked because you haven’t put the necessary cyber protection in place

Antivirus? Check. Secure passwords with numbers and symbols and capital letters? Check. Memo to staff to not click on dodgy links that promise lottery wins and unlikely tax rebates? Check. Um…. next?

Protecting your organisation against a cyber attack is a complex process. We know, because we recently got certification under the Cyber Essentials Scheme and it was a heck of a lot of work proving that we really are as secure as we can be. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean we can help you prevent an internal breach but at least you know that if you entrust us with your data, it will be as safe as it is possible to be.

Leaving a bag of top secret government papers on the train

Yes, we know what you’re going to say – no one would be that stupid! But it’s happened in real life as well as fiction. Many data breaches happen as a result of human error so training is essential, as is putting processes in place that reduce the likelihood of documents falling into the wrong hands. In our case, we’re certified to BS10008:2014 standards, which are the same ones used by police when transporting evidence in a case so they can say for certain that it hasn’t been tampered with.

Having customer information nabbed out of the bins behind the office

Chucking confidential documents in the bin is not a good idea. And shredding them first isn’t good enough to prevent a security breach either. Anyone with decent eyesight and enough patience can piece those strips back together and retrieve the information they need. No, what you want is genuinely secure data destruction. We cross shred all confidential waste into confetti and then, for good measure, pulp it so there’s no chance of anyone reading it again.

Finding out your office cleaner is an international spy

No matter how good your internal checks and measures, if you’re giving any external suppliers access to your data then there’s a potential security issue. A data breach might be deliberate or accidental but the outcome is the same. Which means it’s vital that you know you can trust everyone from the office cleaner to the folks who scan your documents to help you create digital files.

Because of the nature of some of our contracts, we deal with information that is literally of national importance. Which means that not only are all our employees DBS and BS 7858 checked but we’ve also all signed the Official Secrets Act.

Getting held up as you transport documents ready for shredding

If you’ve invested a lot of time, energy and budget in creating a secure environment at your HQ then you’ll naturally be wary of creating the opportunity for a data breach by allowing classified documents off site. What if someone intercepts them? Of course, you might need them scanned or destroyed. In which case the answer is simple: get it done on site.

We’ve mobilised our operations so that if you have a high volume of scanning or destruction we can come to you. We can scan documents up to pretty much any size, cross-shred and pulp paper documents and even chip PC hard drives down to 20mm or 6mm. And you can watch the whole process, if you like that kind of thing.

If you have a concern about your data and you’d like to talk to one of our experts, get in touch today.

Is it time to move office?

Wrapped chairs - office move - scan film or storeWhere do you stand on office moves? Does the thought fill you with excitement and give you an excuse to daydream about the fun new breakout space you’re going to create and the inspirational slogans you could paint artily on the exposed brick walls?

Or does it fill you with pure dread and make you consider firing people so you can stay in the cosy little office you’ve come to think of as home?

Whatever the case, making the decision to up sticks and relocate is one you’ll need to consider carefully. Here are some signs that suggest you might want to consider looking for a new home for your team – and also a few ideas that could help you put that decision off for a while if you need to.

You have to turn sideways to get between desks

And even that isn’t working quite so well since Christmas (we blame the mince pies). If you find you’d rather phone or email your colleague across the room than run the obstacle course that is the office, then perhaps you need a bit more space to spread out.

The alternative: Or how about you just re-arrange the desks? If you’ve been growing organically over the years and just adding new desks as the team expands, you probably don’t have an especially efficient layout. While you’re shifting stuff around, consider getting standing desks. Less chairs = more space. Simples!

You haven’t been into the archive room for months

Not because you haven’t needed to find stuff, it’s just you’re afraid you might cause an avalanche and be discovered only when some other brave soul else ventures in to find the source of that nasty smell. The solution: move to a bigger office with a bigger archive room.

The alternative: You could just have a clear out. Figure out which documents need to be kept as originals and get them stored off site. Scan anything that you don’t need originals of and have those originals securely destroyed. Then use the old archive room to create that break out space! NB: Don’t make your staff do this. You need them to keep doing what they do to earn money. We can help – just call us for a free assessment of your needs.

Everyone always looks mopey on a Monday

Sure we joke about Monday blues but it doesn’t have to be a thing! Creating a positive working environment can give staff morale a huge boost. So if your office is lacking in natural light, if it’s drafty or not very easy to get to or any one of a hundred things that could make it unpleasant to work in, moving could be a very good, well, move.

The alternative: Redecorate! You’re welcome, oh daydreamer. Now’s your chance to get the spray paint and stencils out and slogan up those walls to your heart’s content. Seriously, whatever is making your current office less than enjoyable to be in, fix it. Less expensive and time consuming than a move, right?

There are just too many people to fit

You’re a close team but no one wants to be that close, right? Like close enough to hear your neighbour chewing their cheese and ham sandwich at lunch. That’s the stuff nightmares are made off. If everyone is crammed into a small space, tempers are likely to start fraying and quickly. Moving to a bigger office gives everyone their own little patch where they can work happily and efficiently without wanting to punch anyone for that annoying little sound they make when they’re concentrating.

The alternative: Get rid of a few people. Not by firing them, obviously; that would be a little drastic (and illegal). But could some of your team work from home? If a couple of people got to work from their home office each day, you’d find things less of a squash at your HQ. They’d also be most likely be much happier without the commute, the parking, the need to wear office appropriate clothing etc.

Whether you’re planning to move offices or need help making your current one more space efficient, give our team a call to see how we can help out on the document storage, document scanning or secure data destruction side of things.

Why we’re the perfect match for the engineering, manufacturing, defence and aerospace industries

Heart jigsaw puzzle - perfect matchWe don’t like to play favourites but we do seem to have attracted a lot of clients from the engineering, manufacturing, defence and aerospace industries over the years. And though we also don’t like to sound immodest, we’re not all that surprised. You see, we’re well set up to deal with their particular needs – we’ve got the security, the capacity and the right equipment.

As it’s Valentine’s Day later this week, we thought we’d write up a little dating profile, if you like, to show you we’re the perfect match for someone in the engineering, manufacturing, defence or aerospace industry.

Government approved security

We’re the kind of team who, if we’re going to do something, like to do it properly. So when we say our document storage facilities are secure, we really do mean it. In fact, we’re government approved to hold and process classified documents and data, our premises and procedures have been audited by government security advisers and all digital files are held in a special secure network to protect them from unauthorised access.

We’ve got BS 10008:2014 certification too, which is to do with “evidential weight and legal admissibility of electronic information” – kind of like the standards police have to keep when they transport evidence in criminal investigations. And our staff  have not only been vetted to BS 7858 standards but have actually signed the Official Secrets Act. Let’s face it, we’re practically spies.

Set up for working with you in-house

Of course if that still isn’t secure enough for you, then we can always come to you. Yes that’s right, we can actually up tools and move in with you for a bit, scanning and digitising your documents on your premises so that no data or paperwork ever crosses your boundaries. And remember, our staff are checked and double checked, so you need not worry about letting them past the perimeter fence.

Not your ordinary scanners

We know that if you’re in the engineering, manufacturing, defence or aerospace you haven’t just got a few sheets of A4 that you want to put through the scanner. You’ve got endless technical drawings, blueprints, not to mention procurement documents, personnel records and so on.

We’re set up for high capacity runs and we can scan up to A0 in width and pretty much any length. We’ve even scanned a tonne of 40ft aircraft drawings (although we can’t tell you who for because you don’t have clearance!).

Lots of added extras

So you know that we scan stuff and we store stuff. But that’s not all! We can also extract information from legacy documents and feed it into document management and ERP/MRP systems. We can convert analogue data into digital data and documents into microfilm or microfiche that’s guaranteed for 500 years, creating information backup systems that meet contractual obligations.

And we can securely destroy everything from paper and photographs to digital records and microfilm (which, if you didn’t know, is a really very difficult and dangerous process – microfilm has an extremely high burning point and releases dangerous chemicals so you don’t want to be looking after that yourself).

What our engineers, manufacturers, defence and aerospace clients say

Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what the procurement manager of a large West Country aerospace firm had to say about using our services:

“As one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in Europe we rely on fast, accurate access to our archive records – particularly build records and data sheets. We have used Scan Film or Store Ltd since it was established and they have always provided us with a first class service, Their prompt attention to our changing needs – from microfilm to digital scanning and document storage – has been impressive. I would recommend Scan Film or Store Ltd to any organisation that has complex or varied needs for cost-effective document management.” Ian Mitchell MCIPS, Procurement Manager

So what do you think? Ready to swipe right? (That’s a Tinder reference, by the way. Which is a dating app. Where you… never mind, it’s not that interesting). Anyway, if you think we’d be a good match for you, get in touch with the team today and we can arrange a first date!

Document storage and scanning – your FAQs answered

Document scanning and storage - your FAQs answeredDocument storage and scanning is our bread and butter, so it’s sometimes easy to forget that not everyone knows the ins and outs of it like we do. From technical jargon to the processes, we’ve got so used to it being second nature, we sometimes forget that not everything is quite as obvious to the rest of the world!

There are a few questions we get asked time and again. So we thought it would be helpful to pull them all together and answer them in a single FAQs blog post. It might seem altruistic but frankly it will save us an awful lot of time repeating ourselves!

Do I need to provide my own storage boxes?

Nope, we’ve got that covered. We’ll provide high quality boxes that won’t fall apart or weather, bring them along and even pack up all your stuff for you so you don’t have to lift a finger. We’ll also barcode the boxes so they’re easy to find in the warehouse and we can get the right file back to you whenever you need it.

How easily can I access the documents I’ve stored?

Because of the way we barcode the boxes we store, it’s super easy for us to find them at pretty much a moment’s notice. Then it’s just a case of couriering them to you wherever you are in the country, whether Bridgewater, Bristol or beyond. Or we could scan them and you can either use them in their electronic format or print them out at your end. We’re nothing if not flexible.

What security measures do you have in place to protect classified documents?

Glad you asked! We have all sorts of things in place. For a start, our purpose built storage HQ in Bridgwater is environmentally controlled, monitored and alarmed 24-7. We’ve got ISO 9001:2015 and BS10008 compliance, which means we can ensure the integrity of files from the point of collection to the point of return (kind of like when the police transport evidence). And all of our staff are DBS checked, security vetted to BS7858 standards and have signed the Official Secrets Act. We’ve even got Cyber Essentials Scheme certification! We’re basically the James Bonds of the document storage and scanning world.

Can you scan colour documents?

Sure thing – colour, greyscale or monotone (black & white to you) single or double sided. We’ll manually take out any paperclips and staples too, adding separator sheets between documents so the scanner can distinguish where one finishes and another starts. We’ll even separate any post it notes out and scan them on separate sheets of paper so you don’t end up with missing information in your digital archive.

How do you organise scanned documents so we can find everything?

We don’t like to boast but we’re really rather good at creating digital filing systems. Our scanning services include a full indexing service as well as optical character recognition (OCR) for .pdf documents, creating digital filing cabinets full of readable, searchable documents. We usually start by taking a sample of your documents and scanning those so you can get a feel for how it’s going to work – we won’t charge you for this bit, so there’s no risk. Then we’ll not only create a logical and ordered system but we’ll even train up your staff so they can use it quickly and easily.

What kind of digital files does your scanning process output?

We can produce .pdf, .pdf/a, .tif or .jpg files depending on your needs. And if you don’t know what you need, you can either have a read of this blog post on Do you know your PDF from your TIFF? or give us a call and we’ll talk you through it.

What happens to my hard copies after they’ve been scanned?

It’s up to you. We can return them to you, store them here at our purpose-built HQ in Bridgwater or we can securely destroy them. Either way we offer 30 days free storage so that you’ve got time to check through your new digital files before making any decisions.

How long do I need to keep my files for?

That’s not a question we can answer succinctly. But we have written a whole other blog post on it. Have a read of Paperwork – what to keep and what to chuck.

Why can’t I use a shredder to destroy my confidential documents?

You can. It’s just that if someone has the time and inclination they can sit down and piece the strips of shredded document together. And if we’re talking microfiche or microfilm then it’s even worse because the images they contain are so very small that they might only get chopped in half by a standard shredder. We use cross shredding to destroy paper documents and then pulp the results so that no one, not even the most cunning super villain, could extract the data from it. And we incinerate microfiche and microfilm in a specially ventilated, crazily hot incinerator (seriously, it burns at a really high temperature so you do not want to try this at home).

Can I scan old, delicate or oversized items?

You can with us. We’ve got a pretty exciting range of tech on hand to help us tackle the most specialist of jobs. For example, we have a Book Eye Pro 4 scanner which means books don’t have to be taken apart to be scanned. They don’t even have to be laid entirely flat, so the spine is protected (and the software takes out what we lovingly refer to as the ‘buttock crease’, which is useful too). And then there’s the Canon OCE large format scanner, which scans up to A0 in width and basically as long as you like. We’ve done aircraft drawings that were 40ft long! Basically we love a challenge. So, if you have an awkward item that needs scanning then let us know and we’ll do our best to help.

Have you got any other questions that we’ve not answered here? Send them over to us at info@scan-film-store.co.uk and we’ll update this post with new questions and answers so everyone can benefit.

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.

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