Finding the right vendor for off-site storage looks different for every organization, but making an educated decision starts with gathering information from prospects. PRISM International, the not-for-profit trade association for the information management industry released some guidelines to assist companies in doing their due diligence to find the best vendor for their company. We have posted an abbreviated version of their questionnaire as reference for your off-site storage search.
- Get to know the company.
Compile a company profile including the company’s mission, length of time in the industry, key distinguishers, references, and association memberships. Evaluate the vendor by comparing this profile to your organization’s needs and goals.
- Ensure your information will be safe.
Start by asking about general safety procedures and use the following as a checklist to evaluate whether the company is a secure off-site storage vendor:
- 24-hour monitored security
- Authorized access to the facility
- In-house security training and procedures
- Monitored vault entry
- Secure loading and unloading area
- Does the company conduct a daily security check?
- Are security systems inspected and tested regularly?
- If your organization has a specific security requirement verify that their authorization procedures meet your requirements
- Verify disaster prevention efforts.
Evaluate the vendor’s disaster prevention abilities by asking about smoke and fire detection systems and fire suppression systems. Ask if these systems are regularly inspected. Seasoned vendors should also be able to provide an internal disaster prevention plan, proving their commitment to protecting and securing client’s information.
- Tour the facility.
An even better way to evaluate a records storage vendor is to see the facility in person. Consider the following when you take a tour of the vendor’s facility:
- Is the facility stand-alone or located in a multi-tenant building?
- Are there other businesses near this facility that could be potentially hazardous?
- Is the facility located in a non-flood prone area?
- Is the facility built to code and other construction standards?
- Does the facility have backup power systems?
- Does the vendor have proper insurance coverage in the event of a disaster?
- Does the vendor engage in any other business at its facilities (moving and storage, public warehousing, etc.)?
- Ask about the courier service
Just as important as the facility, the couriers that handle pick-ups and deliveries of your documents should employ the necessary safety and security precautions. Ask the potential vendor about the following measures of security for courier vehicles:
- Are vehicles climate controlled, equipped with two way communication, and safety equipment?
- Are vehicles secured while at a delivery/pick-up sites?
- Do vehicles undergo preventative maintenance and operated by trained staff?
- Evaluate policies and procedures.
While evaluating the vendor, examine and compare policies and procedures to find the best fit for your organization. Some policies to consider:
- Is the business contract clear and acceptable?
- Are pickup and delivery records maintained for future reference?
- Does the company have a comprehensive employee screening and training process?
- Are there after-hours personnel trained to handle client emergencies/requests?
- Select the right services for your organization.
Ensure that the off-site record storage vendor can meet all of the service needs your organization presents. Often, records storage facilities provide an array of services, some of which include:
- Sensitive media storage including audio and video tapes, computer media, X-Rays and Micrographics
- Hard copy record storage
- Valuable items storage
- Climate-controlled archives storage
Additional storage questions to consider:
- Does the vendor have adequate space to meet your organization’s current and future needs?
- Are there acceptable temperature and humidity controls for hardcopy records?
- Do the specifications of the vendor’s media vault meet your organization’s needs?
- Is the racking and shelving specifically designed for information management?
- Ask about additional services.
Here is a list of additional services your selected vendor may provide that could add significant value and efficiency to areas of your to your records management program:
- 24-hour customer access
- E-mail transmission
- Emergency pick-up and delivery
- Fax transmission
- Remote (online) access
- Retrieval and re-file services
- Courier service
- Media transfer cases
Tracking and Reporting
- Barcode tracking
- Computer reports available
- Client procedures and/or training
- Index and inventory services
- Storage container sales
- Information management software
- Departmental billing
- Client review rooms
- Confidential destruction services of hard copy and media
- Retention schedule monitoring
- Document Imaging
- Microfilming/Imaging services
- Facility management/Outsourcing services
- Contingency planning
- Information management consulting
- Disaster recovery services