Records management, also known as records and information management, is an organizational function devoted to the management of information in an organization throughout its life cycle, from the time of creation or inscription to its eventual disposition. This includes identifying, classifying, storing, securing, retrieving, tracking and destroying or permanently preserving records.Wikipedia - Records Management
Business documents only have value if they are readily accessible. Having them in an easy to access location and good management system is the first step in Records Management. When planning a storage location you need to take in account the containers used to store the documents, the environment they will be stored in and the security requirements for your documents when your premises is unattended. These all add up to a cost in both time and money that a lot of organisations don't take into account.
Consideration must be given to the location and accessibility of documentation. You need to be able to easily find and retrieve documents in a timely manner and ensure staff are not at risk of injuring themselves. Future storage requirements are also a factor, many organisations are creating more paperwork each year therefore planned storage space may run out quicker than anticipated. This can lead to documents being stored improperly and at risk of loss. There is also the cost for any additional storage space you may require which could result in paperwork being stored in multiple places making it even harder to located a specific file.
Ensuring that your documents are stored in the right environment will safeguard their longevity and help prevent any loss to older records. Not only does the air quality play an important role, preventing mould and degradation but pest control is also important. Insects such and cockroaches and silverfish, and pests such as rats and mice also use paper as both food and bedding, rendering documents valueless.
The last thing to consider is disasters such as flooding from weather, burst pipes or fire. These are unfortunate events that are rarely thought of but such an event could provide problems for your organisation. Having a good disaster recovery plan for your documents always needs to be taken into consideration for any storage planning.
Most documentation is of a sensitive nature, and as such should not be viewed or accessed by unauthorised people. Theft of documentation isn't only when someone takes a document away, but also can be from someone viewing or making a copy. Lack of good security for archived documents can leave any organisation vulnerable.
These factors all add up to the cost of storing documents. The space required to store documents is often valuable commercial space that could be put to more efficient use, or the monetary cost of hiring a shipping container or storage shed. When these spaces run out of room many organisations don't have plans in place or the budget to expand this storage space. The cost of staff in both time, and should the worst happen, injury is not considered when planning storage. Without a good management system and well organised space it could take a lot longer than planned to find that important document. The loss of a document through poor storage of theft could leave a business open to fines and other monetary damages if the document can't be produced in a timely manner and readable condition.