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Every business has initiatives and programs in place designed to add value, either directly to the bottom line or toward reaching the organization's goals. A records management program is one initiative that many organizations use to manage information so that it is timely, accurate, cost-effective, accessible and useable. This type of program will also increase efficiency by giving employees easier and quicker access to records, allowing them to devote less time to the disposal of unneeded records. In addition to increased efficiency, a records management program also reduces liability by proactively protecting documents throughout their entire life cycle, which includes four stages: creation, distribution, storage/preservation and disposition. The question many businesses face is what to do with a document that has reached the end of its life cycle.

When a record’s retention period expires, it is important to dispose of it securely as data leaks pose huge liabilities to businesses. According to the Ponemon Institute, the average cost per breach in 2011 was $5.5 million. You must decide whether to handle the shredding in house or outsourcing it to a third party vendor. Partnering with a secure and compliant document services provider gives you a worry-free solution. A qualified vendor will also equip your team with additional knowledge and resources to implement a secure and compliant document management program — an invaluable tool in increasing record security and reducing operational costs.

Six Benefits of Outsourcing Your Shredding

Shredding on your own may require more time and resources than makes sense for your budget, staff and business model. The list below identifies the most common reasons businesses outsource their shredding programs:

  • Time and cost savings. The average person can shred 23 pages per minute. Even at this rate, it would take your office 66 business days to shred what some professional vendors can in one hour. This labor savings enables your staff members to focus on what they do best while the shredding provider focuses on what it does best — shredding and recycling documents in a secure and environmentally-friendly way.
  • Reduced risk. In addition to time and cost, there are also risks associated with managing your own document shredding programs. The biggest risk is ensuring that all confidential and private information is actually shredded. Partnering with a secure shredding provider that is AAA National Association for Information Destruction (NAID)-certified and PCI-DSS compliant reduces your risk for a data breach and ensures privacy, security and compliance. NAID acts as an independent auditor, checking a shredding company’s compliance in 22 critical areas, including employee background checks.
  • Convenience. A provider will place secure shredding containers in accessible and identifiable locations to make it safe and convenient for all employees to properly shred documents that have reached the end of their useful life. The provider should work with you to determine the right number of bins and the frequency they should be serviced. By “right sizing” your program, you can ensure that you are making your new shredding system easy for your employees so all confidential information is securely destroyed.
  • Security. The security of sensitive customer, employee and business information is a requirement and should be a critical part of your document management program to mitigate risks such as identity theft and misuse of sensitive information. It is necessary to safely shred all documents at the end of their life cycle. Although the information is no longer of value to the company, the information on the document could be valuable to an identity thief.
  • Certificate of destruction. Once shredding is complete, a qualified shredding provider will give you a certificate of destruction for a legal audit trail. This also provides you with an extra level of protection and peace of mind that your confidential information has been destroyed.
  • Environmentally friendly. In addition to compliance with regulations, shredding services will recycle your shredded paperwork so that it can be reused and reduce the amount of trees that have to be cut down for future paper.

Selecting a Shredding Vendor

Making the decision to outsource your shredding is only the first step to achieving compliance with privacy regulations. Taking the time to evaluate a shredding vendor will play a key role in reducing your risk and increasing your productivity. Consider the following when researching a third party shredding solution:

  1. Security. The chosen vendor should be certified by the NAID. Your documents can be stolen without ever leaving the building; therefore, you should also verify how the vendor’s shredding containers are secured. All lids should be locked and only be accessible to the vendor.
  2. Insurance. The unexpected and unpredictable can happen, which is why it is import to ask about the shredding vendor’s insurance protection. Although the amount of insurance will vary greatly from company to company, it is better to go with a company that has a large insurance policy for peace of mind if a data breach does occur.
  3. Full service. Think beyond the paper trail and consider other items your business may need destroyed, such as X-ray plates, CDs or hard drives. Consider a full-service vendor that offers solutions for earlier stages in the document lifecycle, such as storage and digital imaging. These other services are important in ensuring your critical company information is organized and protected.
  4. Efficient. Time is an important aspect to take into account. There is always a possibility that the need for document shredding comes up unexpectedly, as a huge volume of paper has been generated which need to be destroyed. It is important to utilize a reliable shredding provider that can handle your large task within a day or two.

Even in today’s digital age, the average U.S. office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The amount of paper in the workplace can make it very difficult to manage the document shredding process. Having a solid plan in place and working with an outsourced document management provider will enable organizations to enjoy the peace of mind of a compliant, secure, records retention and information management program.