Transitioning to a New Records Management Vendor

By:  Andy Koval VP, Co-founder & Executive Vice President, Archive Systems

Mr. Koval has been involved in the records management industry for over 20 years. An active member of ARMA and PRISM, he has presented at numerous conferences about the direction the industry needs to take to be successful and more efficient.

Executive Summary

Transitioning records from one vendor to another can appear to be a complicated and stressful task, but it doesn’t have to be.  Following a few key steps, such as documenting a transition plan and assigning a dedicated project manager, can alleviate some of the stress of records conversion.

Step One – Identify and Communicate Expectations

When considering a transition, identify a vendor that can meet your needs and can grow with your organization. Does the vendor offer a full suite of services such as document destruction, document imaging and backup tape rotations? Do they have a technology roadmap and can they assist you in reducing your dependence on paper records? If the answer to any of these questions is “No” you might be assessing the wrong vendor. A good practice once your expectations have been satisfied, is to request references and speak to clients of the vendor you are considering, to gain a more qualitative analysis of vendor fit.

Step Two – Document Transition Plan

Once you have identified your new records management vendor, notify your current vendor in writing that you plan to terminate the agreement. Ask for the total cost for closing and moving your account to another vendor. This is an important step because your new vendor will likely cover some of your closing costs.  Ask the new vendor for a documented transition plan. You’ll want to request a detailed inventory in Excel, Access, or some common file format. This is used to confirm record transfer. Communicate your expectations for how long the transfer should take and establish a targeted completion date, which your new vendor should help determine. The completion date will vary depending on the amount of cubic feet you have and where your records are located. For example, are they all in one facility or spread over multiple locations? Three tractor trailer loads or 3,800 cubic of records per week is a reasonable request. After you have addressed all of these items, you’ll need to pay the account closing invoice before the transfer begins.

Step Three – Transfer Management, Assigning a Project Manager

After all steps have been taken to terminate your existing contract, it’s time to introduce your new vendor to the previous one. Your new vendor should have an assigned Project Manager to coordinate the transfer. The Project Manager will coordinate communication, logistics, and the transfer of data. You can decide how involved you would like to be in the transfer, however weekly updates are recommended until transition is complete. These updates should confirm the transfer is on schedule and provide accuracy of the records transferred. Upon completion, your new vendor should: 

  • provide a detailed inventory
  • identify any unresolved discrepancies
  • have an inventory management and reporting tool
  • deliver a customer handbook

It’s important to note, before the transition is complete as a result of the detailed inventory report you’ll need to resolve any unresolved discrepancies with your previous vendor, if necessary.  A customer handbook that outlines the best way to interact is a great way to develop a good working relationship as well as answer any basic questions.

Now that all the steps have been successfully completed you should have the ability to review and access your data, (preferably with a web-based tool with security access levels.) You’re now ready to start doing business with your new vendor.

Archive Systems offers a full range of services and solutions to manage physical and digital records from a single source. Archive Systems has coordinated and performed the transition of hundreds of thousands of boxes of records and continues to do so as a regular practice.

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