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Outsourcing documents can save space, money

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by Ann Bucy

SBJ Contributing Writer

If the paperwork in your office has taken on a life of its own and you find yourself buried by the onslaught of paper, your company may want to consider outsourcing its document storage, and even document production.

"All companies are generating a tremendous amount of documents," said Dona Elkins, general manager and co-owner of EDCO, a local outsourcing company. "They're generating more because people are living and working longer."

EDCO has a retention schedule that states how long different records are to be kept and how quickly they can be retrieved after being stored.

For example, Elkins said, accounts receivable and accounts payable records should be kept three to five years, but a corporation's business-meeting minutes should be kept indefinitely.

"Our company takes away the problem of having all that paper and knowing what to do with it," Elkins said. "We send in people who can expertly pack it all up and include a data base with it so you know the order your information is stored in."

The documents are all recorded with a high-speed scanner and stored on an optical CD or on microfilm.

An extra copy can then be made for safekeeping in a safety deposit box or elsewhere.

EDCO works nationwide to help businesses manage their medical records and all over the state of Missouri to assist with business records.

"We have 180 employees," Elkins said. "One hundred and fifty of them just handle the documents."

Elkins said she believes the demand for outsourcing is growing. "Businesses are becoming more aware of the assets and liabilities of the papers they're storing."

She added that there are several benefits to outsourcing. "Businesses can tap into our updated equipment without investing in it."

And having records stored with a company like EDCO frees up valuable office space.

Xerox Document Solutions also provides outsourcing services in the document arena. According to Xerox's Outsourcing Institute, based in New York City, there are five reasons why outsourcing makes sense:

Improved business focus. Outsourcing allows companies to focus on broader business issues while having operational details assumed by an outside expert.

Access to extended capabilities. Outsourcing brings extensive resources to bear in meeting the needs of their customers.

Accelerated reengineering benefits. It allows an organization to immediately realize the anticipated benefits of reengineering by having an outside organization take over the process.

Shared risks. When companies outsource, they become more flexible, more dynamic and better able to adapt to change.

Freeing resources for other purposes. Outsourcing permits a company to redirect its resources from non-core activities to those that have greater return in serving customers.

In addition to outsourcing documents, Xerox also offers services in color publishing, imaging, digital file enhancement, language translation, graphic design and technical writing, among other things.

Greg Tigges, owner of the local Xerox sales office, Document Solutions of Springfield, said his feeling is if outsourcing helps your bottom line, then do it.

In addition to providing outsourcing services for others, he outsources certain areas of his responsibility because he believes his time, as well as his employees' time, is better spent doing what they excel in.

"You need outsourcing where you have a bottleneck," he said. "Allowing other people to do the work they do well frees me up to focus on my core business. Why not partner with someone who has the resources and capabilities for what you're trying to do?"

Xerox offers a range of outsourcing services, according to Tigges. Xerox sells digital equipment such as copiers, fax machines and printers that are constantly updated, and it offers the services of personnel who can run these machines, freeing the business' employees to do other things.

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