Environment Agency

Topics: Records management | Outsourcing Records Management | Free-up office space

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Greater Efficiency With Strong Governance

The Environment Agency saves money and gets better visibility and control of paper archives through consolidation with Iron Mountain

Challenge:

Transition paper records stored off-site to a single records management provider under a best value contract

Solution:

Consolidate records from 18 different agencies to Iron Mountain under the Crown Commercial Service Framework Agreement

Value:

Process standardisation has enabled greater accountability, efficiencies and significant cost reduction

“The scale of the project has been vast, with multiple challenges, but Iron Mountain remained engaged and flexible throughout the whole process.”

-Simon Ayre Records Management Advisor Environment Agency

Client

Established in 1996 to help protect and improve the environment, the Environment Agency (EA) is an executive non-departmental public body. Employing around 10,600 people in offices throughout England, its responsibilities include regulating major industry and waste, conservation and ecology, flood defence, water quality and resource, and the treatment of contaminated land.

Challenge

Maps, flood risk assessments, and business use permits for regulated industries are among specialist EA paper records. HR files, finance records and legal papers add to the tide. For regulatory and legal compliance, as well as good business practice, much of this needs to be retained. Archive files had traditionally been stored off-site under a range of different agreements.

“We had seven regional contracts with different suppliers plus eleven local agreements,” explains Hazel Callaghan, facilities contract support officer. “When the Crown Commercial Service announced a framework agreement with competitive pricing for off-site records management we reviewed our existing arrangements.”

Solution

With Iron Mountain® confirmed as the preferred supplier for off-site document storage and related services under Lot 1 of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) RM1689 framework, the EA opened a dialogue. That led to an agreement to consolidate all archive files with Iron Mountain.

Records management advisor, Simon Ayre, takes up the story: “Consolidating our off-site storage with Iron Mountain as a single supplier helps us standardise our processes. It also provided the opportunity to improve stored items’ metadata and weed out unnecessary inventory.”

“The transition to Iron Mountain delivered an immediate 15 per cent saving on storage costs. The subsequent review of inventory enabled the disposal of 4,800 boxes to date, for a further 13 per cent saving.”

-Hazel Callaghan Facilities Contract Support Officer Environment Agency

Iron Mountain appointed an on-boarding team to work with the EA and help develop a transition plan to consolidate 36,700 boxes of records. This team went on to manage the project interface with existing storage suppliers and engage in regular reviews.

An early challenge was to standardise inventory metadata fields. Once agreed, amends were made to Iron Mountain Connect™, the Iron Mountain online records management portal. “For example, we could modify the names of template record fields to make them more understandable for our people,” says Simon Ayre.

The transition was scheduled supplier-by-supplier over two years to coincide, where possible, with the end of existing commercial agreements. If mandatory information was missing, box owners were contacted and asked to provide the data or give advice on possible disposal. If ownership remained in doubt, boxes were quarantined for further investigation.

“We have a records management network of 550 people with lead co-ordinators in each region,” says Simon Ayre. “Moving to the Iron Mountain central contract allowed us to improve accountability for off-site storage, helping the business retain only what we really need.”

Value

Boxes can be ordered for retrieval and new records sent to store through the Iron Mountain Connect™ portal. Now, rather than having to rely on the central facilities team, Iron Mountain Connect allows designated people in local teams to place their own retrieval orders. This has simplified and accelerated the process.

The financial benefits are substantial. “The transition to Iron Mountain delivered an immediate 15 per cent saving on storage costs,” says Hazel Callaghan. “The subsequent review of inventory enabled the disposal of 4,800 boxes to date, for a further 13 per cent saving.”

Every Wednesday, Iron Mountain provides a collection and delivery service to any one of ninety EA offices that request service. Orders placed before 3.00 p.m. on Tuesday are scheduled for delivered the next day; whereas orders placed after that are delivered the following Wednesday. There is a 24-hour option for more urgent requirements, subject to EA authorisation.

Costs are transparent, with Iron Mountain giving a monthly report of storage charges and inventory movements. Meanwhile, having all off-site storage with a single vendor has standardised records management processes.

“The facilities team can use the Iron Mountain reports to re-charge for storage services through internal transfer charging,” says Hazel Callaghan. “That means even greater accountability.”

Although the transition is nearly complete, Iron Mountain and the EA are having bi-weekly meetings to explore further areas for collaboration.

Simon Ayre sums up: “The scale of the project has been vast, with multiple challenges, but Iron Mountain remained engaged and flexible throughout the whole process. Having a designated on-boarding team and a central point of contact was critical.”