An interview with Gerard Francis from Expense Reduction Analysts.

Based out of Melbourne, Gerard is a strategically and operationally experienced business leader, driven to achieve results. He has a successful track record of enterprise management and enabling businesses to sustain, grow and maximise profitability through outstanding commercial and cost management competencies.

Throughout an executive and financial career within several industries in the tin can and plastics packaging, print marketing, and information management, Gerard leverages the experience, insights and contemporary management principles developed through his career to help businesses of all sizes and industries.


How have the latest privacy laws impacted storage and destruction of records?

Records storage and destruction policy based on the latest privacy and statutory laws have increased, and organisations are required to progressively comply with rigour. Document destruction also helps to keep costs down, and it is essential that the right supplier is engaged for the same (storage as well as destruction).

Records destruction cannot be taken lightly or treated the same way as the destruction of recycled paper. Breaches can end up costing organisations dearly.

Consumers must ensure the company they engage has a specified destruction protocol, and a documented and a fail-proof chain of custody – this means that the supplier may not pass documents on to a third party for destruction, which is quite rampant in the industry. There is a risk of privacy laws being breached in these circumstances.


Is there a competitive market in records management and destruction?

Yes and no, when compared to other industries like retail and many other services, but within the few players available there is the opportunity for savings based on the time at which companies have entered into contracts.

In the destruction space, there are many suppliers with different capabilities, but not all are safe and should rigorously be audited for security, safe custody and destruction of information.


Can you tell me a bit more about contracts in the records management industry?

The nature of the contracts is largely driven by statutory requirements and specific needs that vary from industry to industry. Examples of verticals are medical, financial and legal, with different statutory requirements for physical storage. Financial industries require a minimum of 7 years for records to be kept. Others could sometimes require them for life.

This requirement leads many consumers to contract based on these requirements along with commercial realities. This could be detrimental to them because commercial relevance changes with the dynamics of how the supply market moves impacted by technology, privacy and statutory requirements, and pricing becomes a function of these changes.

It is always prudent for an organisation to make checks on the status of their contracts and how it compares with what the market has to offer at any given point in time. This exercise most often delivers price point movements and opportunities to optimise and consequently bring savings.


Has the market changed in recent years?

The market is changing steadily from paper to digital (online servers) but is still growing at approximately from 4-6% in mature markets. Where possible, organisations must begin the transition from paper to digital. However, this is not suitable for everyone – as mentioned previously, some industries require ongoing physical storage.

The other aspect to consider carefully is the cost of digitisation. The scanning process may be very costly and time-consuming as compared to the storage costs, and the balance between ongoing storage and scanning should be considered.

If there is a high level of activity around documents, then they should be scanned and stored digitally for easier and cheaper accessibility.


Where are the opportunities for savings or optimising purchases of records management?

Savings come from scale and the correct storage solutions for various mediums and the activity associated with the products – storage, retrieval, re-lodgement and destruction.

The market is changing for information storage needs, and the available platforms are changing too. Reliance on paper is decreasing at an increasing rate. Nevertheless, the growth of information based on paper and other media is still considerable. Given the relative plateauing of the market and understanding available options depending on an organisation’s needs, it is critical to assess and obtain the correct pricing of the service.

Where long-term storage is a requirement, and organisations are statutorily tied down with huge amounts of paper, (traditionally in verticals such as insurance, finance, legal, health, aged care, wealth management and government industries), the transition to digitisation cannot be ignored and whilst still in its early days, the right balance in storage strategy must be crafted.


What are the latest innovations or developments which would enable companies to reduce costs?

The major developments are digitisation which can impact costs.


Why do consumers need Expense Reduction Analysts to help manage their costs in this area?

As a consultant with Expense Reduction Analysts coming out of this industry, I would suggest that however small a spend in the category (even when as low as $50K), with the knowledge of the industry (such as strengths and weaknesses of each supplier) and Expense Reduction Analysts’ commercial and analytical strength, we are better placed to optimise prices for our clients more than any internal effort. We achieve significant savings for our clients in this space.