Transitioning a collection of records from one vendor to another can appear to be a complicated and stressful task. Access has coordinated and performed the transition of hundreds of thousands of boxes of records and continues to do so as a regular practice. We’ve developed a few key steps that should always be followed when you are moving your records from one vendor to another.
Step One – Selecting your new vendor
When selecting a new vendor there are obvious factors to consider such as price, security and service levels. As part of your due diligence, ask the vendor for their documented transition plan and also find out how many clients and cubic feet they have transferred from other vendors. I would also suggest speaking to clients of the vendor you are considering. One area often overlooked is selecting a vendor that can meet all your needs and 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 their answer to these questions is “No” you might be looking at the wrong vendor.
Step Two – Preparing to leave your existing vendor
When moving to a new records management provider, take the time to review your existing contract ahead of time. Watch out for auto-renewals and find out how much notification you are required to give your current vendor. Notify your current vendor in writing that you plan to terminate your agreement. Ask for total cost of closing your account and moving it to a new vendor. This is an important step because your new vendor will likely cover some of your account closing costs. You’ll want to request a detailed inventory in Excel, Access or some common file format. Your new vendor will need this to confirm that all records actually transferred. You should communicate your expectations for how long the transfer should take and establish a targeted completion date, which your new vendor should help determine. This 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 starts.
Step Three – Letting your new vendor manage the transfer
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 assigned a point person or Project Manager to coordinate the transfer. The Project Manager will coordinate communication, logistics and the transfer of data. The client can decide how involved they would like to be in the transfer, although most request weekly updates until it is complete. The updates should confirm if the transfer is on schedule and let you know the accuracy of the records transferred. Upon completion, your new vendor should provide a detailed inventory and identify any unresolved discrepancies that you’ll need to resolve with the previous vendor. Your new vendor should have provided some sort of inventory management and reporting tool (hopefully web-based with security access levels), which you can use to review your data. Your new vendor should have also provided a customer handbook or some document that outlines the best way to interact with them.
Now that all the steps have been successfully completed, you’re ready to start doing business with your new vendor.