Montana Secretary of State
Main: (406) 444-2034
Business Services: (406) 444-3665

Maximizing Storage Capacity

Do you want to get better at space saving? Then you need to think beyond your filing cabinets. If you truly want to get the most out of your office space within your agency, you need to look beyond equipment and start applying these records management best practices. The reality is that properly managing your records helps your agency cut costs, decrease retrieval times, and reduce the volume of your collections.

This tool takes a look at four records management best practices, and how you can apply them to your everyday operations to reduce your storage footprint.

Skip to Use the State Records Center to Store Your Documents

Skip to Retention Schedules

Skip to Digitizing and Imaging

Skip to Purge Non-Records

Every state agency has records that need to be retained for business and statutory purposes, but many of those records do not need to be accessed on a regular basis. The State Records Warehouse provides a cheaper alternative for storing these kinds of records because we allow you to free up costly office space and still access and keep the documents you are required to.

If you would like to store your documents at the State Records Warehouse, please fill out the transmittal form (RM 2) and RM 11 (arrangement for pickup) and email both forms to [email protected].

Transmittal Instructions

Transmittal Form (RM 2)

RM 11 Instructions

Arrange for your records to be picked up (RM 11)

A good retention schedule is your best friend when it comes to saving space. In fact, an effective records retention program can help you reduce storage costs by one-third. How? Because your schedule details exactly what you need to keep and for how long, you are in a position to control the growth of your records collections. This way you ensure that you aren’t paying to store records you don’t need to keep.

View the current State Agency Records Retention Schedules.

View the current Local Government (City, County) Records Retention Schedules and Information.

Digitizing and imaging your documents is a great way to save space and cut storage costs because you can often destroy the originals or store them in an off-site facility. Best of all, the imaged and indexed documents are instantly available to staff across your agency and can be quickly and easily accessed when needed.

Document imaging is the conversion of paper source documents to digital source documents, or you can also transfer your electronic images to microfilm.  It includes the scanning portion of the process and also the indexing components so that imaged documents can be retrieved, displayed, printed, etc.

Per ARM 44.14.101, agencies may rely on digital records for their official record(s), so long as a Records Retention Schedule and digital migration plan are completed and approved by the State Records Committee.  The benefits of having records digitally stored and electronically available, or placed on microfilm, must be weighed against other business and information technology requirements, such as retention periods, storage capacities and costs, migration requirements, application obsolescence, litigation holds, open government and etc.

Many records have a retention period beyond a few years. Security and preservation requirements need to be identified and addressed in order to ensure records can be made available through an agency’s attention to refreshment cycles and technology changes, which normally occur about every four years.  Technology change considerations include software versions, replacement or changes in operating systems, hardware device changes, portable or hosted storage, etc.

Microfilm continues to be the most universally accepted archival format, with a life expectancy of 500 years. It provides excellent results for many flat materials including newspapers, manuscripts, and maps. If you have paper or electronic images that you want to transfer to microfilm, we have the solution for you. Please contact Jim Shaw at [email protected] or 406.444.9083

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration has some great information regarding Records Management. The following video offers tips on getting your electronic files organized. Included are some common sense methods that are simple to follow and create in your agency. This session also covers filing and naming conventions that will help you manage electronic records in your agency’s directory structure.

Non-records or Non-Current Records such as duplicates and outdated drafts are a result of day-to-day business functions and take up valuable storage space. The key is to purge these documents and files in a systematic way that takes records management principles into account.

We hope that this tool was helpful. If you need further assistance, please email us at [email protected] or call 444-9000.

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