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Strategic storage

Jun 13, 2024 | Public | 0 comments

Steve Harding from Business Moves Group shares advice on why, when and how to utilise storage, and best practice to ensure that storage is a strategic investment

When downsizing or relocating, the decision of what to retain, what to recycle, refurbish, donate or dispose of are important decisions. This includes office furniture, fittings, furnishings and IT equipment. The best option is to create a detailed asset list. This should list every single item in the workplace as well as its condition, especially important before an item goes into storage.

An asset list should be digital, easily accessible for stakeholders and amended to reflect circumstantial changes. Record and retain detailed information that may be useful throughout the life of an asset and beyond. This includes serial numbers, asset numbers, dates of manufacture and even warranties. Capturing such detail enables facilities managers and procurement teams to manage the entire estate and its contents more effectively and efficiently.

Deciding what to store will differ. Key considerations include the cost of storage, the depreciation asset values, how long you expect to leave an item in storage, and the cost of a new item if you didn’t keep the old one and need to re-purchase in the future.

It may seem more economic or tempting to store items in the workplace, perhaps in a spare office, a basement or allocated storage space, but this has its drawbacks. Office estates are considerably more expensive per square metre than warehouses – up to seven times more in central London and four or five times more in the Midlands and Manchester regions.

Where a company has multiple locations and management teams, we often see furniture and other equipment being managed in silos, rather than being viewed as a flexible asset that can be utilised across an entire real estate network. This narrow approach leads to new items being purchased because someone didn’t realise they were being stored. Items can also degrade, be prone to damage and linked components lost if not stored properly.

STORAGE PARTNER

If you use a storage partner, they should do much more than simply warehouse your furniture and equipment. They should advise you on your storage options, monitor asset conditions and the dwell time each individual item has spent in storage.

They should proactively alert their client to review their stock holding, asset condition and churn rates throughout the contracted storage period and prompt the creation of an exit plan when the agreed storage time is coming to an end.

The process of controlling assets and inventory starts at the point of data capture. We directly link our survey data capture with our site inventory controls, effectively making the customer’s site an extension of our warehousing portfolio. This means that each movement of assets and inventory are monitored and controlled on a single, audited system that not only improves visibility, but delivers robust and productive management of goods from movement from a customer’s building to receipt at our warehouse locations.

The rate and value of depreciation needs to be considered and factored into the period over which an asset is to be stored; storing something for so long that you pay more in storage than the value of the item(s) would be uneconomic. Set target dates, drive continual review of assets and encourage decision making based on data analysis. As the asset moves towards end of life or the contracted storage period approaches, determine whether it is right to continue with storage or seek best alternative options such as re-use, recycle or donate.

SECURE STORAGE

Security and insurance become more critical if you are storing high value items, valuable or sensitive documents or equipment that holds commercial or personal data. Your partner’s systems and procedures should have the capability to flag particular items under their control and if necessary, hold or demonstrate appropriate management procedures that safeguard items, codes or access.

If your partner is storing items for you that are critical for a business continuity or disaster recovery plan, then ensuring 24/7 access and robust procedures are essential. These details are easily missed if certain stakeholders are not involved in the storage procurement process.

Look for a partner with a gated facility, CCTV, and accredited alarm systems. Some may also have physical security. Consider whether it is appropriate to hold all your inventory in a single location, especially if there are high value, sensitive or unique items that may incur a higher degree of risk management. If we have a client with multiple high value containers, we distribute them across the warehouse and position them in areas of prime visibility to further reduce risk. Make sure your partner of choice is insured, compliant, has robust systems and procedures. We also suggest that you request a condition report before assets and inventory are passed into storage.

Storage can sometimes be perceived as an unnecessary cost and might often be an afterthought for many companies, but it needs to be treated as a strategic decision. Failure to do so could lead to wasted financial resources and a cluttered inventory. Get it right and you’ll be in total control over your assets.

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