Records Management In The Age Of Information Overload 5 Tips For Finding What You Need-tonya mitchell

Home / Records Management In The Age Of Information Overload 5 Tips For Finding What You Need-tonya mitchell

I never gave much thought to storage units. Until recently, that is. And now I have to admit that Im a little obsessed with themand their place in a consumptive society. Last month I ac.panied my friend Patricia to Florida for the weekend to help her pack up her storage unit. Patricia had lived in Florida for a short time and left in 1995. But her stuff has been there for the past 15 years. Packing up was an interesting experience (aside from our encounter with the biggest, scariest spider Id ever seen outside of a pet store). We were surrounded by stuff. Patricia repeatedly came across things that shed thought shed discarded years ago. There were also some specific items that shed been searching for that she never found. Upon returning home, I discovered that 10% of American households rent a storage unit. (Did I mention that I am obsessed?) According to the Self Storage Association, Every American could stand all at the same time under the total canopy of self-storage roofing. To put it into greater perspective, for every Starbucks in this country, there are seven storage facilities. As a culture, it seems that we are overwhelmed with stuff. And the sheer volume of stuff that we dont need makes it hard to find the stuff that we do need. Information overload Nowhere is this more evident than in the workplace. Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin says that every 18 months for the last decade, the world has doubled the data it pushes to you. The cumulative effect is astounding: at some point in June, 2001, you were getting twice as much as information as you were in 2000. Thats a lot. In 2003, you were getting four times as much. The exponential increase means that in June, 2010, you were getting 128 times as much information as you were in 2000. Pushing aside the topic of stimulus overload, how do you find what you need when you need it? Cumulative effects of accumulation In many cases, we may not even notice the cumulative effect of information overload on our business processes. It may manifest itself in an inability to answer customer service requests in a timely manner because we just have too many documents to wade through. Maybe turnaround isnt as efficient as that of your .petitors. Its possible that your audits last longer than they should because youre unable to produce documentation on demand. Maybe youre holding on to records longer than you need to, or should. In the same vein, without a means to organize your information, you may be setting yourself up for premature disposal of your records. In a best-case scenario, information overload is a nuisance. But in a worst-case scenario, it can hurt your .panys reputation, lead to .pliance difficulties, and expose your organization to litigation. Finding what you need when you need it A strong records management strategy allows you to find what you need when you need it. In addition to helping you avoid litigation and prolonged audits, a solid records management strategy helps your daily transactions move more efficiently. As unique as your business processes are, there are some standards that are universal when it .es to records management: 1. Digitize your recordsideally at the point of entry into your organization. Making all of your documents and records available electronically is a fundamental step toward better document and records management. An enterprise content management (ECM) system serves as a catalyst for improved efficiency and management. The ability to store everything that you need in a secure repository ensures that there are no more lost, misplaced, or duplicate documents. It also enables further process optimization via workflow and automation. 2. Categorize your documents Getting your documents into your system is the easy part. Finding them when you need them is more of a challenge. And its another area where an ECM system really pays for itself. A categorization strategy is crucial to effective retrieval. Looking back at the situation of Patricia and her storage unit, it would have been easy to find things of value if they had been stored with some sort of organizational plan. Unfortunately, the plan at the time was to cram the big things in first and to shove whatever was left wherever it would fit. It was a strategy, but it wasnt a good strategy. Categorization sounds simple enough, but theres an underlying .plexity. It is important to: * Have a thorough understanding of your business processes in order to categorize effectively * Identify every type of document that .es into your organization and drives your business processes, whether they are forms, faxes, email messages, or something else * Take into consideration each department that uses the information on any given document * Know the metadata associated with each document * Determine the criteria that your staff uses to retrieve documents And what if you get a document type that you hadnt accounted for? Youll need to have a strategy for processing exceptions. 3. Ensure security With the possible exception of a rare Elvis Presley Christmas lp, Patricia didnt use her storage unit to stow anything that was particularly valuable. Aside from the sentimental value that she attached to them, her personal items were not irreplaceable. In a business environment, however, mostif not allof the content that drives your business processes is irreplaceable. Security is a necessity. Every ECM system makes claims of security, but not all systems are created equally. Look for a system that lets you apply permissions to designated groups of users according to department, role, or job function. You should have the ability to limit access of individual files to specific users and groups. You should also be able to limit who is able to view, edit, and delete documents, and control who is able to email certain documents as attachments. On the whole, your system should be flexible, adaptable, and intuitive. Audit logs should enable you to spot evidence of tampering by unauthorized personnel. Finally, consider the value of ease-of-use: if your security system is difficult to use or unwieldy for administrators, you expose your organization to potential breaches. 4. Automate retention/disposition strategies When were clearing physical clutter, often there are societal cues that offer insight as to whether we should dispose of something. Items that are damaged or outdated can be repurposed or discarded. Clothing that no longer fits can be donated. Items that retain value, on the other handanything from jewelry and wedding pictures to passports and birth certificatesshould be kept somewhere safe. Managing your business records is often less subjective. Records have a life span. Its imperative that they are not destroyed prematurely, nor should they be retained beyond their life span. If you are managing retention and disposition manually, you may be exposing your organization to non.pliance and/or litigation. By configuring your ECM system to automate document retention and disposition schedules, you can avoid costly penalties that are associated with human error. 5. Implement a disaster recovery plan Storage units .e with different options. Patricia paid a little extra for a climate-controlled unit, and we were grateful for that luxury as we were packing up. (Apparently, large arachnids are partial to climate control as well.) It was easy to see that if she hadnt chosen this option, some of her storage items might have been damaged by humidity or the extreme Florida heat. And as I recall, wherever she was living, Patricia always paid extra attention to the news reports of Florida hurricanes. The bottom line is, no matter how many measures you take to protect your stuff, there are no certainties in life. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. An ECM system wont protect your physical assets in the event of flood, fire, or other natural disaster, but it can enable business continuity under the worst of circumstances. An ECM system gives you the ability to copy documents to off-site storage or to multiple servers at multiple sites, performing backups whenever you specify. The potential for human error is removed, and risks associated with catastrophic disasters are mitigated. Keep the big picture in mind What threats are looming around the corner for your business? You may not be able to see them, but theyre out there. Make sure that you are prepared. An ECM system is the cornerstone to a solid records management strategy. Taking steps now to ensure business continuity under any conditions could give you the .petitive edge that youre looking for. 相关的主题文章: