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File share projects don’t culminate in casual review of file extensions. The fun is just beginning. The next steps should include “easy deletes,” baseline statistical capture and thoughtful project management.

Easy Deletes

Once you identify the typical content categories, look for the “easy deletes.” Deleting objects of redundant, obsolete or transitory (ROT) value won’t make a huge dent -- typically the total count is less than 1 percent -- but this activity is an immediate win. At the same time, your team can identify duplicates within and across multiple shares.

Again, this will not provide a huge impact -- maybe 2 percent reduction at the most -- but it is low-hanging fruit. Quick decisions on this project are vital to your street cred.

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Baseline Analysis

As a baseline activity, split the content into two halves: administrative and technical data. Administrative includes categories like finance and human resources; technical data equates to your industry-specific explicit knowledge. Meanwhile, discuss internal and external criteria that will impact your decisions about the file share content. For example, sorting metadata by retention period, classes of information (mission-critical or sensitive), information security classifications, as well as expired third party data creates views into your organization’s content.

Analyze the cost of maintaining data by policy and by tier. As analysis progresses, the percentages of administrative and technical data will change as well. The point is you are creating a series of views and a strong financial picture for senior leadership. These views may be the result of multiple resources analyzing the same data. Manage all of these bloody footprints.

Plus, anecdotal research suggests employees don’t feel the same emotional tie with their content posted to a file share as when it is shared within email. File shares are an unobtrusive fountain of information for your organization’s records retention schedule.

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Zombie Records Projects

When a records program is comprised of one resource, a file shares cleanup project is incredibly tough. The length of time it takes to run reports via a third party software or vendor depends on a number of variables, including object counts, amount of metadata and network activity.

It’s a series of choices: you can point the software to the disaster recovery environment instead of production, but the resulting metadata activity may be at least 30 days old. If a business unit has significantly edited their folders in between the time you analyzed and Presentation Day, your presentation will be in danger. What if you need to compress a task schedule? How well is Excel performing? How well do you know Excel so you can manipulate the data? You get the idea ….

As project manager, it’s important that your work does NOT resemble a “zombie” project (not quite dead but not alive, either).  Cleaning up file shares is just one project of many in your records program. Negotiate your organization’s expectations carefully … and try to keep analysis costs under 10 percent of your salary. Senior leadership should never be able to interpret your action as running in place.

Title image by Jamie McCaffrey (Flickr) via a CC BY 2.0 license