Records managers, how do you start the defensible disposition conversation? Say it with flowers.
Chucking Daisies: Ten Rules for Taking Control of Your Organization’s Digital Debris
by Randolph A. Kahn, Esq. and Galina Datskovsky, Ph.D., CRM, is a 2013 publication from ARMA International.
This ambitious book may be under 70 pages, but it is a dense and quick read. Kahn and Datskovsky introduce the concept of planned, and therefore defensible, disposition.
They utilize several analogies:
Imagine a small sprouting daisy bursting through the ground struggling to get closer to the sun. It grows and grows, getting stronger by the day. At some point, that little daisy … will be harvested and find its way to your office in a vase filled with fresh water. The daisies are beautiful to the senses and light up the room.
However, as the days pass and no matter how much fresh water is added, their beauty will begin to decline. After a couple of weeks, their stems will start to bend, their once bright white and yellow colors will turn brown and their petals will wilt and fall off. They begin to stink and you throw them out.
Information is no different.
Think of the information in your organization as the daisies. It has a lifecycle — it comes into existence and at some point, when it no longer has business or legal value, it begins to “stink” as it clogs up your systems and should be disposed of. Old, outdated information needs to be “chucked” (or thrown away) just like dying daisies — maybe not in just a few weeks, but at some point it needs to go."
Flowers are only the beginning:
- “imagine … a house with a family of packrats”;
- “too much background noise means hearing the good music is much more challenging. So reduce the noise … throw out bad data”;
- information as a “pile”;
- 100 terabytes of data as “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”; and,
- the old man in the flood who asserts, “God will take care of me.”
… you get the idea.
The book is divided helpfully into ten rules, which I quite like. I also appreciate the latest research on data growth from IDC, Gartner and The Council for Information Auto-Classification.
Rule 1: Stop Keeping Everything Forever (KEF)
The authors claim that most organizations have an unspoken “Keep Everything Forever (KEF)” policy. Kahn and Datskovsky launch the heart of the book correctly: they argue against the “storage is cheap” position.
When you add in the costs of the systems that run the storage devices, the buildings they sit in, the energy required to run and cool them, the licenses for software and maintenance, the back-up processes required, and the people to manage it all, you’ll soon discover that storage is not so cheap after all!"
Some helpful tips and tricks to augment this position?
- Engage IT management to help solve the information over-retention problem.
- Find ways to reduce the employee burden of information management so they can focus on their core jobs.
- Make employees aware of how their “packrat-itis” impacts business efficiency and costs.
- Lawyers should guide the organization about what can be legally disposed of.
- Litigators must drop the “preserve everything” approach unless ordered by the court.
- Limit the use of technologies and storage areas for anything designated as a “record” that can’t be centrally accessed or controlled.
Please note that bulleted lists frequent each chapter — a perfect format for the executive-level audience.
Rule 2: Clean Up the Past to Gain Business Efficiency
Rule 3: Keep Only What You Can Access and Be Sure You Can Access What You Keep
I was surprised to read this statement: “even if there is a records manager, he or she cannot be expected to actually manage all the content created enterprise-wide by the organization.” Why not?
Rule 4: Create an Enterprise-Wide Information Governance Team
Agreed. And may I be included?
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