Now that the holidays are over and the gifts budget is spent, does the world seem less burnished and a little darker? It shouldn’t, information professionals, because we know January is really the most wonderful time of the year.

Why? Because it doesn’t matter the size or focus of your organization: January is for media-agnostic destruction.

Seriously, this is my favorite time of the year.

Garbage-In, Garbage-Out


In the early phases of your electronic records management (ERM) implementation, you must be concerned about GIGO, or “Garbage-In-Garbage-Out.”

I am about to say something rather harsh, considering the extraordinary talent and resolve an organization and the executive sponsor therein must have to codify signatures on the ERM implementation project charter. But the signatures on the project charter are a walk in the park compared to what’s next.

I don’t care what repository you use; you have a responsibility to your organization to house only records in the records repository. To put it bluntly: you are not allowed to trash your repository with unnecessary objects to justify the original expense of it.

Tough to admit considering how difficult it is for most organizations to sponsor a repository in the first place.

January is Records Statistics Month

Well, ok, every month is records statistics month, but if I can choose only one, this month is it. Destruction review in January is a perfect opportunity to leverage the business imperative of declaring records. The bliss that is the records review needs only two things: your gift of anticipation and your records logic.

You’ve prepared your phase summary; distribute it to your C-level to gain permissions to the metadata of their file shares. Review your box collection. Does every box have an inventory? By business unit, lift the lids off the boxes and perform a file level inventory (especially if you have a small collection).

Those file titles are perfect for keyword and chronological searches in all potential records locations. Chronologically arrange your keywords according to your records retention schedule. Tack your statistics up. Look at your baselines in 2012. What metrics stand out to you? Here are a few suggestions in no particular order:

  • Who most frequently saved duplicate (or more) objects?
  • Who averages what types of files and where are they stored?
  • What hasn’t been modified in how many years?
  • How much has storage grown in particular increments?
  • What is typically named how?
  • How many of your records series are relevant to your records storage?
  • If the content was stored in other media, how much storage would it consume?

Just Go

You’re getting the picture of how to create the picture.

In my experience it’s less than helpful to advertise your ERM implementation as a governance effort -- that’s the document you create behind the implementation as you complete each phase.

No, describe the project (and this set of tasks in particular) as eliminating wasted storage space first in your unstructured locations in order to ensure your repository is neat and clean. This message will inhibit your records repository’s chances of burgeoning into a receptacle for objects of transitory importance. Most organizations hate waste; I hate waste; I recommend you hate waste too.

Image courtesy of keng88 (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Mimi hates waste and loves records management. To read more of her thoughts, check out Records Management: Retention Schedules Take a Back Seat