Information Governance Insights:

Spring Cleaning Time!



Robin Woolen, MBA, IGP has worked in the field of information lifecycle management since 1994 with a specialty in strategic consulting focused on enterprise-scale information management.

Groundhog Day has come and gone. Whatever the prognostication Spring is definitely on the way! This signals the ancient tradition of Spring Cleaning! It’s time to open the house up and get rid of the refuse that has gathered over the Winter months. The same goes for all organizations. Information Governance Professionals should take a hint from human nature and have their own Spring Cleaning Day to review the existing files and, following the Records Retention Schedule, if it is time to get rid of it, and it is not under a legal hold, get rid of it! Follow those workflows, get the approvals and dispose of those old files. This will save storage cost and minimize any risk associated with these old files. Remember that you have to follow the documented policy, and be able to prove it, or you are better off without one. 

This does not mean you get rid of things that should be kept for good reason. If someone in the approval chain believes some file slated for final disposition should be retained, set it aside for review. It is entirely possible the documented retention period no longer works in today’s environment. These are factors that should be considered very carefully with the Information Governance committee to see if a change to the Retention Schedule is warranted.  

An annual review by the Information Governance committee should be a priority activity every year.
If it does then do it! Take the time to review the Record Schedule and see if it still works for your organization. There will always be changes in the market, technology or the way you do business that mean changes to the retention schedule. An annual review by the Information Governance committee should be a priority activity every year. 

Another factor that will impact the retention schedule is technology, both new and legacy. It is very important from an Information Governance perspective that any new system be evaluated for any potential record they may create. This could mean that whatever they produce must be categorized into an existing document type, the preferred solution, or an entirely new document type must be created to accommodate the new system. As always, it is important to review all changes with the Legal department to ensure the retention schedule meets all current regulatory requirements.

Legacy, or existing technology, is another important consideration. One constant in Information Governance is that there are always changes and improvements in technology is the most obvious. Organizations must keep up with these changes. However it is important to remember the information contained in the existing systems must be maintained until their retention date expires or migrated to the new systems. This means working very closely with the Information Technology department to develop the best plan for your organization.

The tradition of Spring Cleaning is a good one for Information Governance professionals to use. Getting rid of Redundant, Obsolete and Transitory information (ROT) is a major part of the daily job. Utilizing this ancient tradition for organizational maintenance is an easy way to get everyone on board, particularly when most people are already doing the same in their own private lives. Happy cleaning!


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