It All Adds Up: The Positive Effects of Smart Information Management
May 15, 2011
A thoughtfully designed information management plan drives cost savings, strongly supports compliance and increases efficiency.
Every business generates a wealth (or perhaps an avalanche) of data and records. But how can you best store and access it? Unfortunately, this often isn’t a front-burner issue until an audit, a legal action or a natural disaster forces the issue to the fore.
If you’re lacking an information management plan, you're missing opportunities to find cost savings, improve efficiencies and reduce the risks associated with noncompliance. And make no mistake: these benefits are connected; a weakness in any one aspect will hamper you in the others. As more data drives up your storage expenses, for example, it's harder to be efficient. And when you're not in compliance, you can incur some serious costs.
Once you start crafting an information management plan, keep these three related aspects in mind:
1. FOCUS ON: COST SAVINGS
What businessperson isn't always looking to cut costs? Don't overlook the hidden savings potential in improved information management, especially when inconsistent plans across various departments are killing efficiency. Do you have a messy filing system? It'll cost you. In fact, a 2006 IDC study reveals that an inefficient organization can attribute up to $14,000 of lost productivity per worker per year to its information retrieval difficulties. So why not consider these budget-conscious measures? :
- Eliminate unnecessary information to drive down the cost of storing paper and electronic records.
- Improve availability and accessibility to save the expense of locating or recreating misplaced information.
- Implement tiered storage processes to reduce average storage costs.
Follow through on these principles, and you can find savings through new storage methods, create an efficient retention policy and avoid the unplanned expense of a challenging document retrieval exercise—and maybe even fines and penalties.
2. FOCUS ON: COMPLIANCE
When it comes to information management and storage, compliance means developing policy to meet the requirements of federal, state and industry regulations and adhering to that policy in your day-to-day actions. The optimal program is legally defensible, consistently applied and able to support your regulatory obligations. (By the way, some records management personnel are now actually answering to their firms’ legal, compliance and finance departments, where compliance resonates most and receives the proper attention.) Here’s how to jumpstart your compliance initiative:
- Organize information management basics, including roles and responsibilities and company-wide terminology.
- Assess what you have now. Then apply these findings to an enterprise-wide implementation plan.
- Develop a legally credible retention schedule, as well as policies and procedures addressing privacy, security and disposal issues for both current records and those you’ll handle in the future.
- Implement a formally communicated compliance program across the business—and include training.
- Manage the program via reporting and metrics that help to ensure ongoing data security, accessibility and integrity.
- Audit policies’ compliance routinely.
Follow through with these steps, and you'll be better prepared to be in line with the appropriate laws and regulations, have faster response times in the event of an audit or litigation and avoid fines and penalties associated with failing to provide information in a timely fashion.
3. FOCUS ON: EFFICIENCY
A sound information access and distribution plan for your business is bound to boost its day-to-day efficiency. Whether it’s the ability to quickly respond to customer inquiries by accessing paper transaction records or processing expense reports accurately and quickly, effective information management is essential to your business. Here’s two ways to work both faster and smarter:
- Limit the amount of paper and electronic records at arm’s reach to only essential items supporting critical processes. Cutting clutter is the key to improved efficiency.
- Apply record storage and retention policies that ensure flexible access to both paper and electronic information.
If you stick to these objectives, you’ll be able to identify and remove bottlenecks that slow the distribution of your critical information. You’ll also reduce the time associated with creating and circulating multiple copies of a single record, while making your company more agile and responsive.
The Positive Effects of Information Management