Pros of Automating Records Disposition

Topics: Data Archive | Govern Information | IT Asset Disposition

The volume of digital data that is available for records disposition or destruction continues to grow as records and information managers and information governance professionals are faced with big decisions. Systems are beleaguered with more data than they can handle when using traditional methods. There is no question that the need for the reduction, disposition and destruction of digital records from enterprises has risen to a level of high importance. The volume of potentially useless or valueless records is staggering. The automation of routine processes such as auto-classification of scheduled records disposition adds strength to existing retention programs, even when they are challenged by auditors or regulators.

Implementing Organization-Wide Auto-Classification

Auto-classification processes can become the spark for more routine reviews of retention schedules and destruction criteria when they are set without subjective opinion or bias. Auditors or regulators like when these processes are in place. Unfortunately, lawyers are hesitant to actually dispose of the records once they are identified by auto-classification systems. Litigation and the discretion of the court influence the outcome. Auto-classification ensures retention and records disposition rules are applied within specific parameters and are supported by documented policies and citations if they are carefully selected and structured after an extensive amount of research and peer review.

Organizations may be best served when they use consistent approaches to these business processes. Information governance professionals know and understand that defensible disposal is an important part of an effective information governance program, though few organizations actively dispose of data that no longer has business or legal value.

Creating Sound Policies

Building a sound approach to records and information management as part of the organization's information governance strategy is filled with obstacles from lawyers and technologists. It seems that the onus lies on data governance professionals in IT to develop field and data elements with exact standards so that auto-classification can work properly. According to the Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA), organizations could be indefinitely storing their electronic records and information with expired retention periods because they don't have consistent policies dictating when they should destroy them.

When developing a policy, ARMA recommends discussing with peers what they are doing to tighten up their own data destruction efforts. Carefully designing a sustainable and standardized process for automated records destruction is hard to do, but it is an important task to undertake. The ultimate goal is that an electronic record is destroyed as soon as it satisfies its retention period set by the organization's approved retention schedule. In traditional destruction programs, manual processes are used to eliminate stored records at the end of their retention periods.

Whether automated or manual, record destruction should include all previous versions of records. Records and the types of media that support them must be entirely destroyed so they cannot be reconstructed. In the best-case scenario, an organization can require complete, irrevocable destruction of certain types of records or forensic deletion. Forensic deletion takes more time, care, money and diligence, but it may be a requirement for the most sensitive records.

Do you have questions about records and information management? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain's Information Management team. You'll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.


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Topics: Govern Information

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