Reducing Risks in a Climate of Constant Change, Part 1

Whether you're moving, downsizing, merging or digging out from a disaster, smart information management can minimize your risks.

A truly effective plan to organize and safeguard all of your company’s data should include paper records, backup tapes, emails and all forms of social media.

Imagine that your company suddenly decides to merge with the competition or reduce its office footprint by moving. What if a hurricane slams your data center or the power grid fails? Dealing with your data under those stress-laden scenarios is not a pretty picture.

A companywide records management plan, including a legally sound records retention schedule, will serve you well as you work to reduce your organization’s risk.

Shrinking and Growing—Simultaneously

If you haven’t planned for the unexpected, you’re not alone. A recent Iron Mountain survey found that businesses with well-developed information management plans were spurred into action only after a “trigger” event occurred.

Aside from the unexpected, industries of all kinds, rattled by an uncertain economy, are looking for ways to save money by taking up less space. The average business uses about 20 percent less space than it did a decade ago. At the same time, the amount of information in the world doubles every two years, and companies are struggling to keep up with this data explosion.

Creating a plan to address all of this can seem overwhelming, especially when you realize that in addition to your paper records, backup tapes and emails, you need to protect your digital media—the information you upload and share, which may live on your servers or in the cloud.

Suffering a security breach with your digital and social media information can mean losing customers and brand ambassadors—a risk you don’t want to take. You need to know that you have the technology and expertise necessary to get up and running after a business interruption.

Begin with the Big Picture

Breaking down the task makes it much easier to tackle. Consider working with a trusted partner to easily locate and distribute information across your business; to help you pare down the records you need to support critical processes; and to create and apply storage, retention and recovery policies. That way, you can quickly get what you need when you need it.

Minimize your risk and increase your efficiency by taking these steps:

  • Separate active from inactive files as your work toward reducing the volume of both your digital and paper records.
  • Organize active files to meet your business and legal needs. At the same time, apply process changes to improve information flow throughout your business.
  • Adopt a hierarchical approach that creates optimal structures for different types of information.
  • Develop a records retention schedule to determine which documents you no longer need.
  • Determine which inactive records you need on hand and which you can send offsite for storage. Candidates for the archives include data older than 18 months; closed quality records; Occupational Safety and Health Administration files; human resources, payroll and accounting files; and prior years’ financials.

The same strong records management program that prepares you for the unpredictable can also help keep your company lean and agile every day. That can mean lower management and storage costs, and better compliance with industry regulations. Such efficiencies are a number one priority for executives, according to a 2010 study. Indeed, 63 percent of executives who have implemented information management programs did so to save money.

In times of dramatic change—planned or unplanned—working with a trusted partner might just be the boost your organization needs. The right partner can tailor an information management strategy to meet your needs while ensuring that your business continues to function at top speed—no matter what management, the competition or the heavens have in store.

Iron Mountain Suggests: Guidelines for Organizing Information

Information rarely accumulates in an organized fashion. That’s why creating a plan that addresses all your paper and electronic documentation—one that will serve you now and into the future—is a challenging proposition.

Iron Mountain can help you start sorting through your burgeoning files with these guidelines:

  • Scan hard-copy active records: OSHA and lab research/quality assurance records; human resources paper files (for uploading into your Human Resources Management System); hard copy subject to litigation discovery; active supplier contracts/subcontractor agreements
  • Send finished project data offsite: closed contracts; completed activities and projects
  • Let some go: Unofficial records; documents you are no longer required to retain; duplicates; personal papers; printed emails archived online; handwritten notes

If your business is moving, group like records together and choose a logical system of organization to make it easier to jump-start in your new space. And before you leave, be sure to search all areas where records may hide: desk drawers, file cabinets, boxes, closets, binders, offsite storage facilities and third-party vendors. Even if you’re staying put, an occasional sweep for stray documents will ensure that nothing escapes.

Do you have questions about 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.

Related Content:

Relocating? Consider These Smart Records and Information Management Moves

Office Lease Expiring? Make Time for a Records and Information Management Checkup

Smart Records and Information Management: Pathways to Optimizing Office Space