These words by Mason Cooley ring incredibly true when it comes to managing content in our organizations.
An all too common conversation that happens in my appointments with clients is:
Me: “So how do you manage your documents today?”
Client: “We keep them in the office file cabinets for ___ years then we send them to offsite storage.”
Me: “Do you ever have to retrieve anything from offsite.”
Client: “Only if we have to refer back to it.”
Me: “So according to your document retention policy, how long to do keep those documents in storage?”
Client: “Our what?” OR “Oh, we worked on a document retention policy years ago, but we just keep everything forever.”
Me: “And the documents on your network? How are those tracked?”
Client: “By whoever stores them.”
Me: “How about your emails? How are you tracking what is coming in and out of the organization and making sure it gets addressed?”
This interaction probably horrifies the many talented Records Managers that are members of AIIM, but it is amazingly common. So why would so many small to medium businesses invest thousands and thousands of dollars in box and server storage as well as put themselves at huge risk for future litigation by keeping all of this information? Procrastination. We know it has to be done but who wants to do it?
Unfortunately, the first step to a tightly controlled content management plan is often a disaster in the form of a fire, flood, lawsuit... But enough with the doom and gloom. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Here is why you should start today:
If you don’t already have a Document Retention Schedule, you should. If you have one and don’t follow it, you should. Across your organization from HR to Operations to Email there are lawsuits waiting happen.
There is no doubt that there are other priorities in your organization. The problem is, the longer you wait the harder it becomes to get all of this information under control. The amount of documents and data that we consume is increasing dramatically every year. Putting this project off for another 6-12 months only makes it larger and more daunting once you finally address it.
Once you rip off the band-aid, it gets so much easier. No doubt, there is work to be done up front, but imagine knowing that every document is exactly where it should be and is being properly managed from inception to destruction. Huge productivity gains can be realized by eliminating all of that searching and duplication. Never mind the hard costs of file cabinets, office space, storage space, file clerks who just move files from one place to another…
There are terrific tools to help you do this. Of course, the most efficient way to manage all of your content is through content management software. This software allows you to put everything in one central place where it can be accessed by anyone with proper permissions. In addition, you can set up date for either automatic deletion or review so that you no longer have manually search through boxes to determine what stays and goes.
Harnessing all of the content within your documents can be a huge benefit to your organization. Imagine never missing a client inquiry or opportunity because it was emailed directly to an individual rather than the company. But I will elaborate more on that in my next blog.
Putting a plan in place, training your staff, and adhering to a document management policy may not be the easiest initiative on your plate this year, but once it’s up and running it will be completely off of the company “to do” list. While there are risks associated with procrastination, there is opportunity in taking the bull by the horns or the box by the handle, so to speak.
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