According to Wikipedia, “a digital hoarder has excessive acquisition of and reluctance to delete electronic material no longer valuable to the user”.
Think about it. Do you or others in your company keep every email sent and received? Are all phone calls logged or recorded and stored for, well forever, since there is no policy to delete them? Are there dozens of ad hoc Excel® files sitting on employee computers that contain company information that isn’t backed up anywhere else?
And what about external digital storage? Does your company use internet tools or services for email campaigns, sales contact information, automated accounting functions, etc.? And then there are third party cloud storage services. Who in your company tracks where all this data is and makes sure the information stays current and secure?
If your company is like many organizations, data is hoarded in all kinds of nooks and crannies on your IT networks and systems. Sometimes this information is saved due to fear of deleting something that just may be, but probably won’t be, important one day. Other times it is because data is so difficult to access that employees keep unsanctioned versions in a hidden file on their computer.
So what’s the big deal about saving too much information? Some will say digital storage is cheap; there is no need to declutter the piles of digital data. However, a well-managed data retention policy is important for many reasons:
- Regulatory compliance requirements.
- Legal reference and support documentation.
- Secure, organized and easy access to information.
- Consistent and current data across the company.
- Planned back up of important company data.
- Disaster recovery protocols for data critical to business operations.
To understand what data your company needs to retain, start with these three questions:
- Are there regulatory requirements that require us to keep the data?
- Are there legal reasons to keep the data?
- Is the data useful for business operations like accounting, sales or marketing?
Once you have decided what data to keep, make sure you have a document management and IT infrastructure that is secure yet accessible to appropriate personnel. Next decide how long you need to keep the information. Finally, set up a secure process for destroying unneeded data.
If you are uncertain what data to keep, how to make it accessible, or how to destroy unnecessary information, consider talking with an IT consulting firm like Superior Endeavors, Inc. They can provide best-practice data retention policies and procedures for your company, and keep you from being a digital hoarder.
For more information, read Continuum’s® eBook Data Retention Best Practices.