Temporary Record Storage: What About the “Other Stuff”?

Robin Woolen, The Records Guru®

Every organization is swamped with files that need to be kept in temporary record storage for a variety of reasons. This causes a real dilemma for information governance professionals trying to effectively manage data against storage costs.

So exactly how big is the problem? According to Veritas Technologies’ Global Databerg Report, only 15% of corporate data is business critical and 33% is redundant, obsolete or trivial. The remaining 52% is dark data, meaning it is unclassified and “beneath the line of sight of senior management.” Considering these figures and current storage costs, it is easy to make the decision to get rid of a lot of your stored data, but there is still the matter of the 15%.

Every organization has stored data with some business value that is not subject to regulatory retention. This “other stuff” is accumulated in the course of the daily business routine. These might include temporary files or draft documents sitting in a network share drive. This is the stuff that everyone squirrels away because they think they might need it someday. It is not a “record” per se — and does not rise to a level where it can be easily classified — but it does have some business value (at least to the person or department that decides to keep it).

These are the types of files that should be accommodated. Rather than starting a battle to get rid of them, a solid strategy around temporary record storage can help your organization manage and maintain critical business data, reduce storage costs and educate your staff on the benefits of information governance. Much like maintaining business records in electronic document management systems, temporary record storage can be developed by the IT department in a network share environment.

A good example of such a system has been in place to manage email for years. Many organizations use a system of email folders where messages can be segregated in order of importance, with time limits established for each folder depending on the business need. It is common to see three folders with expiration dates of 30, 60 and 90 days in such a system.

Any email determined to be of such business value beyond the upper limit should be reviewed for classification as a record under the organization’s record schedule and maintained in the electronic document management system. While this process was cumbersome in the past, technology is now available to classify these emails automatically — which helps reduce the risk of human error.

The same system can be arranged in a network share or collaborative environment. While it is true that developing this arrangement in a network share environment will require your IT department’s time and effort (as well as training for everyone in the organization), the return should be well worth it. Adding automation to the process will certainly aid in the transition, but starting with a manual process at first will have benefits in the long term.

The main point is to get started. Every organization has similar storage issues and faces the same change management obstacles. Using a system to accommodate temporary record storage can help ease these concerns.

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