August 30, 2012 - 4:26 PM
So, you have a sound records management/information governance program in place. That was a HUGE challenge and your organization should commend you. But if you are getting a little restless and looking for the next project, here are some places you can look for business content that might not be explicitly addressed by your program:
Text Messages– one of the managers for your company has a mobile workforce, so he sends them directives and responds to their requests for manager approval via text message.
Instant Messaging – your firm offers Instant Messaging and has rules in place around that, but some staff members need to instant message with non-employees, so they use their Yahoo or AOL account to exchange business related instant messages with outside parties.
GoogleDocs (or similar) – one of your employees needs to collaborate on a document with a customer or a vendor. So they post it to GoogleDocs and work on it there.
Yammer (or similar) – your company has a project team that is located in different buildings and they need a quick and easy way to share updates with each other (and no one else), so the project manager creates a Yammer group they can all use.
Portable media – I want to work from home and I don’t want to take my laptop, so I copy a bunch of documents to the thumb drive I was given at a conference and take them that way.
Home computers – my dedicated administrative support person wants to complete a project over the weekend and she doesn’t have a laptop, so she emails the information she needs to her personal email address and works on it at home.
Voicemail – customers call your sales representatives’ cell phones and leave complaints and requests for credits on their cell phone voicemail.
Off-site Storage – one of your plants in East Hicksville* is out of room to store records, so they rent a self-storage locker for that purpose. The dollar amount for that transaction is so low that they do not need approval beyond the plant manager.
Free File Sharing Sites – a director is on the board of a trade association for your business and they have created a file sharing account out on Dropbox that they use to exchange documents related to industry strategies.
Are you as traumatized as I am by now? The purpose of this post is NOT to give you night terrors. Instead, it is to emphasize two things:
Progress, not perfection is the goal for any records management/information governance program, and
These are examples where a single pronged approach is not sufficient. Your program needs to have all the following:
Rules - High level policies that describe what is “forbidden” and what is “required.”
Standards that describe how policies are implemented. Your retention schedule can be considered a standard.
Specific procedures that describe, in easy to understand words, the proper way to handle information. Your destruction process is a good example.
Excellent training and communications to make sure everyone is aware of the nature and existence of the policies, standards and procedures. And where to find them when the need arises.
Tools – Technologies and systems that, to the degree it makes sense from a cost-benefit perspective, automate enforcement of those policies and standards. A data loss prevention tool that prompts a user that tries to email a document to a “Gmail” address is an example.
Information is like water; it can find its way through the smallest crack. Your policies, standards, procedures, training and tools are like sieves. Any one of them might let quite a bit of water through, but if you layer them on top of each other, you can create an (almost) watertight container. Of course, since you’re dealing with human beings, there’s always someone that can (accidentally or deliberately) slop the water all over the floor. Have a roll paper towels handy.
*FYI, I thought I had created East Hicksville as a humorous location name when I drafted this, but then I discovered that Land O’Lakes actually has a facility in Hicksville, NY and that they are sending me there to complete a records inventory. Sometimes the truth is funnier than fiction.
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This post and comment(s) reflect the personal perspectives of community members, and not necessarily those of their employers or of AIIM International