When it comes to your information management, there’s a lot that could go wrong. Information could be lost. Information might be misplaced. You might lose hours and hours in data recovery. Data might be stolen. Records might be deleted. Deleted! Just like that, the wrong button could be clicked. Just like that, all those crucial documents are gone. Perhaps you find yourself unable to recover from disaster. A flood might take your storage warehouse. Someone might set fire to the archives out the back. It could happen. And perhaps the most frightening vulnerability you face is knowing that in the event of any such disaster you could have nasty lawsuit to grapple with. Consider the cost of litigation, not just for your organisation’s wallet but the cost you’ll pay in losing credibility. That’s probably a price too high to pay.

Knowing all that could go wrong, there’s an important reality to face. All these potential dangers are not just problems in and of themselves. More accurately, they are symptoms. Symptoms of a much larger and a very common problem: improper data management.

Improper data management can be a beginning of sorrows for you and your organisation. Vulnerabilities in your data management can threaten to destroy everything you have built. The time has come to check in on your data management program. Does it run smoothly and efficiently? Could it be strengthened? Better defended?

The best defence, as they say, is a good offence. Ensuring best practice as a secure and foolproof strategy for data management is the best route to take. The essentials in setting up your data management program can be distilled down to five key stages: security, scheduling, hierarchical storage, auditing and offsite storage.

Security

From the outset, security should be made a priority and considered very seriously.

  • Keep frequently accessed records close at hand
  • Make sure all confidential data is kept under lock and key
  • Control access rights and limit how many hands can handle sensitive information
  • Go digital with any data that’s more difficult to safeguard
  • Outsource to a reliable storage and data protection partner who can guarantee the highest security

Scheduling

Every single record should be kept on a retention-destruction schedule. Your organisation is constantly creating new material and choosing to keep everything (and anything!) will mean you’ll be very quickly inundated by copious amounts of paper and records. It quickly becomes too difficult to handle, sort, index or store. This approach also eats away at your total storage space, which can mean you end up wasting money on real estate or storage space.

All recorded information should be kept on a retention schedule under which its lifetime is determined and tracked to ensure it’s destroyed in a timely and responsible manner. This protects your information from falling in to the wrong hands.

Hierarchical Storage

Knowing not all records are equal and determining hierarchy in your data storage management can save you time, money and space. Some records, for instance, are needed more frequently, some become obsolete in a short time where others need to be kept for a long time. Some documents demand a high level of security whereas others? Not so much.

As your information varies, so should the way it’s treated. A blanket policy to apply to all records can lead to weak security or a waste of resources. Defaulting to the highest level of security for documents that don’t need it can be a costly procedure. Best practice means being able to segregate records according to requirement and integrate them in to a tiered information storage system. This allows you to allocate resources to records as needed, allows for better security and a more efficient use of time, money and space.

Auditing

Indexes and audits are your best friends. Truly. With the huge bulk of data created and stored by your organisation on a daily basis, it’s important to understand that tracing any particular document among thousands of documents is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Or perhaps even more challenging: it’s like looking for a particular needle in a pile of very similar looking needles. Nightmare.

You can avoid the needle problem by creating an index containing some basic parameters or metadata as well as dividing your index by type, department and importance. That way, document location becomes a very easy task and your employees won’t need to waste time and resources on locating records. To this end, partial digitisation – scanning and imaging and changing to the digital format – is a good idea to maximise ease and access of your indexing process.

Offsite Storage

Finally, it’s a good idea to consider offsite storage options integrated with disaster recovery to ensure continuity and security. Data that is kept off the premises is free of the influence of any disaster to happen onsite. Offsite storage also limits access to specified individuals as an increased security measure. Archives and disaster recovery measures should always be planned in conjunction with offsite storage.

Five essential steps? That’s all it takes? To achieve best practice in your data management program? Surely not. Surely that’s too simple. Well, to establish a truly successful program, it’s important to treat these steps with the utmost respect and care to achieve the best data management program possible. There’s only five key stages listed here, but they’re easy to get wrong. It’s easy to underestimate the minutiae and the nitty-gritty of your program.

To this end, consider a professional partner in data management. ZircoDATA can walk you through these steps until you’re ready to run with an established program that functions with efficiency. Contact ZircoDATA by calling 13 ZIRCO, email us at services@zircodata.com.au or click the link.