My elementary school was a fair amount progressive. They introduced us munchkins to the basics of waste management. Reduce, reuse, recycle was catchy, memorable, and made us be conscientious citizens of the planet at home and at school. Recently I learned of the 4th R, for Recover, which represents the recovery plants where recyclable materials are processed. Years later, I can’t help but draw parallels to the wonderful world of records and information management.
Let’s break it down (get it??)
Organizations everywhere produce information at a blistering pace. Keeping up with it, both in paper and electronic formats, is enough to make any RIM professional dizzy. Add to that rising storage costs, rapid technology changes and new legislation and it plum causes palpitations. Saving everything ‘just-in-case’ only increases the size of your problem.
Step one in gaining control is to know what you have. This required a team effort, but in understanding what you have you can take a big step towards a more efficient RIM process: reducing your volume. Paramount to RIM best practices is the records retention schedule and a record classification system. Creating these can be made easy, particularly if you partner with outside experts. They can help you assess current state and bring good RIM to life across your organization.
Now you can manage what’s left: that which fuels key business processes across your business. Much of this may be reused and so you need process and systems in place to get the right input to the right person at the right time, while also protecting it the right way. Without this, you’ll often spend valuable time and resources searching for the information you need. Outsourcing all, or parts, of your RIM program can help you be confident you can get what you need when you need it.
Once your information has reached the end of its useful life and it is eligible for destruction according to your policies, you can happily, and securely, shred it. Shredded paper is recycled back into other consumer paper products. Your resignation letter may someday become someone else’s offer letter.
Last, but not least, is recovery. Recovery for RIM is all about getting your business back up and running when things go awry, because your business depends on it. Disaster Recovery planning, testing and support are unquestionably critical to getting your business what it needs to keep on keepin’ on.
It has been said that waste management’s objective is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste. Similarly, the objective of RIM is to extract the maximum practical benefits from your information and to minimize the amount of wasted resources (time, space, money).
What did you learn in kindergarten that you manage your information, or life, today?
Are you attending ARMA? If so, please join Washingtonian editor Garrett Graff, AIIM director Jesse Wilkins and Iron Mountain’s Richard Reese at Iron Mountain’s RIM Forum. For more information, please visit: http://ironmountain.com/arma/thingstodo.html