Earlier this year, Iron Mountain engaged over 5,500 professionals from mid-size organizations in a survey to uncover key business efficiency challenges associated with managing both paper and electronic information. The results are now in and I’d like to share some of our key findings:
- Interestingly, 65% of organizations polled admit to having an incomplete or no formal records and information management process.
- Thirty two percent of those surveyed report that a trigger event, such as litigation, audit, or investigation has increased their awareness of the need for improved records and information management.
- Conversely, 58% of organizations have not yet experienced such a trigger event.
Trigger events can range from potentially positive (like mergers) to the unfortunate (like lawsuits) to full-blown disasters. And when they strike, they can drain your organization of valuable resources, take employees away from core business practices, and often prevent you from accessing core systems needed for business operation.
So, what does this mean for you?
If your organization is one of the 65% without a formal records and information program, there is an opportunity for you to gain an information advantage by streamlining your processes and boosting operational efficiencies before an event occurs. As the Iron Mountain survey reflects, organizations are often reactive in getting their information management “house” in order and are missing valuable opportunities to find cost savings, protect vital documents, improve access to documents, establish audit trails, and reduce the risks associated with noncompliance.
Five tips to help you get your information in order now so if the unexpected happens you will be prepared:
1. Eliminate Bottlenecks: Think about how a specific piece of information in your organization is used. Ask yourself who needs it, when and for what reason. Then, review access requirements, examine current workflows and determine a means of storing, indexing and imaging different types of information to provide records to users across your business.
2. Look for the Paper trail: Because paper continues to be a prominent part of many business processes and often requires you to manually print, distribute and store records, it is often the source of many errors and operational inefficiencies. Establishing a procedure for the timely conversion of paper records to an electronic format is a sure-fire way to reduce errors, streamline processes, and give you access to the information you need when you need it in the case of audit or litigation.
3. Zoom in on copies: Keeping too many copies of a particular document on hand can significantly hinder agility and slow response times. To make sure this isn’t the case, look for areas where redundant copies are draining efficiency. Any situation where multiple copies are created can be refined with the help of centralized, electronic storage that provides company-wide accessibility.
4. Prepare for the unexpected: Recognizing that the unexpected can — and does — happen is the first step in being able to quickly recover from a disruption or respond to a discovery request. You must also implement disaster recovery processes that ensure a paper record — as well as the system on which electronic information resides — can be restored following an unplanned event. You’ll also need to develop litigation readiness programs that help you identify and produce the records needed during a lawsuit in a timely manner.
5. Create business agility: Quickly responding to requests from internal and external customers alike is highly dependent on your ability to locate the required information in a timely manner. To do this as efficiently as possible, you must optimize your workflows so they are able to flex with the changing needs of your company.