5 Action Items From ARMA Live 2014

Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego It's been about a week since ARMA International's 59th Annual Conference & Expo in San Diego. Being a northeasterner, I'm already missing that gorgeous So-Cal weather. But as the old saying goes, life goes on!

At ARMA, I spent most of my time at the FileTrail booth #1030 educating attendees about our upcoming document management platform, which allows organizations to manage both physical and electronic content throughout it's life-cycle in one single solution. It's pretty awesome, definitely an exciting time to be at FileTrail!

While interacting with attendees, it's still blatantly obvious that organizations, spanning every industry and continent, are still struggling with managing information. Year after year, it's the same old story. By now, we're back to the daily grind, catching up on emails and tasks that we put on the back burner while attending the conference. But before we get too entrenched into our daily activities, let's make an action item list, so our conference trip wasn't a waste.

1. Convince C-Level Information Governance Matters. This needs to be No. 1 on your list. Why? Simply put, if the individual cutting the checks doesn't see the value, you will be just spinning your wheels.

How to do it? Find a case study of an organization in your industry that has benefited from developing an information governance program. Real life examples from industry peers can go along way and do much of the talking for you.

2. Decommission Old Software. This is by no means an easy task especially if you been involved with a merger/acquisition or two. But there's no reason to pay maintenance and storage fee's on software you no longer use. It doesn't make much sense. It's like paying insurance on a car you no longer own.

How to do it? Take an inventory of all software applications in the organization. Then, talk with your IT department and see which applications you are actually using and for what purpose. You most definitely will be surprised. What may surprise you even more is the cost associated with "dead" applications.

3. Eliminate ROT (Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial) Data. Organizations have hundreds of millions of files which have no value. This makes it next to impossible to find the information you need when you need it, which contributes to increased e-discovery cost and many innumerable risks.

How to do it? The most successful way to deal with ROT data is to identify and categorize the information when it's first created, then apply a policy which will delete this data before it impacts the organization. This is easier said than done. The market for content analytic tools is maturing, so that certainly is an option if you have the coin. However, a simpler approach is to stop buying more servers, email archives and shared drives. Even simpler, start deleting those large .wav and .avi files which no longer have value.

4. Execute Retention Policy. By now most organizations have a retention policy which outlines how long information is retained, but few actually follow the policy. Why is this the case? The process is still very manual and no one wants to pull the trigger. This is very dangerous ground. You may as well have no policy at all.

How to do it? Stop relying on manual processes to dispose of information. Purchase an automated retention management tool to manage the process. If purchasing software is not in your budget at the moment, then create some metrics (i.e cost of retaining vs. disposing of data). In my experience, decision makers love graphs and word pictures.

5. Create an Information Governance Steering Committee. This is a cross functional team from different departments (i.e.Legal, Records, Compliance, IT, Information Security, Business) working together to solve the information explosion.

How to do it? Don't create a new committee. If you try, your information governance program may never get off the ground. Instead, choose an existing one already successful leading projects.

What's on your ARMA Live 2014 Action Item List? Please share your thoughts in the comments field below.