April 20, 2011

Need More Justification to Update Your Data Retention Policies? Here are a few benefits, on the side...

An article on today's San Francisco Chronicle's website, SFGate.com, covers a computer mishap with the Division of Emergency Services. When their main computer system lost internet connectivity this past New Years, they discovered they could not switch over to a backup system because...(drum roll please)...no one had the password to get in. Only one person knew the password, and they were not on duty! Now why is this related to DREDLaw? Because in every company, as a part of the usual DREDLaw Assessment process, we have uncovered problems and potential problems related to Information Management and Governance.

Frequently, these were not obvious issues with DRED, but rather, they were jaw-dropping surprises to the clients. For example, I uncovered an instance of only one person knowing critical passwords, just by asking some of my standard interview questions to a department manager? In organizations, large and small, some information is more guarded, more remote, or maybe just seldom accessed. Without understanding who uses the resources and why, similar data traps can remain hidden, until it is too late. The solution may be simple. Redundancy can work just as well for people, as it does for computers.

Here are a few other "benefits on the side" that may be uncovered when you undergo an Assessment:

  • PST files that store business information off the network, where it is not backed-up
  • PST and other locally stored files that do not get searched for Legal Holds
  • Self-designed backup systems or workers who keep "everything" on a flash drive in their pocket
  • Search tools used by some employees, but not others
  • A separate hidden email server kept by a department (not making this up)
  • Instant Messaging records of communications with outside vendors or customers
  • Multiple copies of Records kept by many departments
  • No copies of important Records being kept because everyone thought another department was supposed to keep them
  • Personal copies of non-company authorized software applications-Yes, World of Warcraft can slow down a network...

So, just in case the obvious benefits of a better Information Management program are not enough motivation to persuade those who control the budget, maybe the above "benefits on the side," will help.

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