Tame Your Data Dragon in Four Steps

The amount of information, paper and digital, we are creating and trying to manage these days is simply terrifying, just like a dragon. Our IT friends are hanging on for dear life, while our Records Managers are being bombarded with initiatives to improve the flow of records without spending money and with less staff. Unfortunately, no two files are the same (unless a copier was involved). Therefore, information has to be managed using a system that meets the demands for a variety of users. Some examples of this are:
  • the IRS has its tax and audit code,
  • your clients, patients and employees have privacy expectations,
  • and protecting proprietary secrets and strategies is most likely the most valuable of all these concerns but has little, if any, rules and regulations.
With all this working against you, how do you even begin to improve the way your information is managed?

Step 1: “Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

The past is the past—allocating vast resources to fix the past is a luxury most can’t afford. Decide on a better future by not committing the same mistakes today. Once you live up to this promise, the bleeding will stop and you can begin to improve. Laws, technology, corporate strategy and risk management are moving so fast, devoting yourself to staying on top of what’s to come is of much more concern than fixing what’s already done.

Step 2: Know the Flow of Information. Who Needs What?

You must grab a hold of this beast and study its patterns. Specifically, where does it start, go, and end up. Find the stakeholders and learn their requirements. Do you need the source data and the printed form? Should it be scanned? Far too often, decisions are made, journeys are started and then come to a screeching halt when a “surprise” need is found, sometimes too late. Going forward is where the big gains and control reside. Your decisions can ripple through for years to come – be careful and make the best choice you can afford today.

Step 3: Preserve the Past, Without Compromising the Future

Some data dragons are so deep in the forest, no one can capture them. Others can be contained or at least have their impact minimized. Just as in Step 2 above, you need to get everyone’s input yet the discussion is much different. This is an area of compromise – getting the biggest bang for your buck(s). Retention scheduling is a huge matter here – do you have one, has it been approved by legal, accounting, risk management, QC, and all the other stakeholders. You probably need to break down the pile to gain control.

Step 4: Get Help! Focus on your Core Competency.

You are not alone in this battle. Don’t lose focus on what you contribute to your firm. Professional information management firms, like Corodata, help their clients straighten out this mess all the time. We’ve seen it all, and there is hope. Trust the experts to do the literal and figurative heavy lifting. You define your needs and goals – we’ll take care of the rest.