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Records Management Programs Need a Diet

Last week at the AIIM Conference, I noticed that lots of companies are looking for the quick win on records management.  There’s no such thing.  Users need to realize records management is like a diet.  At my annual physical my doctor keeps telling me to eat right and exercise.  I do neither, so can I complain to the doctor about being overweight?  Records management programs need a solid file plan defined (or retention schedule) and then content needs to be indexed.  If you do neither, can you be surprised that your documents are out of control?   But wait, there’s more.

Fad Diets

My favorite is the chocolate diet which came out in February 2014.  Eat anything you want with chocolate and you’ll lose weight.  By May of 2015, the diet was admitted to be a hoax.  The diet continues to resurface even though the original scientists themselves said it was a hoax.

People jump to new technologies to “solve” the records management problems.  SharePoint and Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) solutions, like Box and Dropbox, were the latest revelations.  While they may solve some problems, but without following a formal records plan all you have now are several collections of unmanaged documents.

The Scare

One day as you’re going through the drive in of your favorite fast-food restaurant, you feel a pain in your chest.  You awaken from your blackout in the hospital.  The nurse comes in and tells you that you lost consciousness and have diabetes.  It could have been worse.  All those french fries, chicken wings, and pizzas while binge watching TV could have resulted in a heart attack.  Now you’re on a bunch of pills to control your blood pressure.  Of course, the doctor still wants you to diet and exercise.

Failing an audit or a legal action is a sure way to start the conversation about records policy.  Often it’s only an event like this that will get a company to start controlling its records.  Losing a certification or a plaintiff’s discovery request shines a light on the issues of a bad records policy.  This may be a one-time event, but the company will still need to follow a records policy.

The Silver Bullet

After years and years of yo-yo dieting, people often see the miracle solution as lap band or gastric bypass surgery.  It’s a great way to cut the weight.  Guess what? Now you have to eat well and exercise.

With records management you may be able to take the same route.  You know your accounting records only need to be kept for x years, then you could get rid of the rest.  There is no magic cure though, as new documents are created every day and they still need to be managed according to a records policy.

The Truth

Weight Watchers put it best, “You didn’t get over weight overnight.  Don’t expect to lose your weight it quickly either.”  Records retention must be a priority.  While new technologies may help, indexing of documents in accordance to records policy is the only way to ensure a proper records program.

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