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  • Writer's pictureCraigRhinehart

Spring Cleaning for Information

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Spring Cleaning for Information

I find myself wondering (as I plan to clean out the garage today) what time of year we’re supposed to throw out all that unnecessary information we keep around. Since cleaning out the garage doesn’t qualify as fun in my book, it would sure be easier just to add space to my garage. That way, I’d never have to throw anything away. It would cost alot … and make it much harder to find important stuff among all of the clutter but it would be easier. Maybe I should just call a contractor rather than actually clean out the garage. Hhhmmm …

It’s funny that when it comes to this aspect of information management we seem to always take the path of least resistance. I’ve lost count of many times I’ve heard “storage is cheap” or other reasons why organizations don’t properly manage the lifespan of their information.  Most organizations don’t have a responsible program to properly dispose of electronically stored information. How is this possible when those same organizations usually have good control over and properly dispose of paper-based information?

The keep-everything-forever model has failed. 

Sure it’s harder to properly organize, retain and dispose of electronically stored information but the keep-everything-forever model has failed. Buying more storage is not the answer.  Storage already consumes (on average) 17% of IT budgets and information will continue to explode … eventually gobbling up increasing percentages of IT budgets. When does it end? It won’t by itself. Left unattended, this information explosion will eventually consume all remaining IT budget dollars and cripple or prevent any strategic investments by IT.

If that weren’t sobering enough, valued information is already buried beneath too much unnecessary information. Much of it is over-retained, irrelevant and duplicated. This is causing runaway storage and infrastructure costs and exacerbating power, space and budget challenges. It’s also creating an inability to find and produce critical information, especially under punitive scenarios and deadlines. How can anyone find and leverage the useful and trustworthy information lost among all the junk?

Time to organize?

This sounds exactly like my garage … the power went out the other night and I was desperate to find that really cool flashlight I bought last year in case of a power outage.  Couldn’t find it, which ended up being my motivation to clean out the garage and throw out all of the unnecessary stuff that is piling up. No garage extension for me! No offsite storage facility either! The fact is, I don’t want to spend more money on simply storing random unnecessary stuff. I have higher-value activities to spend my budget on … like golf 🙂

Isn’t it time every organization did their own information spring cleaning? It would reduce storage/infrastructure costs, improve the findability of information, reduce legal risks and increase the usefulness and re-use of information.

Maybe you are already planning to clean out your garage of enterprise information. Leave me your thoughts on the topic or visit us at the upcoming National Conference on Managing Electronic Records in Chicago.  We’ll be doing a special session on Content Assessment and how to use Content Analytics to identify and defensibly decommission and routinely dispose of unnecessary information.


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