Downsize your information: How to do it and why
Statistics and experience demonstrate that 80 percent of what we have we never use. In a time when businesses desperately need to reduce costs and increase productivity, keeping “information clutter” makes no sense. Consider these statistics:
A company that employs 1,000 information workers can expect more than $5 million in annual salary costs to go down the drain because of the time wasted looking for information and not finding it, according to a study by IDC.
A survey of 1,000 middle managers say they spend two hours a day searching for information and 50 percent of the information they find is of no value to them, according to a study by Accenture.
The computer, while originally touted as the ultimate organization tool, has, in reality, allowed us to generate information as never before. In many cases, it has simply increased our ability to create a mess! Whether it’s paper or electronic clutter, the results are the same. Being overloaded with disorganized information costs money, causes unnecessary stress, precipitates poor customer service, and ultimately results in loss of income to the company.
How Does It Happen?
In recent years, a big contributor to information clutter has been people leaving the organization. Few companies have a process in place for assimilating the paper or electronic information left behind by departing employees. Digging through the paper or computer files of a past employee for a crucial document is not appealing to anyone and usually doesn’t happen, so time and money are spent recreating the information.
Unnecessary duplication is a big factor in poorly managed information. Not only does it take up unnecessary space, it creates unnecessary risk of legal liability. In addition, if there are multiple copies of the same document, how can you be sure the document you are retrieving days, weeks, months or even years later, is the most recent? Can your company really afford the space information clutter requires—or the time wasted while people sort through outdated documents?
How many people do you know who have received training on how to manage information? When you think about it, that’s truly ironic, since the ability of an employee to accomplish any task or goal is directly related to their ability to find the information they need when they need it.
Employees’ fear of discarding information—whether it’s in a paper or digital format—is enormous. Whether it's the fear of not being knowledgeable in one's field of expertise, or the fear of being asked by a superior to produce information, the results are the same: overstuffed filing cabinets and hard drives and information clutter!