Downsize your information: How to do it and why
How Do You Eliminate the Existing Problem?
Ask any 100 employees, "If you had the time, are there papers and files in your office you could comfortably toss?" 99 of them will answer, "Yes,” but who goes to work and says "Well, I don't have anything better to do today. I think I'll clean out the files!" And if they do, most likely someone will say, "What are you doing? We've got to finish that project!”
Companies are often faced with the problem of hundreds and even thousands of boxes of "archives" in storage rooms or offsite locations. When management finally realizes the cost and the risk, they decide they have to do something. By then, the people who created the paper are long gone, and current employees have little energy for making decisions about something that doesn't affect their ability to leave work at 5:30 p.m.
How Do You Prevent It From Happening Again?
While there is no "quick fix" for years of postponed decisions, avoiding the problem in the future is significantly easier. Making a clean-out day an annual event in every organization is essential.
Another simple step to preventing information clutter is eliminating unnecessary duplication of information by implementing "The Originator's Rule:” Whoever generates a document is responsible for its retention. Instead of five people on a project keeping everything, one person should be responsible for the master file. Other people can choose to keep a copy, but will not do so by default because they are afraid to throw it away.
If you don’t already have them, create user-friendly records-retention guidelines and ensure that employees understand and implement them. If you’re not sure how to do it, hire a consultant to help you.
If you want your company to be on the cutting-edge of information management, reduce costs, improve productivity, and minimize liability, identify an employee who will be responsible for overseeing the management of information.
Paper Versus Digital
Companies that manufacture portable electronic devices admit that one the biggest requests of users is printing capability. The portability of paper often makes it more desirable. A printout of a complex e-mail message, which requires thinking and conversations in meetings, and results in handwritten notes, is frequently far more valuable than the original electronic document. On the other hand, the ability to send information electronically, and let the user determine when and if to print it out, offers the best of both worlds.