Information management is a whole lot more complicated than it used to be. In just a few decades, it has evolved rapidly from “What box is that record stored in?” to “Is that record physical or digital, and what system or location is it stored in?

That makes a records and information management (RIM) professional’s job much more complicated.

With the volume of information under their purview growing exponentially, companies and organizations find it increasingly challenging to improve records and information management without error.

In this post, we’ll review several pitfalls of information management that even the most comprehensive and effective RIM programs may be susceptible to, as well as some tips on how to avoid them.

Pitfall #1 – Adding “Bad” Information into Your Systems

With more and more systems to contend with and how easy it is to create new records; it can be very easy for records and information management professionals to lose track of how information is entering their systems in the first place. It might be through manual input, such as scanning a copy of a record that already exists in digital format or the migration of legacy data that is duplicative of information already in the system. This sort of extra noise can seriously hinder your employees’ ability to find the correct information— wasting time and costing the organization money.

How to Avoid This Pitfall:

The key to avoiding this information management pitfall is to ensure that your information is subject to a formal data governance policy. Conduct regular audits of your data to ensure it’s accurate, complete, and reflects the needs of your organization.

Pitfall #2 – Mishandling of Information

Mishandling information occurs when organizations fail to implement appropriate controls that ensure sensitive information is managed and protected effectively. A lack of controls can lead to data breaches, loss of intellectual property, and regulatory compliance issues.

How to Avoid This Pitfall:

Your records and information management program should account for consistent and regular training for all employees on how they’re supposed to handle and dispose of sensitive data. Likewise, it’s important to work with your IT teams to enact a zero-trust policy, which requires employees “to be authenticated, authorized, and continuously validated…before being granted or keeping access to applications and data.” (Source: Cloudstrike)

Pitfall #3 Over-Retaining Documents

Both globally and domestically, there has been a meteoric rise in privacy and retention legislation governing exactly how long certain types of information can be held. Making matters more complicated— regulations and citations can be extremely confusing and vague at times. Most organizations know that they can no longer fall back on indefinite retention and just keep documents forever. Even so, many organizations struggle with over-retention.

How to Avoid This Pitfall:

Make sure your records retention schedule and policy are well documented and updated regularly. To keep up with the constantly changing laws and regulations related to records disposition, your organization may want to consider a tool that does legal research for you.

If possible, ensure your records retention schedule can also be pushed into the various systems that house records and flag records that are up for disposition.

Pitfall #4 – Damage After Disasters

Disasters don’t often give a lot of notice before they strike. Many businesses are caught unprepared. Consider these statistics collected by FEMA and the US Small Business Administration:

Depending on the severity of the disaster, companies can lose access to records stored on-premises or be cut off from those stored in facilities that don’t have the proper backups in place.

How to Avoid This Pitfall:

Make sure your business continuity plans (BCPs) are well-defined and account for all types of disruptions or disasters that can affect your organization. This might include having a flood, hurricane, or fire response plan in place. That way, your team can continue to work to the best of its capabilities while the disaster is being responded to.

Pitfall #5 – Time & Efficiency Loss

According to McKinsey, employees spend almost 2 hours daily looking for the correct information or document. Over the course of a year, this adds up to nearly 10 days. Poor records and information management practices can lead to a continuous search for documents and delays in locating critical information, with the result being lost productivity.

How to Avoid This Pitfall:

Ensure all day-forward records have the proper metadata applied to them. If possible, automate this process to save your team time and resources. Likewise, having a centralized document repository can give a complete overview of what information is stored where.

Closing Thoughts

There’s no way to avoid (or even name) every pitfall that you may encounter with your records and information management program. However, with consistent information governance, training, and comprehensive policies in place, you can mitigate many of the risks that the organization may encounter from an information perspective.

To be even more prepared to face the challenges associated with managing an information management program, watch Navigating the Top Challenges in Records and Information Management. In this webinar, our panel of RIM experts explores some of the top challenges RIM professionals face and provides insights and strategies for addressing them.