Improving an active information management program is similar to trying to fix a plane while flying it.

You can’t turn off your organization’s access to information while you work from a clean slate.

To be certain, increasing efficiency and access without sacrificing control and security is a game of incremental improvement.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to tackle the next phase of your information management program, this post introduces the four Cs of information management along with four ways you can take your program to the next level.

Formalize and update your processes

Solid processes are at the heart of every successful business. That includes how to manage information across its lifecycle.

While updating or establishing processes may sound like a heavy lift, the exercise of mapping the whole view of the information lifecycle will help you understand what parts of the program need to be improved upon, outsourced, delegated, or eliminated.

To use a specific example, let’s use retention schedules. Your document management solution should have a dedicated field to track a record’s expiration date. As Access’ VP of Operational Excellence Joe Nadzam recently pointed out during a recent webinar, “Having a policy in place is one thing. Actually applying it to your records is another”.

According to Access’ internal client data, only a mere 5% of records in off-site storage have the disposition date field filled in. The vast majority (80%) don’t have the field populated at all.

The fix for this? Simply making the expiration date either a required field or something that is automatically applied. An automated retention schedule software can populate the information based on the laws and regulations that apply to that record.

Having comprehensive, legally defensible record retention schedules is only one part of the puzzle. The renowned father of modern business management Peter Drucker famously said, “what gets measured gets managed.” We’d like to offer a corollary that says “only processes that have been documented can be improved upon”.

You can’t improve when you don’t have all the data to make a full picture, and this brings us to our next point.

Incorporate digital tools and strategies

Information silos remain a huge challenge for organizations.

The pandemic has only exacerbated the pains of siloed information. As many companies have experienced in the last few years, when you have teams that are dispersed and working remotely, it doesn’t make sense to deliver a file to just one person when a whole team might need access. Instead, many organizations have implemented digital solutions to enable long-term benefits across their workforce. These are controlled systems that balance security and access no matter where your employees are located.

Regardless of your organization’s current work situation – remote, hybrid work, or a full return to the office – incorporating digital tools and strategies is vital to the long-term success of the business.

Otherwise, “you may not be seeing the whole picture of information; and this affects your accuracy,” said Jean Mackie, Vice President, Client Success at Access, while presenting on a recent webinar. The best solutions are capable of starting small and scaling up as the business need allows.

Use your footprint effectively

Jean Mackie also noted, “With current events and inflation right now, cost control and containment are vital to keep a hold on”.

One easy win for cost savings within your information management program can be found in your organization’s records room.

Specifically, are you keeping records in the most convenient, economical place? We’ve heard from many clients that they have significant investment in expensive, downtown commercial real estate that consists of 50% files and 50% office space, only used sporadically.

One important indicator you can look for when weighing the pros and cons of a change, is the difference in records retrieval rates before the pandemic versus now. According to Access’ clients, physical records being maintained within an office space have had less and less interaction because employees have naturally gravitated toward new, more efficient ways to work.

They are leaning more on digital documents that already exist and creating digital-first processes going forward.

Moving files off-site and reclaiming that space for revenue-generating activities, reducing the labor, administration, and retrieval times, while streamlining the transportation of physical records, can have positive rippling effects across your organization.

Conclusion

If you don’t have a digital component in your program or are unsure where to get started with your processes, there are 4 C’s to keep in mind: Compliance, Control, Cost Savings, and Collaboration.

To learn about these in more detail, as well as how to take control of your RIM program from the box and beyond, be sure to check out our information-packed webinar: From the Box and Beyond: The 4 Cs of Information Management.

Check out the webinar now