Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Information Management

A mind set change. A transformation. A Friend. A Better use of Limited Budgets.

Having just finished rereading a Chicago Tribune article entitled “Getting to Zero”, I remain perplexed about how aspirational information management really is. The article recounts the need for employees to get their work email inbox down to ZERO messages or as close as possible. In other words, having a clean inbox means that employees will “feel more organized and less stressed by the daily email avalanche”.   No doubt having fewer email messages to read frees up time.  But in order to have fewer emails to deal with, they either shouldn’t get directed your way to begin with or they have already been dealt with. I can’t make the business use of email go away. But, I can help get rid of the email clutter once it’s there.

A mind set change. For all records managers you will hate what I am going to say. Employees aren’t going to classify and code email messages according to their retention value and if they did, they would get it wrong most of the time.  Change your thinking because the way you think about the problem, even if intellectually correct is practically unreasonable. So while some email may have longer term value, the great preponderance of them has no on-going value after a very short period of time. For all of those messages, I want the system to blow them away right after they no longer are needed. That will make your email box volume go way down real quick. Maybe not zero, but way less. For the few messages that have on-going business value, there has to be a simple way to deal with those. While imperfect and contrary to what I once thought, email as a business communication needs to have one retention period that the system can manage without employee involvement.  Easy to implement and use. Imperfect for one of a kind content that truly has ongoing business value. 

A transformation. Transform a problem into a business solution and victory. Too much email means an unhappy employee, an overburdened email system; a workforce stretched thin, lower customer satisfaction, great private information risk, higher litigation response costs and risks, CIO budget wasted on storing extraneous digital data debris, etc.  If I can get rid of all email but the few with long term business or legal value then I will solve a whole bunch of problems contemporaneously. The thing most companies forget about is users’ needs, so give employees a place to temporarily house needed messages and prohibit messages from being stored outside that environment. 

Imagine a world with only a few emails. Imagine having a better relationship with employees, customers, email administrators and the CIO.