Imagine it was your first day in a new job. Familiarising yourself with the facilities, introductions to new colleagues and learning about business processes will all be key parts of your first weeks in a new role. It's also likely you'll spend time finding your way around filing cabinets and IT systems, reviewing information and locating documents you need to do your job as effectively and efficiently as possible.
If the organisation you've joined has a solid information management process in place, this will be simple. If it doesn't, working life could quickly become a struggle, with time that could be spent working wasted on searching for information or waiting for others to provide you with access to documents you desire.
Recent research (1) we conducted shows this unfortunate scenario is a reality for many employees. It also highlighted a surge in time-consuming data retrieval requests, have placed a further strain on already over-stretched in-house IT teams.
The IT professionals who we spoke to as part of our survey revealed they are struggling to find a balance between helping staff use information and protecting it. This was coupled with year-on-year increases of up to 60 per cent in requests for data and rising data volumes, as staff creating too much data to be stored on individual PCs.
They also cited the need to restrict data access in order to bolster data protection and security, with many staff not being permitted to keep copies of business critical information. This is an issue that many of you may have faced, meaning you must formally request access to centrally stored information, which is then provided on a limited, read-only basis.
Add to this the high number of document retrieval requests, company growth and human error, such as accidental deletion, forgetting to save documents, and the loss or theft of personal mobile devices. It's worth remembering too not all retrieval requests are internal either. A telecommunications firm we spoke with has several thousand employees, and told us its data retrieval requests mainly come from law enforcement agencies looking for user call details to support criminal investigations.
Whilst restrictions are needed, the impact on your job and your employer's growth are key factors. As a company grows, so will its staff and the need to have access to the right information at the right time. I believe that tiered information storage is the answer: defining what is most used, most critical and most confidential, as well as what is essentially dormant, and then structuring storage, access and back-up process accordingly. Your workplace should keep high value, highly active documents readily available, but relegate more archival and other types of information to more economical forms storage.
So spare a thought for your poor IT team next time you ask them to find an email you deleted three weeks ago - you're not the only one demanding their time!
(1) Opinion Matters for Iron Mountain, April 2014. Ten interviews were conducted with IT professionals in each of the UK, France, Germany, Spain and The Netherlands, representing the manufacturing, healthcare, telecommunications, financial services, professional services, hospitality, media and broadcasting, advertising, retail and software sectors, with between 50 and 10,000 employees.