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A responsible approach to information lifecycle management

Enterprises generate and retain such a large volume of data that effective information governance may seem impossible. To ease the pressure, can we prevent information growth from spiraling out of control in the first place?

Be proactive. Don't be reactive. That's advice from Deborah Juhnke, director of information management consulting at Husch Blackwell LLP. At the 2014 AIIM Conference in Orlando, Fla., Juhnke said the management and disposal stages of the information lifecycle won't be so overwhelming if organizations apply responsible governance philosophies from the get-go. 

"We have all been given technologies and tools for the last 20 years and told, 'Go forth and create,' and there's been very little guidance as to how to do that or what to do with the information," she said.

Rather than finding new ways to squirrel away information in email archives and in the cloud, Juhnke advised that organizations take a step back and do the following:

Disrupt processes that generate excess information. Juhnke suggested cutting down on email subscriptions and combining frequent company-wide emails from various departments into a single missive. "Let's not just think about what we have; let's think about what we're creating," she said. "Why are we doing this?"

Encourage user accountability. The approach is effective only if responsibility is pushed down to users, which some information management professionals see as a recipe for disaster. But "the fact is, we have to count on the users if we're going to solve this problem,” Juhnke said. And at organizations where individual responsibility is not rewarded, users can't take the full blame for neglecting to control their data creation. Encouraging users and giving them incentives is essential to changing a culture of reckless information creation, she emphasized.

Don't spend on technology right away. Juhnke acknowledged that technology has its place in responsible information lifecycle management. For example, SharePoint enables users to store information on sites rather than putting it in the body of an email and replicating it repeatedly. But getting the processes and culture of responsible information management in place comes first -- or technology implementations are doomed to fail.

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