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Retaining corporate memory...or just fibrous wood pulp?

Just when you thought that paper was making its way to the museum of obsolete objects, somebody decided to clear out the basement!

Perhaps the basement once provided a cheap, quick and easy storage solution…’out of sight, out of mind’; although with many agencies facing backlogs of unsentenced records, the burden of excessive paper weighs heavily over time.

Ah yes, I hear you sigh…that old chestnut! But there’s a reason we have to keep revisiting this old chestnut – it’s still an issue! Our experience tells us that projects set up to sentence and dispose of information backlogs are still only being initiated when the agency is planning a move, budgets are strained, or the proverbial hits the fan. But as you probably well know (preaching to the converted) the financial and business costs will have already begun their march out the front door.

When delivering disposal courses, participants will often say to us “management should come along to this”, or “we just can’t get resources allocated to deal with the issue”. So here are some top tips for getting things moving before the proverbial…

1. Conduct a comprehensive information audit to identify the issues associated with your agency’s ever-increasing information holdings, identifying (as a minimum):

  • current information resource holdings (including records)

  • information repositorieso estimated material generated weekly/monthly/annually

  • quantities of inactive material

  • current storage costs, and

  • retrieval costs;

2. Assess implications and risks for the ongoing management of your agency’s information holdings, such as:

  • projected financial costs (storage, retrieval and management)

  • space inefficiencieso loss of business productivity

  • business inefficiencieso non-compliance;

3. Deduce the benefits of implementing a disposal program based on steps 1 and 2;

4. Prepare a comprehensive report/business case to management which clearly and concisely identifies these issues and offers a solution that is capable of realising tangible benefits (inclusive of a financial return that will outweigh the cost of the disposal program…or at least be cost neutral).

If the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) 2013 prediction that 'the total of all digital data created (and replicated) — will reach 4ZB in 2013’ is anything to go by (Gens, 2013), you might want to think again before you decide to put sentencing and disposal of digital information holdings on the back burner!


Gens, F. (2012). Top 10 predictions: competing on the 3rd platform. Retrieved from

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