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Hoarders:
How
 to
Change
the
 ‘Keep
Everything’
Attitude
 That’s
 Drowning 
 Your 
 Company

Hoarders:
How
 to
Change
the
 ‘Keep
Everything’
Attitude
 That’s
 Drowning 
 Your 
 Company 


Mauricio
Perry,
CRM,
ERM m

On
TV,
we
 see
 the
 series
“Hoarders, ” 
 which
for
most
viewers
is
 not 
 an 
 everyday
 experience.
However,
in
the
business
environment,
many
organizations
behave
 exactly
that
way.
Because
classifying
documents
and
getting
rid
of
 data 
 useless
 to 
 the
organization
requires
a
commitment
in
time
and
 resources
 (human 
 and 
 financial), 
 the
 path 
 of
 least 
 resistance
 is
 to 
 “keep 
 everything. ”
That
tendency
is
 exacerbate d
by
the
continual
decline
in
the
cost
of
digital
storage
(more
about
this
 later).
The
net
result
is
a
situation
where
 finding
a
particular
document
or
 ‐‐ 
 in
 the
 case
 of
 litigation 
 ‐‐ 
conducting
e ‐ discovery, 
becomes
an
exercise
akin
to
finding
a
 needle
in
 a
haystack. 
This
decision
to
“keep
everything”
is
as
irrational
as
the
 opposite
one
of
“destroy
everything.” 


So
 w hat
is
a
balanced
approach?
The
time
tested,
legally
 accepted
process
of
pre‐ determined
retention
and
eventual
disposition
of
records.
 In
a
sen se,
it
is
a
 preemptive
culling
of
non ‐ records.
Certainly,
 this
is
easier
said
than
done
both
from
 the
perspective
of
convincing
upper
level
management 
and
actually
instituting
a
 retention
process.





 Getting 
 hoarders 
 to 
 see
 the
 light

Let’s
first
address
the
process
of
convincing
the
executives.
Any
records
manager
 intuitively
knows
that
 it
is
easier
to
manage
the
 few
 relevant
 documents
if
 they
 are
 not 
 commingled
 with 
 many 
 irrelevant
ones.
 For
IT
folks,
 budget
constraints,
 resources
constraints,
competing
projects,
and
the
lack
of
view
of
the
“greater
 picture”
may
also
cloud
their
judgment.
It
is
true
that
 these
days,
hard
drive
storage
 is
 cheaper
 than 
 ever
 before.
 However
 that 
 figure
 alone 
 does
 not 
 take 
 into 
 account 
 other
 significant
 costs
 like 
 electricity,
 refrigeration
 for
 data 
 centers,
 cost
 of
 co‐ locations, 
 back ‐ ups, 
 storage
 of
 back ‐ up 
 tapes, 
 and 
 of
 course,
 personnel
 to 
 handle 
 the
 increased
 volume 
 of
 data 
 and 
 all 
 the
 incremental 
 hardware
 needs.
 


The
other
 group
 is
 the
 lawyers 
 themselves.
 Some
 have
 embraced
 the
 digital 
 cu lture
 and
feel
at
ease
with
 the
likes
of
 Twit ter. 
O thers
 still
ask
their
administrative
 assistants
to
print
their
e ‐ mail
because
they
do
not
feel
comfortable
using
a
 comput er,
let
alone
a
 smartphone.
 


With
all
these
groups , 
 t he
task
of
convincing
reluctant
“keep
everything”
types
will
 fall
on
those
 who
 already 
 see
 a 
 better 
 way 
 of
 conducting 
 business.
In
any
case,
the
 agreement
and
commitment
of
 upper
level
management 
is
a 
 “sine
 qua 
 non” 
 requirement
 and 
 should
 be 
 communicated
 throughout 
 the
 organization.


4

To
get
buy ‐ in
 from
 any 
 executive, 
 we 
 must 
 speak 
 their


To
get
buy ‐ in
 from
 any 
 executive, 
 we 
 must 
 speak 
 their
 language :
dollars
and
cents.
 How
much
overhead
can
be
saved
by
prudently 
spending
on
deployment
of
records
 management
software?
How
much
 money
 will 
 be 
 saved
 by 
 spending
 less
 time 
 searching
 for
 records, 
 not 
 to 
 mention 
 by 
 actually 
 finding
 them?
How
much
money
 can
be
saved
 during
litigation
by
having
a
smaller
 and
more
relevant
 set
 of
 documents
 to 
 be 
 reviewed
 by 
 highly 
priced
lawyers?
 


In 
 situations 
 like 
 this, 
lawyers
are
natural
allies
of
the
records
mana ger.
 The
 corporate
counsel
is
 in
 a 
 unique 
 position
 to 
 convince
 the
 powers‐ that ‐ be 
 of
 the
 wisdom
 of
 a 
 well 
 thought ‐ out 
records
manage ment 
 system.


Putting 
 a 
 plan
 in
 place


Let’s
 suppose
 we 
 have
 the
green
light ,
 however
 reluctant , 
to
institute
a
retention
 program. 
Where
do
we
start? 
We
start
by
understanding
the
lifecycle
of
a
record.
 Records, 
 no
 matter 
 the
 medium,
are
created,
used,
maintained,
stored
and,
 eventually ,
 disposed
 of.


The
first
step
in
implementing
an
effective
retention
policy
 is
to
create
a 
 records 
 inventory 
 to 
 find
 out 
 what 
 kinds
 of
electronic
and
paper 
records
the
 organization
 has,
 is
currently
creating , 
or
has
created
in
the
past . 
 This
 should
 be 
 done
 department 
 by 
 department 
in
a
s ystematic
way . 
 


Once
we
know
what
records
we
have,
 we
need
 to
develop
a
 records 
 retention 
 schedule. 
 That 
 is, 
 we 
 must 
 find
 out 
 how
 long 
 we 
need
to 
 keep 
 the
 records
 to
comply
 with
 statute s
 and 
regulation s
(including
tax )
 at 
 the
federal,
state
 and 
local 
level s.
 Specific
statutes
of
limitations
must
be
considered.
 Organizations
 conducting 
 businesses
 internationally 
 must 
replicate 
this
step 
for
each
country
they
do
business
 in.
Once
the
legal
aspects
are
covered,
 the
 particular 
 business
 of
 the
 organization
 must 
 be 
 considered. 
 Therefore, 
it
is
important
to
gather
information
from
industry
 groups
to
see
what
is
usual
and
customary
for
that
particular
indu stry.
Finally , 
the
 actual
users
of
the
records
must
be
asked
for
how
long
 they
 are
 used
 to 
 identify
 the
 consequences
of
not
having
 them. 


At
this
point,
it
must
be
clarified
that
a
records
retention
schedule
does
not
 discriminate
 by 
 medium:
it
applies
to
paper,
as
well
as
Word
documents,
e ‐ mail,
 and
 physical 
 products. 


Compiling
 a 
 records
 retention
 schedule
 for
 medium‐ to time 
 consuming, 
so
it
is
prudent
 to 
 engage 
 specialized


rule 
 of
 thumb , 
 as
 long 
 as
 the
 schedule
 is
 in
 alignment 
 with 
 legal 
 requirements,
 the


shorter
 the
 retention
period, 
 the
 better. 
 The
retention
schedule
must
be
approved
at
 the
highest
levels
of
the
organization
and
by
the
legal
counsel. 


‐ large 
 organizations
 is
 very
 consultants 
 at 
 this
 stage .
 As
 a 


Here,
a
clear
picture
of
 the
records
retention
schedule
begins
to
 emerge,
 usually
in
a
 table
 that
 state s,
for
example,
that
 “ minutes
of
the
Compliance
Committee
must
be


4

kept
for
 X 
years
and
then
disposed” 
or
that
 “e xpense
receipts
must
be
kept
for
 Y

kept
for
 X 
years
and
then
disposed” 
or
that
 “e xpense
receipts
must
be
kept
for
 Y 
 years
after
closure
of
tax
year
and
then
disposed.” 
 


Records
managers
usually
refer
to
disposition
rather
than
to
 destruction
becau se
 there
 are
 several
 methods
 of
 getting 
 rid
 of
 records:
 donating 
 to 
 an 
 institution 
 like 
 a 
 museum 
 or
 library, 
 establishing 
 a 
 company 
 museum, 
 and 
 of
 course,
 destruction.
 Let
 it 
 be 
 clear:
 destruction
 implies
 simultaneous ly 
rendering
unreadable
all
copies
of
a 
 record,
whether
 paper
(e.g.
by
shredding)
or
electronic
(e.g.
by
overwriting
multiple


passes
of
0s
and
1s)
in
all
repositories
(C
drives,
network
drives,
flash
drives,
back‐

up
tapes,
etc.) 


Pr escribing
a
method
for
disposal
 


The
process
by
which
records
are
 disposed
must
be
described
in
a
 Standard
 Operating 
 Procedure,
or
SOP.
 Every
 three‐ to ‐ six
 months,
 p eriodic
 disposition
 campaigns 
 for
 expired
 records
 should
 be 
 conducted
 and 
 documented
 as
 a 
 regular 
 business
 process.
 Destruction
 of
 records
 must 
 be 
 explicitly 
 documented
 through
 a 
 signed
 and 
 dated
 Certificate
 of
 Destruction.
 This
 certificate
 will 
 be 
 proof,
 in
 case
 of
 a 
 lawsuit, 
 that 
 particular 
 records
 have
 been 
 destroyed
 in
 the
 regular 
 course
 of
 business.


The
guiding
idea
is
that
disposition
must
be
a
normal
part
of
the
business
of
the
 organization.
It
should
not
be
arbitrary
 or
prompted
by
fear
of
litigation. 
The
rule
of
 thumb
for
organizations
that
 have
never
 disposed
 of
 any 
 records
is
 one‐ third
 should
 remain
 a ctive,
one‐ third
 should
 be 
 sent
 to 
 long ‐ term
storage
and
 one‐ third
 should
 be
disposed.

Once
we
know
what
needs
to
be
kept,
the
next
step
is
to
file
the
records
 in
a
 dedicated
repository.
Ideally,
it
will
be
a
software
application
that
complies
with
an
 appropriate
standard.
Two
of
those
standards
are
the
US
 Department
of
Defense’s
 DoD5015.2
and
the
Mo del
 Requirements
 for
 the
 Management 
 of
 Electronic
 Records
 (MoReq)
published
by
the
European
 Commission. 
There
are
many
commercial
 software
packages
th at
 have
features
to
 comply
with
these
standards.
Some
of
these
 features
relate
to
records
holds,
compiling
lists
of
candidates
for
disposition,
 classification
 according
 t o
 a 
 pre‐ established
 taxonomy 
(see
below) ,
 searches
by
 metadata
fields,
 security
roles,
etc. 


Of
course,
personnel
should
be
trained
and
re‐ should
be 
 periodically
 audited
 for
 compliance.

trained
as
necessary,
and
the
system


The
 records
 could 
be
kept
in
a
sha

the
dedicated
features
of
specialized
software,
the
 process
 of
 keeping 
 things
 running 
 smoothly
 w ould 
b e
 more
 labor 
 intensive
 and 
 more
 prone
 to 
 costly 
 errors.


red
drive
or
a
SharePoint
installation. 
 B ut
without


4

Questioning 
 ‘the
 cloud’ 
 S ome
software
packages

Questioning 
 ‘the
 cloud’ 


S ome
software
packages 
keep
the
records
within
the
organization’s
network 
 (that 


is, 
behind
the
firewall ), 
but
some
offer
the
service
of
keeping
them
in
the
 “ cloud . ”
 That
in
 itself
poses
another
set
of
questions.
Where
will
the
records
be
kept?
Under
 what 
 jurisdiction?
 The
US ? 
 India ? 
China?
 If
in
a
 foreign
jurisdiction,
 what 
privacy
 laws
apply
to
them?
 Are
the
records
backed‐ up?
Where
are
the
backups?
 What
will
 happen
 to
the
records
if
 the
 provider
 goes
 bankrupt? 
 Are
 the
 records
 kept 
 in
 an 
 encrypted
 form?
 Are
 they
 encrypted
 at 
 t he
 server
 farm
 or
 are
 they
 already 
 encrypted
 while 
 being 
 transmitted? 
Will
they
really
be
destroyed
when
expired?
All


these
risks
need
to
be
judiciously
weighed
by
the
organization
before
trusting
their


records
 to 
 another
 party. 


Records
need
to
be
filed
in
 an 
 organized
 and 
 logical 
 manner
 that 
 will 
 speed
 their
 retrieval
 when 
 needed.
 This
 is
 true
 both 
 for
 paper
 and 
 electronic
 records.
 There
 are
 several
 tool s
to
organize
the
records:
controlled
vocabularies, 
 thesauri,
 taxonomies ,
 etc.
These
tools
have
some
characteristics
in
common
and 
are
of
increased
 complexity.
It
is
self
evident
that
if
all
people
involved
 speak
the
same
language,
 communication
 would 
be
easier.
For
 example, 
 a 
contract
is
a
contract
but
it
can
also
 be
called
 an
 agreement,
covenant,
etc.
A
co ntrolled
vocabulary
will
allow
contracts
 to
be
classified
only
under
whatever
 term
the
organization
chooses
to
call
them.
A
 thesaurus,
on
the
other
hand,
will
 also 
 cross‐ reference
the
synonym
terms,
and
a 
 taxonomy 
will
provide
a
logical
structure
to
classi fy
contracts
in
any
way
that
makes
 sense
to
the
 organization
 ‐‐ 
for
instance,
by
vendor, 
 service, 
or
 geographical 
 area. 


When
the
moment
comes
to
institute
a
records
hold,
 the
legal
team
 not
only
 needs
 to
inform
top 
executives
 but 
 also 
 the
 records
 manager 
 and 
IT . 
 These
 people 
 will 
 then 
relay
that
information
to
the
most
likely
custodians
of
the
records. 
 


S tandards‐ compliant
records
management
software
will
not
allow
the
disposition
of


records
that
are
flagged 
 as
 part 
 of
 a 
 records
 hold.
 S ince
 these
non ‐ record
files
are
 not 
 entered
in
the
software
database,
 the
search
results
will
be
faster
and
more
 meaningful.
 The
 hoarding
habit
will
be
 a 
 thing 
 of
 the
 past . 


About
 the
 author 
 Mauricio
Perry
is
Quality
Assurance
Application
Manager
at
CSL
 Plasma
 in
South
Florida.
He
has
more
than
16
years
of
experience
 managing
records
and
electronic
data
for
various
organizations,
and
 was
 formerly
a
board
member
of
the
West
Palm
Treasure
Coast
 Chapter
of
ARMA.
Previously,
he
worked
as
the
Document
Control
 Coordinator
for
Nabi.
He
is
a
Certified
Records
Manager,
a
Certified
 Quality
Engineer ,
an
Electronic
Records
Management
master,
and
a
Licensed
 Chemist.
 


Quality
Engineer ,
an
Electronic
Records
Management
master,
and
a
Licensed
 Chemist.
 
 
 4

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