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Blog The Principles

The Disposition Principle talks about just that – disposing of those records that are no longer needed after being held for an appropriate amount of time. It also speaks to migration of records to a new media if applicable. This would be appropriate if for instance the records were stored on CD’s or DVD’s since those media can deteriorate over time and become unreadable. The word archival is used in disposition as well. For those of you that don’t know archival (although often used in IT terms related to backup systems) in the records and information management world it is about records of historical value that should be preserved for future generations.

There is not a director of IT that I have talked to that wouldn’t be exceptionally happy with the ability to appropriately destroy electronic information that lives on shared drives throughout their Corporation. E-mail servers are experiencing exponential growth as well. Virtually all of the clients we have without solutions are keeping most of their electronic information indefinitely because there are no enforceable rules in place for appropriate disposition of the information. What I further hear from IT is “tell us what the rules are and we will get rid of it”.

Yet another reason for a records and information management program in the Corporation.

Not surprisingly, number 1 in the Maturity Model says that we don’t know how to do disposition. The more important point is that we don’t know how to do a legal hold if there is litigation. Did you know that you actually need a process for that so if there is litigation you can stop folks from destroying the information required by that litigation? If you don’t stop them, and they do destroy it, there will most likely be consequences.

Number 2 says that we have preliminary guidelines for disposition. We understand how important it is to put legal holds on records when required but we don’t exactly enforce consistent disposition of records nor do we audit that it is being done. This position might not look really bad but let me tell you that if you have a retention and disposition schedule and don’t enforce it that the courts are not happy with you when the rubber meets the road.

Number 3 in this Principle (the level we need to be at) indicates that we have developed policy and procedures for disposition and also for suspending disposition but that may not be across the corporation. We have corporate goals though for going forward.

Number 4 says that we are doing great. We have policies, understand them, folks are doing what is supposed to happen across the corporation. Great spot to be in.

Number 5 indicates that senior management is happy with our efforts and that we are doing this disposition across all platforms in the corporation. Personally I believe that we would have needed an electronic solution by Number 3 in order to accomplish an orderly disposition of information. To do this manually without an enterprise wide solution would be virtually impossible. Our experience is that in many cases, even with a solution, the appointed individuals that are supposed to do disposition will not always pull the trigger in the end since they are not positive about the process or the solution in place.

This is the last principle but rest assured more information will follow on many different topics to assist you in your information management mission.