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Survey: Gaps in Accountability, Commitment and Practice Threaten Records and Information Management Compliance

While many organizations claim to have strong records and information management (RIM) programs in place, a look behind-the-scenes reveals many lack fundamental building blocks, like measurement and employee engagement and training. Those gaps keep organizations from realizing RIM program cost savings and leave them vulnerable to information exposure and fines from non-compliance with customer, industry or federal regulations and standards. These and other findings are at the heart of a comprehensive benchmark survey published jointly today by Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM), the storage and information management company; Cohasset Associates, a consulting firm specializing in document-based information management; AIIM, a global non-profit organization that provides independent research, education and certification programs to information professionals; and ARMA, a not-for-profit professional association and an authority on information governance.

Information can be a competitive advantage or an Achilles heel of risk and cost. With records continuing to grow in both volume and format, from paper records to electronic records like emails and social media data, the challenges to managing all of it have never been greater. More than 1,300 records and information professionals responded to this joint survey, providing a wide-ranging assessment of the practice of RIM and a benchmark for organizations to measure themselves against.

As evidenced by the data points below, a majority of organizations (87 percent) have a RIM governance program in place but are missing those key pieces that define a measurable, effective program. To help close the gaps, Iron Mountain has identified several opportunities for records managers to improve their programs and advance their organization:

How effective is your RIM program?

  • Only 17 percent of respondents say they have the ability to conduct internal audits and assess regulatory compliance for their programs.
  • Just 8 percent have metrics in place to measure effectiveness and guide program improvement.

Opportunities: Know which customer, industry or regulatory requirements you need to report on. Have a strategy to ensure compliance and monitoring at all levels of the organization. If you store records off-site with a vendor, communicate your standards and that your measurement requirements. And report on those metrics and standards regularly so you’re ready for an external audit by a customer or regulator.

Are employees aware and engaged in your RIM program?

  • Only 7 percent of respondents report that their employees – the largest group of records-makers and keepers – are engaged and supportive of their programs.
  • Just 28 percent of organizations have RIM programs reporting into their compliance and legal departments.

Opportunities: To drive better engagement, set up regular training and other easy-to-access employee touch-points. Engage with partners in human resources or corporate communications to create awareness and leverage low-tech tools like flyers and posters with short but compelling RIM educational content, graphics or tips.

Are you maximizing efficiency in your RIM processes and policies?

  • Only 8 percent of organizations have an automated process for identifying destruction-eligible records, increasing the possibility of loss from inadvertent exposure or theft.
  • Three-quarters (75 percent) say this lack of automation is one of the biggest hurdles to an efficient and defensible retention/destruction program, while 64 percent cite an inability to break the “keep everything” culture of their organization.

Opportunities: Consider using automated tools to either fully classify records or provide user assistance to identify record types and assign them to the right retention schedule. If you store records off-site with a vendor, leverage those tools to calculate destruction eligibility and act on it, making sure to connect retention rules with what is being stored.

“This survey shows that organizations remain committed to making records and information management a priority, but some important gaps still remain,” said Sue Trombley, managing director of thought leadership for Iron Mountain. “Information management, when done right, can push your business ahead and be a strategic lever for success. But until you achieve buy-in at all levels of the organization, master fundamentals like timely destruction, and implement a system to monitor program effectiveness, the sought-after benefits will remain elusive. You will also have to transition away from paper-based processes to manage the complexities of electronic records. Mature, well-run RIM programs have all of these things, plus the ability to adapt as information grows and changes. Organizations that embrace new thinking and adopt proven practices will be able to elevate their records and information programs and realize what we deem an ‘information advantage.’ ”

For further insight from Iron Mountain’s Sue Trombley on the report, read her Information Advantage blog post discussing the survey results. And to see the full survey report, as well as more proven practices, market insights and research on records and information management, visit www.ironmountain.com/thoughtleadership.

About Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM) is a leading provider of storage and information management services. The company’s real estate network of over 64 million square feet across more than 1,000 facilities in 36 countries allows it to serve customers with speed and accuracy. And its solutions for records management, data management, document management, and secure shredding help organizations to lower storage costs, comply with regulations, recover from disaster, and better use their information for business advantage. Founded in 1951, Iron Mountain stores and protects billions of information assets, including business documents, backup tapes, electronic files and medical data. Visit www.ironmountain.com for more information.

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