Spreadsheets seem to be our go-to tool of choice for much of the work we do. But while it’s easy to set up, enter data and share, it’s not the right choice for doing many things – like managing retention policies.
Ken Lownie, COO of Everteam North America understands the challenges organizations face managing retention policies and wanted to show a better way to ensure these policies are not only managed but easily applied.
In the Everteam webinar, Are You Managing Data Retention Policies the Right Way, Ken walked us through the challenges with spreadsheets and outlined a better way to create, collaborate and manage retention policies, and we saw a demo of everteam.policy, Everteam’s policy management tool.
Here’s a quick recap of the webinar. You can also watch the replay on demand at the end of this blog.
The problem with spreadsheets for data retention policies
We all understand spreadsheets are easy to use. They are convenient, flexible and have a three-dimensional structure that makes it easy to have multiple sets of policies for different parts of the organization. But they also have major challenges:
- Multiple Copies: More often than not, there are multiple copies of a retention policy spreadsheet making it hard to know which one is the current one and the authoritative copy.
- Lack of Coordination: It can be very difficult to collaborate on policy definition using a spreadsheet.
- Lack of History: One of the most important things you need for effective policy management is the ability to have a history of policy changes. Spreadsheets don’t support history; they only have the current rules so there is no way to tell what rule may have been in place at a date in the past.
- No Access: As Ken says in the webinar, the key to effective governance is tying rules to actions. You can’t do that with a spreadsheet.
- Too Limited: Spreadsheets tie together retention periods and retention policies, nothing more, nothing less. But there’s much more to information governance as we all know well.
“Defensibility means knowing the rules in effect AT THE TIME OF THE ACTION.”
Enterprise Content Management is not the answer
If spreadsheets are too simplistic, then enterprise content management systems (ECM) are too complex. They cost a lot to purchase and implement, tend to be very complex to configure and often include with legacy systems and components. The ECM vendor forces you to work within their system only, and IT is typically needed to select and implement the right solution (and they often have more important fires to put out).
So what does a great policy management solution look like? Well, Ken offers 12 requirements that you should look for in a solution. I won’t go through them all here; you can get the details in the webinar, I’ll list them for quick reference:
- One single, shared version for the entire organization
- Authorized users contribute and collaborate within their domains, other users have read access
- Extremely easy to use
- Able to easily import existing lists of policies and rules
- Includes the ability to trace to relevant regulations (citations)
- Able to manage all types of governance policies, not just retention rules organization
- Able to define rules based on lifecycle stages
- Tracks versions to ensure defensibility
- Extremely fast and easy to implement and start with little IT dependency
- Not limited to the content in any one system – not an “internal” tool within an ECM system
- Able to be easily accessed by other software tools that handle enforcement
- Extendable to address classification, records management, archiving and disposition
The webinar ended with a quick demo by Esteban Felipe, Everteam’s Director, US Technology and Solutions of everteam.policy, a policy management solution for both retention and governance policies.
Watch the complete webinar to hear more from Ken and see the demo.