Do this! Show professionalism, Build loyalty, Add revenue

April 27, 2016

By: Bob Johnson, NAID CEO

I am easily distracted. I was in the middle of writing a draft of the 3rd chapter of the forthcoming Information Disposition textbook on the problems associated with the creation of duplicate records when it occurred to me that it’s springtime. It also occurred to me that tax season just ended.

Duplicate records are those that are either direct copies or contain the same information as retained records that are subject to an organization’s records retention schedule. Since one of the reasons for having a records retention schedule is to eliminate information no longer needed, duplicate records are a pretty big problem because the information still exists.

Let’s say a company is served with a discovery order (technically it is a subpoena), which happens in just about any legal proceeding; often in audits too. Of course, any records were appropriately destroyed cannot be produced and everybody understands that.

But what if the sales manager squirreled away those same records unbeknownst to the organization. The organization just perjured its discovery response. Those duplicate records undermined one of the most important reasons for having the retention schedule in the first place.

As an information disposition professional, you have a great opportunity to help your client; to show you are more than just the owner of a piece of equipment.

It goes something like this…

Dear valued customer, as your information security professional we feel obligated to remind you that the paper and electronic records – email printouts, old computers, binders, duplicate forms and reports, etc. – that you and your colleagues may have collected over the past year have the very real potential of undermining your company’s records management and information security program. We are happy to explain further if you’d like.

As your secure destruction service provider, we have an easy solution. Think of it as a spring cleaning.  It’s not expensive and we can do it on our regular route.  In fact, not doing it could be much more expensive. Let me know if you want to discuss it. We simply felt it was our professional responsibility to bring this risk to your attention.

If they agree, you then prepare a communication for the customer’s employees, explaining that the organization has a policy against retaining duplicate copies of controlled records, even though they understand it happens naturally through the course of the year.  It also explains that they first week of next month, there will be extra bins for any paper records and separate bins for old electronics they don’t use anymore.

You might get a windfall if they have never done before, you might not. Regardless, however, you did your professional duty by bringing it to their attention. Raising the issue might put you on the radar of a higher level decision maker who appreciates that you have their back.