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Common Misconceptions About ROT (Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial) Data

Further to our previous blog discussing the benefits of clearing out your ROT and explaining why it’s important to start thinking about it, this article is answering some of the common misconceptions surrounding the issue

Louise Ozier

03/08/2017

​​1.       My company has no ROT!
 
You know that your compliance manager has put in endless policies to ensure that all employees are informed of what is relevant and when they should be saving documents. You think you have ticked the box and all your staff are following the process.  The reality is that employees are hoarders.  It includes everything from anything to emails, photos and HR records. They worry that they won't be able to find something instantly so they save it to their desktop. They then set up a new folder on their "O" drive for all their personal photos and articles that they want to keep; just in case they might need it one day. Multiply this by the number of employees you have and you suddenly have a big problem. There are lots of horrifying statistics that you can find on the net with case studies of companies finding up to 70-80% of their stored data is ROT.  

 

2.        I have invested in special hardware that detects duplicates!
 
Whilst this is in part true, this type of hardware will only solve part of the problem.  It won't handle documents that are earlier versions, trivial items, or policy documents that are out of date.

 

3.       My organisation has been operating well for years without having to think about ROT!
 
This may be the case but just because you haven't thought about it before today doesn't mean it's a good business decision to not starting thinking about it. Why wouldn't you want to make your business more productive and operate more smoothly? Excess ROT means you are paying more for your data storage. Your employees spend more time searching for important data reducing their productivity and it fills up search results and data libraries. If an employee leaves they leave their ROT too, putting obstacles in the way of retrieving data for the employees they have left behind. Whose responsibility is it in your organisation to delete all unnecessary data when an employee leaves?

4.       Data storage costs are part of our running costs and there's no point worrying about it!
 
Data storage costs are an unavoidable running cost as most organisations can't live without it. The costs don't stop with just the storage of the data but include managing it, backing it up and if your servers are on premise you have added cooling costs and electricity bills to think about. There are some amazing statistics on the net that show that when IT companies have gone in to "sort out" unmanageable systems that up to 80% of data has been ROT. Slashing your running costs by 80% suddenly becomes a bit more attractive.

 

5.       It's too difficult and time consuming to get rid of the ROT!

In most organisations, it's down to the end user to get rid of their ROT. Unfortunately, the reason the ROT exists in the first place is down to the end user so it is unlikely they will be able to rectify it. Don't forget, as already mentioned in the first paragraph, they are hoarders. Tackling ROT is easy; all you need is key decision makers that can identify the ROT and then use the correct technology to identify, process and remove it.

 

6.       I don't need to worry about ROT till the new GDPR comes in next year!
 
It might seem like ages away but at the time of writing this it's only 304 days away! Take out the weekends and it's 218 days away and this isn't including bank holidays and closure of businesses at time like Christmas. The GDPR is an excellent incentive to get your data house in order. The excellent news is that many customers who have already moved their data to the cloud are already on the way to addressing the problem of non-essential data. This is due to them addressing the problem already when migrating their data to the cloud. IT consultancies ensure that the data is analysed prior to migration and reports are then given to key decision makers to generate policies to delete the ROT. Data can be analysed according to age of the document, author, type, health references and many more.

 

7.       How do I know if I will ever need that piece of data again! Getting rid of ROT makes me nervous!
 
This is where senior management need to make decisions in line with their policies. Policies not there? Put them in place. Deleting data makes people nervous but if you have robust policies in place you can be confident that the data can be searched using metadata against the parameters you choose. Do you really need past employee HR records? Do you need the earlier versions of every document that is produced? Do you want your databases clogged up with your staff's personal photos and music downloads? Do you want to keep marketing lists that are ten years old? Or 7 years old? Do you need old branding logos and documentation? The list goes on and on. Once you start thinking about it in smaller manageable chunks, the decisions become obvious and less nerve racking. Be confident in your policies and you will become confident in the documents and records that are managed by your organisation.
 

If you have any further questions on this article or the subject of ROT call Fuse on 01604 797979 or email fuse@fusecollaboration.com


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