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De-Christmasing and Information Lifecycle Management

In our house, one of the *favorite* days of the year is the day after Thanksgiving. First, the girls get great food and lots of family on Thanksgiving (so they’re going into the day after pretty happy). But the day after Thanksgiving? That’s the day that Christmas starts!

Decorate Christmas treeOur daughter, Natalie, believes that Christmas was pretty much made for her. She uses the root of her name as evidence—“natale” means Christ’s birthday. So on Black Friday when the rest of the world is shopping, we keep to our tradition:

  1. Drive out to The Christmas Tree Farm to find the perfect tree.
  2. Stop at Linda’s Bakery for some kickin’ rosettes, M&M cakes, and white-chocolate-dipped gingerbread boys.
  3. Decorate the house for Christmas.
  4. Make the Christmas baking list.
  5. Finish up by sleeping in front of the tree in sleeping bags.

It’s a great moment of peace before the crazy season takes over.

This year the season included family, friends, food, parties, choir and band concerts, and even a friend’s wedding. Great times.

But I—not the girls—are really ready for December 26. The Day of De-Christmasing. This day has none of the fanfare and treats of the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, it’s full of these tasks:

  1. Taking down the trees and wreaths and preparing them for recycling.
  2. Throwing out the broken ornaments and decorations.
  3. Tracking down the decorations now spread throughout the house and repackaging.
  4. Returning furniture to its proper place (making room for the tree is a spatial geometry feat!).
  5. Trashing all of the wrapping paper and packaging materials.
  6. Trashing the remaining baked goods…usually a few dried out sugar cookies are hiding somewhere.

This day re-establishes peace for the start of the new year.

How does any of this apply to information governance? Easy! We spend every day of the year accumulating information and using that information in new ways. (Big Data, anyone?) We fly fast and furious through the quarters of the year, bending this information in all kinds of new ways. We share information with new stakeholders and get new insights into information trends. Sounds a lot like the gifting and visiting that happens at Christmas.

With all of that activity, we need to apply the cathartic experience of De-Christmasing to our information. Notice the categories that De-Christmasing activities fall into:

  • Finding/assessing
  • Storing/archiving
  • Destroying

First: Find and assess. Find out which information you are using frequently for many different purposes. Is that information fit for all of those uses? Are those uses documented?

Second: Store and archive. Are you storing the information in a way to supply all of the newly discovered uses in a timely manner? With high availability? Which information is used infrequently, but is critically important when it IS used? (Do you know which holiday sweater your Aunt Adelia gave you, so you can wear it when she shows up for Christmas Eve? I digress…) Which information is nearing the end of its useful life?

Third: Destroy. Which information is no longer fulfilling a role of any value? Which information is past its shelf life (I’m looking at you, sugar cookie)?  What are the proper methods for destroying this information and yet still keeping with the rules/regulations of your company?

As the year starts, take the time to apply De-Christmasing principles to your information. Not just for your own sense of inner peace, but also because you could be open to legal action and fines for not following some of these practices.

SAP does have tools and services that can help with this process: SAP NetWeaver Information Lifecycle Management for Data Archiving, Retention Management, and System Decommissioning are great places to start.

Go. Cleanse.

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