Chief among the report's findings is that whilst many organisations (80 percent) have command of the basics for managing physical records, less than one in four (23 percent) have established policies that cover electronic records " e-mail, images and other forms of digital data. This disparity is further complicated by several macro trends: the explosive growth of electronic information; growing consumer concern about how their data is protected; the expanding regulatory environment governing records management; and heightened litigation demands.
"In our mission to help businesses solve information management challenges, we have developed a unique perspective on how companies should approach managing records," said Bob Brennan, president and CEO, Iron Mountain. "Simply put, managing records is about managing risk. The organisations who understand this have developed enterprise-wide programmess that provide them quick access to information, manageable storage costs, and peace of mind that they've made good-faith efforts to comply with increasing regulatory requirements."
Iron Mountain's Compliance Benchmark Report surveyed almost 3,500 individuals within public, private, government and non-profit organisations across varying industries and sectors to assess the state of records management compliance. Whilst the majority of the respondents were based in the US, a large portion of them represented international operations. The company publishes the report, in part, to provide a benchmark for its customers and other organisations to assess, improve and mature their records management programmes.
Key findings of the Compliance Benchmark Report include:
Sixty-four percent of companies are committed to improving their records management programmes. The majority of organisations surveyed have only basic records management programmes in place. These include formal records policies and procedures, retention schedules, offsite storage of critical backup tapes and hard copy records, and systems for rapid records retrieval. These basics constitute the underpinnings of any compliant records management programme; companies looking to go further need to consider polices and procedures for electronic records, employee training and compliance auditing.
Companies with the strongest records management practices employ formal programmes governed by multi-disciplinary teams across the organisation. These organisations tend to be larger companies in more highly regulated industries or those that have faced trigger events like a compliance audit or litigation fine. They effectively use cross-functional steering committees to set guidelines and company-wide policies for records management compliance. Those with less mature records management programmes tend to be smaller and have not experienced trigger events to compel them to establish formal programmes.
Fifty-four percent of organisations surveyed use an enterprise-wide retention schedule for the proper preservation and destruction of information. A records retention schedule, a guide for how long organisations must store information before destroying it, provides the blueprint for compliant records management practices. Yet only 48 percent of organisations surveyed have records retention schedules that address hard copy and electronic records. The absence of a proper retention schedule can undermine an organisation's best efforts to manage its information assets, opening the company up to considerable risk for possible legal and regulatory infringements.
Less than one third of companies have formal methods in place for accessing and managing electronic records for legal discovery. Despite growing volumes of electronic records, organisations remain better prepared for accessing hardcopy records than electronic records. (In comparison, two out of three companies have a quick retrieval process for their hardcopy records.)
Almost two out of three companies do not conduct regular, across-the-board employee training programmes. Only 37 percent of organisations surveyed conduct any form of records management training. To be effective, an organisation's compliance programme requires rigorous ongoing education with employees; this education will help create enterprise-wide awareness of " and adherence to " company policies for storing, accessing, and destroying information in compliance with regulations.
"The report offers a deeper and wider statistical analysis of our benchmark data than ever before, revealing some interesting insights in records management maturity," continued Brennan. "It is my hope that it serves as a useful and educational resource and reference for organisations looking to better understand best practices and advance their records management programmes."
Organisations can access the Iron Mountain Compliance Benchmark Report by registering for a free Webcast on Data Protection Day (Jan. 28) titled "New Insights in Records Management Compliance" at www.ironmountain.com/insights.
About Iron Mountain Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM) helps organisations around the world reduce the costs and risks associated with information protection and storage. The Company offers comprehensive records management and data protection solutions, along with the expertise and experience to address complex information challenges such as rising storage costs, litigation, regulatory compliance and disaster recovery. Founded in 1951, Iron Mountain is a trusted partner to more than 140,000 corporate clients throughout North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. For more information, visit the Company's Web site at www.ironmountain.com.
Waggener Edstrom UK