A European study by information storage and management company Iron Mountain has discovered an unexpected downside to advanced data back-up and storage capability. The research revealed that employees have become more casual in their approach to saving documents, confident that, if required, they can call on IT support to help them retrieve missing data.
In a series of in-depth interviews with senior IT professionals in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, Iron Mountain found that IT teams are frustrated by the casual approach to storing data but are doing nothing to change employee behaviour.
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The most common reason for the employee approach to saving documents is thought to be a simple lack of IT skills, although other explanations included general carelessness and complacency, poor version control of documents, an inconsistent or incomplete approach to naming files (making them difficult to find), and the challenge of unstructured data for creative teams. In the case of HR, IT professionals accept that HR professionals are often far too busy and deal with too much data every day to stay on top of it all without error.
According to IT professionals, Europe’s top ten worst document savers are as follows:
5. Business development
6. Creative teams
7. Customer support
8. IT and software development teams
9. Senior management
A services firm in France with around 100 employees says: “It’s mainly the business development team – they are not tech savvy and always in a rush, so they make mistakes and save documents in the wrong place. Then they can’t find what they want when they need it.” A larger French services firm, with over 1,000 employees, blames marketing: “They have countless presentations, process documents and other marketing-related files to deal with. They back-up the data and then get confused about which one they need at any moment in time. Poor file naming and indexing doesn’t help.”
A UK-based media agency with around 150 employees says most cases involve the creative teams: “This is probably because they are forever going back to files and presentations and updating them with new ideas and concepts and then not saving them correctly.” A financial services firm with over 1,000 employees explains that the biggest culprit in the business is customer support: “It happens because of their mind-set. They know they can come to us at any time for data retrieval. Other departments rarely seem to need us in this way.”
HR departments feature prominently in Spain. A services firm with 350 staff puts this down to the fact that HR professionals generally lack IT skills: “They deal with so much information every day, they are bound to make mistakes such as not saving it properly.”
In Germany, a mid-sized media agency with over 500 employees points the finger at the creative teams: “They have to deal with an awful lot of multi-media content every day, and sometimes they get confused between several versions of the same media file. There is a challenge in properly managing unstructured data.”
Over in the Netherlands, business development, sales and marketing are the top offenders. According to a manufacturing and engineering firm with 350 employees: “Business development is simply not organised about how it handles data and ends up mislaying day-to-day files.” A small financial services firm with fewer than 100 employees, says: “Sales people are careless and their casual approach is linked to the fact that they think all data is backed-up and they can get it any time they want it.” Administrative and operational teams do not get off scot-free. One hospitality firm with 200 employees says: “They have no set process for storing files and no specific standard for naming and indexing, so documents aren’t saved correctly.” An IT professional at a small manufacturing firm of 100 people admits, however, that: “Initially I thought marketing did it because they knew IT people would help them to find the data, but later I realised I was wrong and it was just down to a lack of IT skills.”
“As companies introduce more strategic and sophisticated systems for data back-up and retrieval, blending on- and off-site, server, disc, tape and cloud solutions, employees across the business have discovered a valuable safety net for lost or misfiled documents,” said Christian Toon, Head of Information Risk for Europe, at Iron Mountain. “Much of this appears to be due to a lack of IT skills. IT professionals can reduce this additional burden by helping colleagues to better name and save documents, introduce collaborative document sharing-platforms to manage version control, and set up a central repository where people can look for their documents themselves.”
About Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE: IRM) is a leading provider of storage and information management solutions. The company’s real estate network of 64 million square feet across more than 1,000 facilities in 36 countries allows it to serve customers around the world. And its solutions for records management, data backup and recovery, document management and secure shredding help organisations to lower storage costs, comply with regulations, recover from disaster, and better use their information for business advantage. Founded in 1951, Iron Mountain stores and protects billions of information assets, including business documents, backup tapes, electronic files and medical data. Visit www.ironmountain.co.uk for more information.