If you are like many readers (and this author!) your may first need to find out “What the heck is ESI?” Electronically Stored Information is what the lawyers call all that stuff we knowledge workers produce that lives on our local machines, in the corporate network, in the cloud, and these days, on wearable devices.
Jonathan Swerdloff makes a compelling argument that a wise organization will take the time to compile a data map – “a document or series of documents that identify the who, what, and where of the ESI held by an organization.” Swerdloff, an attorney, sees this as necessary preparation for the day that an organization faces litigation. He points out that putting this document together requires a level of due diligence which probably extends to surveying employees, who may be storing organizational information in places unknown to the IT department.
But really, putting this document together has a strategic purpose, as well. So many of us are on multi-organizational teams these days, and those teams choose a wide range of places to share information. It’s probably important to find out who, if anybody, is storing project information in a partner org’s system or in Basecamp, shared documents in Dropbox or Google Docs, or meeting notes in the chat logs at GChat or Skype.
Even people whose work is entirely within the organization may be storing information elsewhere. When the priority is to get the work done, many choose to request forgiveness later, rather than ask permission up front to use a cloud-based tool. And of course, a simple misconfiguration can result in critical emails going out under an employee’s personal, rather than corporate account.
Creating the data map may well expose some deficits in the organizational toolbox. If you find that your most effective employees are using tools you are not managing, it may be time to bring some of that capacity into your organization.
We’ve been providing role-based training, team discussion and file space to organizations for over a decade now. We’d love to help you simplify your data map. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org