Employees ‘Becoming Negligent in Saving Documentation’

More advanced data back-up and storage capability has the unexpected downside of making employees have become more casual in their approach to saving documents, a European study by information storage and management company Iron Mountain suggests.

In a series of interviews with senior IT professionals in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, the company found that employees assume that, if required, they can call on IT support to help them locate missing data. IT teams are frustrated by the casual approach but are doing nothing to change behaviour.

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 10 worst document savers are as follows:

  1.  HR
  2.  Finance
  3.  Marketing
  4.  Sales
  5.  Business development
  6.  Creative teams
  7.  Customer support
  8.  IT and software development teams
  9.  Senior management
  10.  Administration

A services firm in France with around 100 employees reports: “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.”

“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 down 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.”

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