The Integrity News
"objective risk management news"
Vol. XVII No. 2
December 1, 2008
October 20, 2008
PURGING DATA SAVES MONEY
AND CUTS LEGAL RISK, SO WHY
DO SO FEW COMPANIES DO IT ?
Organizations often think about which data are most
important to keep and for how long. However, it
is just as vital to identify which data should be thrown
away. It is true that one wants to be able to quickly
produce required information during litigation, but
it is possible to keep data too long.
The risk is that by keeping data you wouldn't normally
be required to produce in a lawsuit, you could open
the door for that data to ultimately be used as evidence
Companies fear that they will be perceived as trying
to do something underhanded by purging data. This
feeling should really not exist for data that you are not
required to keep for a specified period of time.
Another reason that companies keep more data than
they should is that storage is relatively inexpensive.
Companies find it much cheaper ( until they have a
lawsuit ) to just buy more storage media, rather than
sort through their data and discard what they don't
The volume of retained data is growing at the annual
rate of 20-50%, and the storage cost, without thinking
of the litigation exposure, is becoming significant.
You must keep in mind:
Every respondent to a national survey from small and
mid-sized companies reported at least one lawsuit with
$20 million or more at stake in the past year.
20% of the largest companies surveyed had 21 to 50
lawsuits with $20 million or more at stake.
Almost 40% of the largest companies spent $5 million or
more annually on litigation, excluding settlements and
31% of all respondents log and retain instant messages.
40% of all respondents retain all voice mail.
A company should create broad black and white
rules that are easy to follow. One may have a rule
for "Accounting" data, another for "HR" data,
another for "Patient Records", another for "video
surveillance tapes", etc. One can also have different
rules in broad categories for top management, middle
"The issues associated with legal, compliance, and
operational risks are often ambiguous, and few
organizations have a process to accommodate a
web of requirements for data retention."
Given the current state of data retention in many
companies, the task of purging old data could seem
too daunting. But don't let that stop you. Start
setting policies now rather than trying to apply them
to old data. "If you address high-risk, high-volume,
applications and databases, you will address 90%
of your risk."
"The costs of perpetually managing and refreshing
huge amounts of data that have never been culled
or purged is extremely high."
Remember, you can always call
The Integrity Center, Inc.
to discuss topics anytime at (972) 484-6140.
Helping you with your Risk Management and HR Automation is what we do.