Over Labor Day weekend, someone told me—and almost convinced me— that in some contexts, rules were made to be broken. Oddly enough, this conversation stemmed from my friend persuading me to rearrange my 22-year old kitchen. I don’t think of myself as naturally rebellious, so I took these words with a grain of salt.
This level of procrastination typically occurs in familiar environments that are just “good enough” for people to “make do” in, blinding them from accepting possibilities that there are easier, cost-efficient alternatives. I cannot count how many times I told myself that I would reorganize my kitchen next weekend but ended up doing something else—as I am sure many people are guilty of as well. This analogy also applies to the exponentially growing world of data.
My kitchen makes sense to me. While it is not the neatest kitchen, I at least know where everything is. But just knowing where something is does not mean it is in the best place. When my friends come over to cook food together, they struggle to locate items because my kitchen is not organized in a “functional” manner. Like corporate file shares, the counters and drawers inside the kitchen are valuable spaces that should be used wisely to store the most frequently used items. As an example, it doesn’t make sense for me to have my very seldom-used cake mixer occupy prime counter space right next to the microwave if I do not bake often. Likewise, it is not viable to store old files in the file share if they’re not used by end-users. Even though each file owner knows their own file folder structure, someone in compliance looking for sensitive data across the entire enterprise will probably meet the same confused fate as my friends did when they tried to find my cutting boards.
So how do you avoid this common conundrum that plagues most workplaces?
The first step to cleaning up the mess is recognizing that there is a mess. While I was very familiar with where and how things were placed in my kitchen, no one else shared that same familiarity with me. A nuisance for my friends, but not the end of the world. But if a company cannot reliably find all of its data, and that’s a huge problem. The best investment a company can make in regards to file share cleanup is to take the time to understand it. In the long run, this saves you the cost of repetitively culling your folders and files and helps you develop a habit of actively purging filing, and managing data. Ultimately, do not let whatever you store just get old and “ROT.”