Dear Colleagues,

Many thanks to those who replied to my question on statistics showing the
percentage of time staff currently spend trying to retrieve information in
the absence of records management controls.  As I received such useful
responses, I thought it would be useful to produce a summary for the list.

I was provided with a variety of stats:

- A press release from Tower Software regarding the use of the TRIM software
at the DTI shows that "early indications show that staff productivity has
also improved, with staff reporting variously, a 75% reduction in filing
time, a 37% reduction in time spent searching for information and a 62%
reduction in time waiting for information from others."

- Tower Software also told me that:
* 70 in labour is spent finding a misfiled document (according to a Coopers
& Lybrand study) 
* Office workers can waste up to two hours a day looking for misplaced
* In the U.S., Cuadra Associates did some research which showed that
managers spend an average of 4 weeks a year searching for or waiting on
misfiled, mislabelled, untracked, or 'lost' papers";
* Computer users spend 7.5 percent of their time on a PC looking for
misplaced files (Microsoft);
* Only 5% of organisations' information is digital;
* 19 paper copies are made of each original document;
* 7.5% of paper documents get lost completely and 3% of the remainder get
misfiled (C&L study) or 3% - 5% are lost or misplaced at any one time
(according to Information Week) or companies typically misfile 2% to 7% of
their records" (From survey conducted by New York City chapter, ARMA
International) or large organizations lose a document every 12 seconds"
(Cuadra Associates);
* 10 in labour is spent filing or retrieving a document;
* 125 in labour is spent recreating a lost document (C&L study again) or
90 (according to Information Week);
* 6% of PCs will suffer an episode of data loss in any given year; each
incident costs an average of 1,225 to fix, including costs such as
retrieving and recovering the missing information, lost productivity,
technical services, and the data's average value;
* Active files typically grow at a rate of about 25% annually;

- "In a 2001 survey of 6300 US knowledge workers, such as IT professionals,
technical writers, researchers, academics, lawyers, teachers etc., Outsell
Inc Super I-Aim found that the average employee spends eight hours per week
processing external information.  68% of the respondents preferred
"Do-it-yourself" methods to using content provision services.  Ten percent
of all knowledge workers spend over twenty hours per week looking for
information.  Translating this into dollars and cents, this represents about
$10.000 per employee per year."

- This article from Outsource Marketing talks about "the staggering cost of
information overload"

- "Reliable statistics like this tend to be hard to come by unless you can
afford to buy things like Gartner's reports.  However, I came across some
stats you may find useful recently in a webinar.  You can download it from
here:  It's quite
large (5MB) and is a WMV file, so you'll need Media Player to play it.  The
stats are one or two slides into the presentation. 

- Objective Corporation UK Ltd have done some research into this area and
have drawn up some useful statistics on this issue.  These will be available
in a report to be released by the Corp shortly.  Contact Stuart Ward for
further information: [log in to unmask]

However, I also received a couple of new spins on interpreting this
question, which I found of interest:

- "Such numbers are now myths in the mists of time.  I used to use some 20
years ago when I started in this EDRMS work.  But I think they may be
different now.  For example, there are large numbers of documents held on
personal computers, which changes the picture.  Such electronic documents
have never been paper, and therefore, never been filed in Sankey Sheldon
4-drawer cabinets.  An alternative way is to list the typical activities
that potential users of "lost" documents may have to do to get the document
they want.  The list represents a daunting process that no one reading your
justification document will want to do!"

- "In my information management work... I've actually come across situations
where records management approaches make the day to day retrieval problem
worse!  The issue is that records management approaches are geared primarily
towards long term management of the records - managed retention and disposal
for example.  Therefore the organisation of the material has a tendancy to
be aligned with the needs of records policy using a business classification
scheme and file plan which is designed to be stable over a long period.
This leads to a file plan which is often functionally based - very logical
for applying retention policies, but can be counter intuitive for your some
users without significant training.  There is a big distinction too between
types of work - processed based work, case work and project work have
different characteristics and may need slightly different approaches.  The
short term needs for team collaboration and information management and
retrieval often leads to different approaches.  Rather than using a long
term file plan for everything, current supporting materials for the team
tend to be held closer at hand organised in a way to suit the team (but
still organised according to guidelines).  In the background they may be
mapped to the "official" long term file plan but for that team now it is the
team's organisation that is most important.  Think of the old fashioned
registry days - an officer would have some working day files on their desk
or in their filing cabinet but would know that certain materials needed to
be preserved for the longer term and they would often place a copy (or the
original) in the registry for long term keeping.  If they were looking for
information that was current, then the local filing system would be
searched, if the materials were older then the registry would be searched.
The issue of course is that under the modern electronic environment, this
discipline has broken down and the irony is that the electronic tools have
made it too easy to have no structure at all for short term and long term
needs.  By the way - these views are controversial as they don't suit the
older style records managers or ERM systems.  However, they are the model
used for the newer EDRM/ECM systems." 

Again, many thanks to all who responded.


Jenny Godfrey
Records Manager
Business Change
Gloucestershire Constabulary

Tel: 01242 276868
Email: [log in to unmask]

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