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Business Process Improvement

Some improvement ideas under the heading Working smarter with Data

Review all aspects of the way team members develop, store and share data and information, typically using the following logic.

1. When creating data/information consider:

  1. Whether it is permanent, semi-permanent or non-permanent. Create directories to cater for this and allow timely deletion of non-permanent data?
  2. Is it helpful to use an ‘Obsolete’ folder? Of course, Windows has a recycle bin but it is often useful to keep an ‘Obsolete’ folder where you can file older versions of files that are no longer in use but files that you might still need refer to for specific reasons.
  3. Does it need to be check or authorised by a specific authority?
  4. Is there a robust change control procedure for data/information?
  5. Is version control needed? If so is this best done using the filename, e.g. docname_Rev_1.doc?
  6. Is it necessary to control distribution? If so make sure that all recipients have been correctly identified and frequency of distribution has been specified.

2. Should the data have an owner/custodian?

It is always advisable to appoint an owner/custodian for data with responsibilities for specifying retention periods, keeping it up-to-date, authorising change, keeping stakeholders informed, etc.

3. Review data storage

  1. Can my files, either hard copy or electronic, be accessed by authorised personnel when I am away from my desk?
  2. Is the retrieval of either hard copy or electronic efficient and effective? Much time is wasted in organisations by personnel searching for information either in hard copy or electronic form. Our retrieval system must be robust enough to prevent this loss.
  3. Is hard copy identified against the electronic file? This is now common practice as organisations have realised how much time is wasted trying to match hard copy to electronic file.
  4. Has secure backup been implemented?
  5. Do personnel know that they should not store valuable data on unsecured local drives?
  6. Do personnel understand that they are responsible for managing their electronic data? For example deleting obsolete electronic files, not using excessive disk space on the relevant servers?

4. Efficient retrieval of data

  1. Is the retrieval of either hard copy or electronic efficient and effective? Much time is wasted in organisations by personnel searching for information either in hard copy or electronic form. Our retrieval system must be robust enough to prevent this loss.

Efficient storage of data is essential to enable ease of retrieval. Use simple directory structures in PCs, give all documents a filename and ‘page m of n’ in the footer. Using the ISO date system (YY_MM_DD) will sort electronic files in date order.