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Identifying High-Value Documents

Too often we look at documents as just pieces of paper or digital files that contain information.

We often forget to consider the value of that document. Some documents are assigned value based on time to write (like a very large document) or potential fines if done wrong (like a regulatory or compliance document). But every document has some value.

I’m reminded of a client visit for a paper digitization effort. While taking a tour of the facility, we stopped at a set of file cabinets. My client explained that inside were the only copies of engineering diagrams for every building the organization managed. I asked the two men that happened to be working in the drop ceiling if they were fixing an air conditioning drip pan. For years these high value documents, many of which could not have been reproduced, sat under 25 gallons of water.

Fortunately with electronic documents, out right loss of a document is rare. Regular backups, RAID formatting of drive, and other IT practices look to ensure the availability of documents. However, accidental or intentional deletions can still occur.

Electronic documents also bring new challenges. With physical documents, access or duplication can be addressed with simple physical controls. In the electronic world access controls become critical. The wrong controls may expose hundreds, thousands or even millions of document in a single incident. An organization needs to balance controls with accessibility based on the value of both an individual document and the collection.

Identifying the value of the documents starts with looking at:

  • Costs to reproduce the document

  • Fines associated to regulatory or compliance

  • Liability for missing or lost documents

  • Market exposure from the disclosure of documents

For some documents the value may be obvious by document type. Public facing marketing documents will require fewer controls than the engineering documents for a groundbreaking new product. In other cases you may need to dig deeper into the documents. In a collection of contracts, there may be a few high-value contracts that need special controls.

Once you are able to understand the value of your documents, then it’s time to ensure that the proper controls are in place to use those documents. Join me for my webinar, “Checking the Locks: Workflow and Process Security” for tips and tricks on how to protect your high value documents.


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