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What data do you keep?

LETTERS

Sir, A raft of new legislative and regulatory demands are causing construction firms to store massive amounts of data without due regard as to whether they actually need it.

Directors are understandably flummoxed by conflicting directives and, although the tendency is to err on the side of caution, there are distinct disadvantages to keeping every single document, letter and email - not least in the amount of money required to keep buying servers to store electronic data.

Records should only be kept for a certain amount of time, and in an increasingly litigious society it could be potentially damaging to keep them for any longer than absolutely necessary.

The problem lies in deciding what to destroy: is the information relevant to current business functions? Do staff need access to this information?

Is it going to help the business if it is stored electronically? What happens if it isn't stored electronically?

Do we legally need to retain this information for a defined period of time?

It is essential that directors of construction firms remain committed to achieving core objectives, such as increasing revenues, decreasing costs and improving customer service. But they must also take compliance issues seriously. It is dangerous to keep everything, but it is also impractical to keep everything in an electronic format.

Effective information management will ensure that servers are not clogged up with useless information, help prepare the business for the inevitable exponential increase in data volumes in the future and ensure the company is safe from litigation.

Liz Maloney, managing director Hummingbird UK Wokingham, Berkshire