Records are increasingly being retained electronically, those that are born electronic and the scanned in versions of received documents. Managing electronic records according to established retention and disposition schedules is made more difficult by software limitations and lack of understanding of classification and file structure rules and best practices.

Note: Regardless of the format (physical or electronic), once a record has reached the minimum retention period, it must be destroyed or transferred to the Historical Society according to the approved record schedule.

There are two types of data or electronic records - structured and unstructured.

  • Structured environment examples are Legistar, Accela, Kronos, MUNIS
    Structured environments usually include a data or record repository where the records are stored.
  • Unstructured environments include MS Office (Word, Excel, etc.)
    Unstructured records are typically stored on shared network drives.
    Setting up a clear file structure for your program area or division enables better records management, is more efficient when searching for documents, and reduces the potential for ROT - redundant, out-dated, and trivial records.

Both environments require manual management of the records through the retention and disposition part of the life-cycle.

Shared Drive Clean-up and Classification

Ridding our network drives of redundant, outdated, trivial (ROT) records and information can be a daunting task. The volume of records and information that we create and/or retain electronically is increasing exponentially, and the risks and costs increase along with it:

  • unable to find records/information needed for open records requests
  • out of compliance with the City’s records retention schedule
  • lack of security for confidential, personally identifiable or medical information
  • staff time to locate records/information
  • storage, backup and restore time and expense

Shared Drive Clean-up Basics

  • Get buy-in from management and participation across the department.
    • Sample Project Charter – coming soon
  • Have policies in place.
    • Know the difference between an official record, convenience copy/duplicate, draft, personal notes. See What is a public record?
      • Deleting official records includes additional requirements (e.g., notification to the City Records Manager 60 days prior to destruction, maintain a list of official records that were destroyed.)
    • Know how long official public records need to be retained. Refer to the City’s Record Retention Schedules – General & Agency Specific, Police
    • Review appropriate APM’s and ordinances:
  • Delete the easy stuff first.
    • Search folders by extensions (.mp3, .wav, .wp, etc.)
      • delete personal photos* and videos
      • delete old WordPerfect or other outdated application files
    • Sort by date last accessed
      • orphaned folders (staff who are no longer w/the City)
      • abandoned projects/initiatives
  • Utilize software tools to analyze directories based on metadata or properties (e.g., last accessed, last modified, owner/author, size, extension, etc.)
    • Directory Lister Pro is a low cost tool that meets the requirements for APM 3-20 and has been approved for use. Send a request to the IT HelpDesk (helpdesk@cityofmadison.com) to start the procurement process. Include an account number to charge and employee’s name/device the software will be installed on.
    • Photos – If you find department-related pictures that you want to retain, please contact the IT HelpDesk (helpdesk@cityofmadison.com). Your request will be forwarded to the Web Team, who manages an application for cataloging and tagging photos. You will have access to the catalogue for use in marketing, displays or presentations.

Classification or Shared Folder Structure Basics

Classification with Raimy - video

  • Get buy-in from management and participation across the department.
  • Determine if you will reorganize your current folder structure or create a new structure and take a “day forward” approach. Hybrid: create a new structure and migrate files from the old structure as they are opened or modified.
  • Develop a folder structure for shared drives that is better organized. Best practices recommend a functional structure rather than based on the organizations units or teams – Functional Classification Structure.

Materials from the July 2018 workshop presented by IMERGE Consulting

Other Resources