Summary of record-keeping responses

Subject: Summary of record-keeping responses
From: "Virginia J. Link" <LINKVI -at- MAIL -dot- STATE -dot- WI -dot- US>
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 1996 08:47:47 -0600

Thanks to everybody who responded to my request for advice on how much to
keep and how long to keep it. Here is a summary of the responses I
received:

Examples of What They Keep
* Proposals.
* All project correspondence.
* Research notes.
* Reviewer edits.
* Source materials.
* Hard copies of the first and lst draft in a permanent project file. Final
files in archival storage.
* One copy of manual for the archives.


How Long They Keep It
Most respondents keep reviewer edits and source materials, in some form
(paper and/or e-mail), until the next release is issued/published. One
consultant keeps all review comments until the project is delivered and the
consultant is paid, then either returns the edits to the client or tosses
everything. One agency keeps the redlined material in hard-copy, stored in
large envelopes, indefinitely.

One respondent tosses everything after the book is published. She has never
needed anything she tossed...but DOES use a sign-off sheet that all the SMEs
have to sign before the document goes to print.

One respondent uses the company's "investigative" system to record the names
of reviewers and any issues they raised.

One respondent returns all resource material to the client at the end of the
job, for confidentiality reasons.


Why They Keep It
Several respondents reported CYA troubles with reviewers, managers and/or
customers, including firings (attempted or actual) for failing to be able to
produce the paper to back up their verbal defenses.

One respondent, in a previous incarnation, didn't keep any paper trail at
all. However, this respondent was the only one who actually reported being
fired from a job, partly because he was unable to CH(is)A (i.e.,
substantiate a verbal defense with printed evidence). (Another respondent
replied that he and his cohorts had indeed needed paper trails to CT(heir)A
from "difficult VPs," thus preventing an outright firing on more than one
occasion. This respondent also reported that paper trails have also helped
his employers get customer lawsuits dismissed.)


How They Keep It
One respondent keeps materials by the book, rather than by the topic.

One respondent keeps it in a pile on the desk, sorted by project or
document. When the piles grow too big, they end up in a box, under the
desk, as a foot rest.


Recommendations
Decide and get agreement on what to maintain in project files and be
consistent.

Comment
Several of the respondents mentioned that "keeping" or "tossing" is a
personality thing, in that some folks compulsively keep everything, and
others just as compulsively toss everything.

Virginia Link
Madison, WI USA

P.S. We're moving and I'm tossing, tossing some things I've had for 9
years (since the previous attempt at statewide automation). That makes me
one of the compulsive keepers. I will still keep one copy of all manuals
and releases for MY personal archives.


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