The following steps will help you prepare for a successful ROT Squad consult. Step 1 helps you start from zero by identifying types of ROT to target for elimination. Step 2 helps you determine a ROT cleanup project scope: what you'll target, where you'll search, who will destroy ROT, and when you'll be done. Step 3 outlines how to measure your volume before and after a ROT cleanup so you can demonstrate success. Step 4 provides a framework for what your record landscape will be once you have successfully completed your project. Let's get started!
Step 1: Pick low-hanging ROTten fruit
- > Don't know where to start? Review our list of Usual Suspects for ROT we've encountered in prior consults.
- > Review Materials That May Be Disposed of Without a Specific Retention Period, a section of UW’s General Records Retention Schedule. These series constitute a lot of ROT for many offices.
- > Start by deleting items that you can quickly identify, such as drafts, duplicates, notifications, newsletters, and meeting announcements. Consider it an easy win!
Step 2: Establish the ROT project scope
- > Consider the types of records that your office creates and manages, and refresh your knowledge of the General Records Retention Schedule and your office’s Departmental Records Retention Schedule. Note when records are archival.
- > Where are you targeting ROT? Consider all the formats and locations your office uses to store records: email, shared drives, databases, file cabinets, the cloud, or personal devices. Where did former employees stash records?
- > Consider your office’s workflows. Who uses and manages these records? When you delete records in one location, is there another location with duplicate records to check as well?
- > Who needs to be involved? Will you be delegating cleanup on sections of your shared drive? Who has the final authority to approve deletion?
- > Use our tool to list folders on your network drive: identify areas that need work and assign ROT review to colleagues
- > What is your cleanup timeline? Is this a one-time sweep, or a model for ongoing management?
Step 3: Measure volume to prove success
- > Take a starting point measure of your overall volume so you can demonstrate later how much ROT you've conquered. Prove that the project was worth your time. A recent ROT client deleted 8,700 obsolete files; another eliminated 40% of her emails in just two hours—that’s UW time well spent.
- > Measure volume in the following:
- Shared network drives: Total MB, Total number of files, Total number of folders. Use our tutorial to quickly measure volume!
- Email: Total number of messages (remember to count your Sent and Deleted!). Use our tutorial to easily measure email volume!
- Databases: Total number of records, Total MB.
- Paper: Volume in bankers box or cubic foot (1 bankers box = 1 cubic foot). A lateral filing cabinet drawer is equal to 3 bankers boxes.
Step 4: Visualize the future state
- > Imagine what your records will look like when you have eradicated your Redundant, Obsolete, and Transitory records. When your cleanup is complete, you will have:
- SAVED Records that are still actively being used in the course of business
- SAVED Records that are no longer active but still within retention, labeled with the year they can be deleted
- TRANSFERRED Archival (historical) records past their retention will have been transferred to the University Archives for appraisal
- DELETED Obsolete records that are past their retention will have been purged
- DELETED Records that didn’t need to be kept in the first place (like drafts and duplicates) will have been destroyed
With our help, you can have dramatically fewer records, and a streamlined plan for moving forward. Schedule your ROT Squad consult today!