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28 February 2021

Avoid these data archiving pitfalls

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The ability to manage and access historical information for the purposes of compliance is as important as ever. At the same time however, data volumes are growing, and there’s a desire to capture even more data, and extract maximum value from it.

One of the biggest archiving challenges involves staying on top of your obligations, without ‘drowning in data’, thereby jeopardising your transformation ambitions.

The new iTrent Managed Data Service can equip you with precisely the tools and support you need for executing an effective data archiving strategy. To illustrate the potential value of this, here’s how a best-practice approach can help you avoid today’s common data archiving pitfalls.  

1. Failing to match data archiving practices with compliance obligations 

To be fit for purpose, your data archiving should let you track, isolate and access data that is no longer operationally active, right at the point of need.  

What data will we potentially need to retrieve? The answer to this tends to evolve as your regulatory and compliance obligations shift. As just one recent example, the new insurance contracts standard (IFRS 17) brings with it multiple implications for the storage of historical data: not least, it is more important than ever for historical interest rate information and cash flow projections to be readily available and auditable.  

GDPR presents further challenges. For example, if a disorganised archive system may mean you are unable to confirm to an individual precisely what data you hold on them, you could be sleepwalking into a penalty. The same applies if antiquated archiving means you are holding onto personal data for longer than is necessary.  

The danger is that your compliance requirements change, but your data management strategy fails to keep pace. The strategy should be reviewed in the context of any new requirements by asking the following broad questions: 

  • What information do we need access to in order to meet the new requirements?  

  • In light of this, what data needs to be retained, and how long for? 

  • Who needs to have access to the archived files, and under what circumstances?  

  • Will users be able to access the information they need, using our current architecture and discovery tools?  

2. Wasting the potential of historical data  

Traditionally, historical data was archived more or less solely for compliance or contractual reasons. You held onto certain categories of information, just in case HMRC or your regulator came knocking, or to stave off potential customer disputes.  

All of this is obviously still important. However, if you regard archiving exclusively as a compliance necessity, you could be missing out on wider business opportunities.  

Generally, the greater the volume and quality of data you subject to analysis, the more valuable the insights. When historical data is archived and discoverable, you can analyse it alongside current data sets. This can result in better identification of long-term trends in areas such as performance management and customer behaviour.  

As an example, archived payroll and other HR data could be analysed alongside current operational data, to help you understand the reasons for gender pay disparities. Another example is the capture and archival of vast amounts of information pulled from connected devices (‘Big Data’). Analysis of this inactive data relating to existing products could, for instance, aid in the R&D process for new offerings, helping you to boost efficiency and drive down costs.  

The discovery workshop that comes as part of our Managed Data Service is focused not just on optimising your existing archive systems, but also in highlighting ways in which archived data can be put to better use.  

3. Relying on manual archiving processes 

In many businesses, data archiving is still seen as a semi-regular task; one that IT might get around to when they have a free window or when active databases appear to be getting full. 

Business data volume is currently increasing by an estimated 40% annually. In all likelihood, your business is capturing, processing and having to store a much wider range and larger amount of information, even compared to just a few years ago.  

Manual archive processes tend to be slow, error-prone, and a waste of IT resources. Large volumes of unused data clogging up applications can also have a negative impact on system performance. To keep pace with organisational data needs, your strategy needs to incorporate a reliable auto-archive solution, whereby data that is no longer in use or that meets specific criteria is automatically archived.  

4. No clear policies  

If you are archiving data in an ad-hoc, occasional manner, inconsistencies can emerge. Different employees, departments and branches may all follow subtly different practices, and there may be a lack of clarity on what information needs to be archived and when. This opens up a number of risks.  

It can mean that data that is no longer ‘mission critical’ lingers for too long in Tier 0 or Tier 1 locations. This can result in needlessly high storage costs, as well as systems becoming overburdened with redundant data, leading to performance drop-off.  

There is also the opposite risk of early deletion: i.e. data is deleted, archived to an inappropriate tier or simply goes missing and cannot be retrieved to meet compliance or operational requirements.  

To avoid these risks, you need a clear, organisation-wide data archive policy. This should cover the following:  

  • Precise criteria for moving inactive data to different tiers: i.e. what needs to move, when and where.  

  • Anticipating likely discovery requirements. In other words, recognising which datasets may need to be accessible post-archive; e.g. for compliance, audits or for analysis. The storage mode for such data needs to make information available, open to queries and usable.  

Getting it right  

Our Managed Data Service offers a targeted, cost-effective way to execute your data archive strategy.  

Starting with a discovery session, our experts can help you identify precisely the tools and reports you need to resolve legacy data issues, to keep on top of compliance obligations, to reduce your spend on needlessly costly tiers, and to scale up your transformation projects without risk of ‘drowning in data’.  

The end result is an automated archival process, integrating precisely the retention rules you need to stay on top of your obligations. Your data resides in a highly secure, appropriately-tiered storage environment, while still ensuring the availability and discoverability of all the data you need, round the clock. Want to find out more?

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