Imagine a future where we find ourselves without a written record of the past; a ‘digital dark age’. Because just as digital content is easy to create it is as easy to lose. So where we ruthlessly delete content that doesn’t get used, if we don’t ensure the right information gets stored for the future we may find ourselves unable to learn from our successes and follies.
Why do you need an archiving policy for your intranet? Because your intranet can harvest organizational knowledge for times when your firm’s culture needs affirmation. And because information of all different types can fulfil a yearning for knowledge, the content on your intranet now is bound to have value in the future.
The content on your intranet is often unique; it has the quality of a record about it. This article argues for the need to implement an archiving policy into your intranet governance protocols and build the tools to make it easy for editors to manage the document workflow from creation to archive or deletion.
Active Content on the Intranet
In??? Improving Findability on your Intranet: Collection Management Essentials, the importance of ensuring your intranet contains content of use was outlined; that the measure of whether content should remain active on your intranet, just like how a library decides what stays on its shelves, should be by how well used it is. Once it passes a defined period of not having been accessed it should be automatically deactivated so it doesn’t appear by default to staff searching or browsing your intranet.
There is a middle ground between what is kept on the intranet to ensure the content on it is what people want on a day-to-day basis and where documents are stored forever. That content in that middle ground is ‘inactive’ and it should be stored for a certain period before being disposed of. We need to store information in an ‘inactive’ state for when a user wants a document they remember seeing on the intranet years ago that suddenly becomes relevant. As soon as it gets used, it should head back into the ‘active’ state and the same policy applied to it as to new content.
The Intranet Archive
In How a businesses can embody a founder’s values Arup’s David Macdonald highlights the importance of maintaining a company’s values once the founder has left. But if there are no records of those values once your founder leaves, your organisation may find itself lost at sea. Have you ever thought how useful a recording of an opening or final address from the early years of your business might be? Or how the conversations outlining the purpose, belief and goals of the directors working on that signature project could be used as tools to reinvigorate a now rudderless ship? In order to prepare for that situation it is imperative that we, as information managers, ensure some documents are stored in perpetuity. I found out a raft of information about my deceased father in scanned newsletters from the 1970’s on the intranet where he worked. Do you have the first edition of your intranet strategy? I would find it absolutely fascinating to read if it was over a decade old for instance.
Accessing the Archive
The three levels mentioned above may be too complicated for your end users. Simply having an ‘extend this search to the Archive’ filter in your search results, or an ‘include the archive’ link in a curated area of the intranet should bring up both inactive and archived content.