“Data Sprawl” – Not Just an IT Problem

| July 21, 2008

An article in the 6/30/2008 issue of CRN Magazine reported on the problem of “sprawl proliferation” associated with the use of virtualization in IT datacenters. Because virtual machines are easy to deploy, they don’t get the same scrutiny as the purchase of physical machines. The result – virtual machines that are not doing any meaningful work and thousands of dollars of assets locked away in computer redundancy.

“Data sprawl” is also a significant concern for OH&S management systems.

In the “good old days,” data was collected, disseminated and stored on paper. It had a physical form. Record control was relatively straight-forward – if you controlled the paper, you controlled the data. Data sprawl had a physical limitation. When paper sprawl reached a certain size, it was pruned back to keep it manageable.

Today, it is different. Data no longer has a physical form – it exists virtually. It is easily and instantly transferred from place to place with the click of a mouse. It exists in multiple forms, in multiple folders, on multiple machines. It is modified and kept in multiple versions – in some case almost indistinguishable from the original. It is printed out multiple times and stored on disks, on flash drives, in folders and 3-ring binders.

The result – DATA SPRAWL – the proliferation of information with no meaningful control.

Just as for IT data centers, there are significant costs associated with this sprawl –

  • Files clogged with multiple copies of documents
  • Time and productivity loss associated with searching for records
  • Redundant files and databases hogging computer space and taking time to maintain
  • Loss of original records in the mass of multiple copies
  • Litigation risk associated with incomplete production of documents or maintenance of records that should have been destroyed

The solution? Implement meaningful record control. Don’t let “data sprawl” engulf you.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2008)

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Category: OHSMS Implementation

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