Our son’s room is a fascinating place. It’s basically a history museum of his 9 (!) years of life. Whenever I try to clean it up with him, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of anything. There are clothes that no longer fit him (or haven’t fit for years), but he wants to keep them as they were his ‘favourite’ at one point. There are twigs, rocks, scraps of paper all which carry memories for him. Funnily though, there are also other bits of paper and rocks, which we can throw out. Frankly, I’ve never been able to work out the difference between the ones to keep and the ones to throw out.
In many ways this is an improvement on months ago when his ‘stuff’ was spread over the whole house. However, finding things in his room can often be a challenge, which can add its own level of frustration. And frankly, while the spread is generally contained, there are always items that are left in strange places around the house, barn, or garden.
Recently, I’ve been thinking of the rapid shut down of offices again. One of the ongoing challenges for most organisations is knowing where their data is. This may seem like a simple thing, but in reality it is hard. In disasters people use tools and solutions to get the job done, while ‘proper’ systems and processes are being established. And often, most organisational systems are still designed by folks in environments unlike the reality of a disaster or conflict.
Therefore, I keep coming back to the ‘simple’ process of a data inventory, which is anything but simple. The first step in preparing for a rapid shut down of an office is knowing where your data is. A data inventory is the term used. And just like our son’s ‘stuff’ is found in random places around the house, so too, will be the case with your data. And you will also find strange pieces of data that for some reason have been saved, thought to be important. The first step is trying to find out where it all is and what parts are sensitive and what is not.
This is step one in preparedness, but like many first steps, it is the hardest.