Bradford’s Brain Balloon #0021 – Never to early for the end of the year

It’s the end of the year as we know it, and I feel fine.
As the clock ticks down toward December 31, many people are preparing for the next year. People are putting together new business forecasts. Setting new goals and making resolutions. Yes, it is before the shopping season and the Solstice Holiday. However, some of these ideas and practices take time and should not be left to the last minute. (Also for those of you who are like me and have decided that the Solstice Holidays do not start until after the fourth Thursday of November (Thanksgiving in the United States) I recommend taking a listen below to Molly Lewis’ Thanksgiving vs. Christmas. It has been playing in my house since the end of October.

Before we move on to 2018, I recommend looking at this year first. Have you thought about how you are going to manage the projects and other items you finished this past year? Do you have a retention plan? What are you going to save? What format are you going to store the data in? How long are you going to store things? How are you going to store files? Is Google Drive really what you want to use?

First allow me to say, check with your tax consultant and counsel to make sure you are meeting those retention requirements.

Also one does have to determine what constitutes finished. If a project is turned over to ownership on June 1, 2017, and then has a one-year installation & labor warranty, and a six-year hardware warranty is it complete on June 1, 2018, or June 1, 2023. I do not have an answer, as each company and project is different. I suggest however that these terms be defined so that everyone knows. I will say that from working for a manufacturer that has warranties for five years and beyond, I keep project information for that entire time; I need to know if items are still covered by warranty.

I cannot recommend enough that notes, email, correspondence, photos, drawings, training sign off, and other items should be stored. There are times when having a photograph showing that training occurred or how a loudspeaker was mounted can quickly address a concern. There are multiple ways to archive mail. There are tools and solutions specifically for that task. I am not going to say what is the best solution. I will say that leaving it all on a server that is not backed up is not a reliable solution. I also caution against having the only backup being an Outlook Archive or PST file. Wading through those can be time consuming. It could be something such as placing all e-mails into a Sharepoint site, Evernote Notebook, or Onenote Notebook by forwarding it. It could be printing out project e-mails to a PDF and including attachments… it could be specialized software.

One needs to determine the format for storing the datum. My preference is Portable Document Format (PDF). The reason is that as revisions of software come and go, or you change what software you are using; the information is still available. Also despite what many think, PDF is an ISO Standard. When I can’t find the installer and license key for AutoCAD, I can still view the information.

As some of you know, I do not like Google Drive for various reasons. The most recent one being the “outage” and reading of content. One can still use it; I recommend encrypting the data first. I use PGP/GPG for encrypting my data. Even if someone gets into the directory the data is still relatively secure (nothing is foolproof). One can even encrypt it so that multiple people can open the data using public keys or keep it limited to just yourself. Also “Cloud Storage” is not a panacea, it means that you are renting someone else’s computer. There are different levels of service and durability. I will use Amazon S3 as the data durability is very high.

One can also have the storage setup to migrate to less expensive storage as time progresses, such as Amazon Glacier. There are also dedicated services, such as Iron Mountain or Jungle Disk. To me, the important thing is that one has a plan for how to save and access this information later on.

I will be the first to explicitly indicate I am talking about concepts and not defining solutions. The reason for this is just as there are multiple ways to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; there are many ways to backup, archive, and secure data. I am hoping to get people thinking about the issues.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go back to fighting a plugin to make the site populate correctly.

Thank you for reading
Bradford

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