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Phases of the information lifecycle: from creation to disposal

Learn how to manage the information lifecycle, from creation to disposal, to ensure its security and effectiveness in your organisation.
Picture of Manuel Aguirre

Manuel Aguirre

In organisations, effective information management is crucial to the achievement of their objectives. From internal communication to strategic decision-making, information drives every aspect of business operations. That’s why understanding the lifecycle of information, and the importance of managing it, has become critical in the digital age.

The lifecycle of information encompasses a complete process from data creation or capture to full preservation or secure disposal. These activities not only focus on the management of raw data, but also include the organisation, analysis and utilisation of the information supported by the documents in an efficient and effective manner.

In this article, we explain in detail the different phases of the information lifecycle: from initial data creation or capture, storage and management, delivery or publication, through to the retention and disposal phase. In addition, we describe how organisations in various sectors can apply this concept to upgrade their internal processes, make informed decisions and comply with relevant regulations.

The information lifecycle

Let us start with a clear concept of what information management is:

Information management refers to the set of processes and practices designed to acquire, organise, store, retrieve, protect and use information efficiently and effectively within an organisation.

In the business context, information management involves ensuring that information is available to the right people at the right time, facilitating informed decision-making and the achievement of organisational objectives. This includes the implementation of systems and technologies to store and organise data and documentary files in a structured manner, as well as the creation of policies and procedures to ensure the security and confidentiality of sensitive information.

Phases of the information lifecycle

The main phases of the information lifecycle include the following:

Creation or capture

The creation or capture phase is the starting point of the information lifecycle. In this phase, data is generated or collected for the first time, either through automated processes, or manually, such as user input. It can come from a variety of sources, such as physical documents, emails, databases, or even social media interactions. Once information is created, it is captured for recording and storage. This involves collecting the information in a way that can be stored and used at a later date.

At this stage, it is crucial to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the information from its source. In addition, it is essential to establish appropriate mechanisms for data capture and entry to minimise the risk of errors and to ensure the integrity of the information at source.

Technological advances currently allow for tools such as Athento that provide functionality for the capture of documents and data, such as the following:

Storage

The storage phase is an essential stage in the information lifecycle. Once data has been created or captured, it needs to be stored in a secure and accessible manner for future use.

During this stage, data is organised and stored in a designated system or repository for long-term preservation. This storage can be physical, using paper files, or digital, through computer systems, databases, file servers, cloud storage drives, or any other suitable medium depending on the needs of the organisation. It is appropriate to choose a storage method that ensures the integrity, security and availability of the information.

It is essential that the storage of information is carried out in a structured and efficient manner. This involves implementing policies and procedures to classify and organise data and documentary files so that they are easy to find and retrieve when needed. In addition, adequate security measures must be put in place to protect data against unauthorised access, loss or damage.

Choosing the right storage systems depends on a number of factors, including the volume and nature of data, access and security requirements, and available resources. Organisations can opt for cloud storage solutions to access their data from any location, or deploy local servers for more direct control over the storage infrastructure.

Management

In the information lifecycle management phase, stored data are accessible and used by authorised users within the organisation. At this stage, attention needs to be paid to two fundamental aspects: access to information and the use made of it.

Access to information involves enabling authorised users to retrieve stored data quickly and efficiently. This is achieved by implementing access management systems that establish who is allowed to access what information and under what circumstances. This may involve authentication through user credentials, access through secure networks or the implementation of additional security measures such as data encryption.

Maintaining traceability of changes and access to information is also part of information management activities. In today’s digitised information management systems, it is possible to apply version control, check-in and check-out of documents, keep a record or history of documentation, or audit trails.

Once information has been accessed, users can use it to carry out their tasks and responsibilities. This may include viewing reports, editing documents, analysing data, or any other activity related to the use of information to achieve organisational goals.

In modern document management, digital processes are implemented to trigger digital circuits for managing documents, applications, cases or other procedures:

Delivery and publication

The ability to share information securely and efficiently is critical at this stage. This may involve sharing data and documents between work teams or systems that need them to perform their own tasks or processes, exchanging data with collaborators (business partners, customers, suppliers) or external applications, or collaborating in real time on shared projects.

It is important to establish policies and procedures to ensure that information is shared appropriately and that security and confidentiality requirements are respected.

Advanced functionality available for this delivery and publication phase of the information lifecycle includes:

Preservation

In the information lifecycle, the preservation stage refers to the management of data and documents once they have served their initial purpose or are no longer needed for business, legal or regulatory purposes. This stage comprises two distinct phases: retention, which involves determining how long information should be retained, and disposal, which addresses how information will be disposed of or archived at the end of its useful lifecycle:

  • Retention. During this stage, the period of time for which information must be retained for legal, regulatory or business reasons is determined. Some data may require long-term retention, while other data may be deleted after certain time periods. It is essential to establish clear retention policies and comply with applicable legal requirements.
  • Disposal. Finally, in the disposal phase, information reaches the end of its lifecycle and is disposed of securely and permanently. This may involve the physical destruction of documents, the erasure of electronic files, or the deletion of databases. It is crucial to follow proper disposal procedures to protect privacy and avoid security risks.

To manage information in this final stage, Athento allows you to implement retention policies, control expired documents and configure expiry notices for documents. As well as document loans or infrequent access storage.

In summary, the information lifecycle is a fundamental framework for effective data management in organisations. By understanding and applying the different phases of this cycle, businesses can upgrade the security, efficiency and compliance of their information management processes.

If your organisation needs to optimise information management, contact us for more information and find out how we can help you boost your document processes!