To Purge or Not to Purge (HR Help Desk Data)

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purge data

One of the most frequent questions from LBi’s HR Help Desk clients is when to purge and archive older help desk records. Our answer is simple and straight forward — never. Each employee’s complete case history reveals a lot about that employee’s disposition in the company. Changes in productivity, temperament, company loyalty, and more can occur over periods ranging from weeks to months to years. LBi HR Help Desk captures that valuable information. Having that data live and available for analysis presents a tremendous benefit to HR management.

Since individual case records are very small in size (less than 10K plus attachments, if any), the help desk database for a 10,000 employee organization might not even break 3-5 Gigs after a full 5 years in production. Considering the standard LBi hosting configuration includes arrays of 300 Gig drives (and unlimited in the Cloud), that same company could easily store well in excess of 20+ years live data, with no loss of performance.

Often, our prospective clients express concern about data privacy, suggesting that aged records (let’s say case records >5 years old) are better (read safer and more secure) archived outside of the live system, and accessible strictly to limited users. LBi HR Help Desk can accommodate that request, but we ask why. Our hosted systems provide the highest level of data security possible, with layer after layer of security designed to manage the most confidential data. We are HIPAA and SSAE16 Type II certified, Safe Harbor certified, including multiple additional certifications and industry compliances. And user defined security levels provide our clients with the ability to restrict access to data based on your policies and rules.

Besides, aged records don’t automatically become more confidential or sensitive over time based on age alone.

Sometimes the question is about relevance. Who cares about 5, 6, 7 years or older data? Please refer to paragraph #1. More and more our clients are taking reporting to the next level and creating powerful analytics to gain a complete perspective on the employee population as a whole, as well as analyzing different trends for different worker segments. If this is your goal as well, then the more data you have access to, the more accurate and relevant the results will be.

There is one possible exception to making unlimited data available. Some LBi clients prefer to limit employee access to their case history (typically about 2 years of history) in order to eliminate confusion over questions that were asked in the past that may have a different response today. Company policies change, and HR needs to ensure employees are always viewing current information. So HR can provide 100% of data history to HR users while limiting employee access via the Help Desk employee portal.

For HR users, LBi highly recommends never purging older data, even if it is meant to be archived for access in other systems. The entire live HR Help Desk database is always available at your fingertips for extraction and use wherever you choose. Computer storage is very inexpensive, so take full advantage of it to achieve the greatest benefit out of your HR Help Desk system.