Compliance: Should you retain your data or retire your application?

If you have your sights set on cleaning applications clutter, make sure you understand what should stay and what can go.


Make your legal and compliance teams vital partners as you build a business case for application retirement.

If you are considering a leaner application portfolio in 2014, you are not alone. Many companies are discovering that they can recoup millions of dollars in staffing and technology costs. Before you start, however, consider whether you are putting your organization in legal jeopardy from a compliance standpoint.

Answer “true” or “false” to the questions below to measure how well you understand the legal obligations to retain data for compliance and regulation issues:

  • When it comes to application retirement, compliance, and regulation, issues matter only in industries that are under heavy legal scrutiny.

    FALSE. You need to comply with data policies and legal regulations in any industry where there is the potential for audit, not just those that are highly politicized or under heavy scrutiny. Industries such as healthcare and financial services have an abundance of privacy and security concerns. It follows that compliance would be more heavily regulated as a result. But even manufacturing and telecommunications companies deal with legacy reporting regulations.

    Make sure any application retirement project you undertake is a collaborative, cross-organizational effort involving all stakeholders. If your company has a global presence, your due diligence needs are even more complex. Make sure you take into consideration local regulations in any country you do business in.

    Bottom line: Make your legal and compliance teams vital partners as you build a business case for application retirement.
  • Most regulations require that you maintain your data only for legal purposes, and not the entire application where your data resides.

    TRUE. You will find that records or compliance managers may have a propensity for increasing the complexity of your projects. Their job is, after all, to ensure your company follows regulations. However, the “rules” surrounding data retention do not typically necessitate an entire application stack running in the background. Most of the time, compliance simply means preserving chain of command and data accessibility. This is something you can achieve with the help of data migration and archiving tools, long after costly infrastructure has been shut off.

    Bottom line: The more you know and understand relevant policies and retention schedules, the better. Make sure you understand the intricacies of retaining data and retiring legacy applications. Bring in your legal team to ensure you are not putting compliance at risk.
  • If you don’t need data anymore, you can delete it.

    TRUE. The more you understand about compliance requirements, the more legacy applications you will find to retire. In many cases, holding data is no longer necessary. Remember that data migration itself is a significant project. The less data you need to move, the more money and time you will save.

    Bottom line: Take time in advance to understand which data is critical and how long you need to archive it. Less data makes for a less complicated network.

Regulatory compliance is extremely important—and not something you should ever overlook. But you can adhere to data policies at less cost and with less effort with the right approach to application retirement.

Read “A Practical Guide for Legacy Application Retirement” and determine what makes the most sense for your organization.

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