Information Consolidation: Organizational Spring Cleaning (Part 3)

In this article, the last installment of the three-part series, we'll cover the remaining steps in the information consolidation process, making it easier for you to take advantage of critical business resources and boost the productivity of your teams.

Resource Article

Previously, we outlined the initial steps you can use to de-clutter and streamline your company's information assets.

Step 1. Identify team members
Step 2. Identify the scope and timelines
Step 3. Study potential users
Step 4. Identify the solution

Continuing now with the fifth step, it's time to gather all pertinent company information.


Gather all the information

Home Spring Cleaning:

Now it's time to gather all the items within the scope of your spring cleaning project in one area of your home so you can focus your efforts. Maybe for a week or two, you park your car in the driveway and use your garage as a mini warehouse.

Organization Information Consolidation:

Based on your findings report, gather all the relevant information sources that pertain to the end users' needs. As you gather them, you may choose to categorize them for easier review/analysis. For example, you may have these categories:

  • Processes and procedures

  • Reports

  • Handbooks and manuals

  • Standards and guidelines

  • Cheat sheets and job aids

  • Training resources and job aids

  • Technical documents

  • FAQs

To gather the documents, ask end users and key stakeholders to submit their most cherished sources of information. These sources can be hard copies, electronic files, website data-anything and everything you can find.

During this gathering process, it's important to weed out the documents that are obviously obsolete so your analysis can focus on the most important files.


  • Before you gather the documents, define a method to store them temporarily, and assign gatekeepers to receive and store according to the chosen method.

  • Use a tracking spreadsheet or database that lists every document, its category and who submitted it


Evaluate the information

Home Spring Cleaning:

It's time to evaluate every single item, deciding whether to keep, toss, donate or repurpose.

Organization Information Consolidation:

As you sort through all the gathered content, evaluate each document for accuracy, validity, quality, scope, reliability, credibility and clarity. You want to identify:

  • The most important chunks of information, either a complete document or pieces of the document

  • Overlaps or duplicated information, so you know what to condense

  • Conflicting information, so you can determine the most correct content

Be sure to employ stakeholders and end user groups for this step in the process. You may select "referees" to resolve differences of opinion and conduct peer reviews of each other's evaluations. Also ask for volunteers to test information referencing systems and tools to ensure they reflect the most current version.


  • Update your tracking spreadsheet with your evaluation results.

  • Don't worry about rewriting or creating new documents at this point.


Restructure the information

Home Spring Cleaning:

Next, organize the items you intend to keep so they can be easily accessed and kept neat by all the family members. Add each item to the most appropriate storage solution you've already built.

Then bring your family in, and explain how everything is organized. Define family rules about removing and replacing items and keeping the storage solution tidy. Ensure everyone understands and is willing to follow those rules.

Organization Information Consolidation:

Obviously, some of the information may need to be restructured. Use these helpful hints to help with the process:

  • Don't reinvent the wheel - if a document works effectively as is, leave it alone.

  • Involve the end users! They can help break the information into usable chunks and identify key vs. unnecessary information.

  • Develop document templates for each information category you identified in step four, and use these templates for anything you restructure, rewrite or create from scratch.

  • Copy, paste, chunk, organize, rewrite, condense, simplify and finalize documents with a keen focus on users' needs, duties and tasks.

  • Concentrate on accuracy, simplicity, style, word choice and desired message.

  • Share each new or revised document with selected end users, and get their feedback. Then implement their feedback into the final versions.

  • Load the final documents into your selected information management solution.

  • Begin marketing the new solution to end users to help them prepare for the change. Remember: effective change management is key to user acceptance.

  • Educate users on the new solution, and provide support as they begin using it.

  • Pilot the program with end users who have been involved in the process, and get their feedback. Also get input from the other key stakeholders. Analyze and implement their ideas in the final product.


  • When someone identifies the need for a new document, whom should they contact?

  • Who will act as information developers: researching the topics, writing/revising as necessary and getting feedback from stakeholders?

  • Who will be the gatekeepers to the solution, ensuring that new and revised documents are stored in the proper area?

  • How often should the solution be updated: as needs are identified, once a month, once a quarter?

  • Who will communicate the changes to end users?


Share your process, challenges and successes with others

Home Spring Cleaning:

Invite your friends and neighbors over to enjoy your tidy home. When they're all jealous and want to know how you managed the seemingly impossible task, tell them! After all, shouldn't everyone enjoy the benefits you've realized?

Organization Information Consolidation:

After you've gone through the information consolidation process for one target group, create a lessons learned report and share it with other groups. By educating them on your process, challenges and successes, they will be more inspired and prepared to try the process for their own part of the organization.

Although I wish my mother used this streamlined process each year we experienced our spring cleaning ritual, I enjoy using it now with Michaels & Associates as we work with clients. If you would like to know more about how we can solve your information consolidation problems, feel free to contact us or join the conversation in the comments section of this article. Also, if you have your own organizational spring cleaning experiences to share, we'd love to hear from you.

Continue reading:
Information Consolidation: Organizational Spring Cleaning (Part 1) →
Information Consolidation: Organizational Spring Cleaning (Part 2) →

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