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Best practices to extract value from your data archive

By Nuria Sanchez | 5 December 2023

At OASIS we know that records management is more than boxes in shelves, and we understand that extracting data from archives, whether they are physical paper archives or digital data repositories, can be a complex and time-consuming process. For that reason, we want to share here are some best practices to consider when extracting data from archives:

  • Define Your Goals: Clearly define the purpose of the data extraction. What do you want to achieve with the extracted data? Having clear objectives will guide your extraction process.
  • Indexing and Cataloguing: Create a detailed inventory of what’s in the archive. This could include file names, dates, document types, or any other relevant metadata. This inventory will help you plan your extraction.
  • Access Permissions: Ensure you have the necessary permissions to access and extract data from the archive, especially if it contains sensitive or private information.
  • Preservation: When dealing with physical archives, take measures to preserve the integrity of the documents. This may involve proper storage, handling, and sometimes digitisation to prevent further degradation.
  • Digitisation: If you’re dealing with physical records, consider digitising them. This makes data extraction and management much easier. High-quality scanning and OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology can be invaluable here.
  • Data Structure: Define the structure in which you want to organize the extracted data. It could be a folder hierarchy for digital data or a cataloguing system for physical archives.
  • Data Quality: Ensure data quality by cleaning, validating, and verifying the extracted information. Data inconsistencies or errors should be addressed during the extraction process.
  • Metadata Collection: Capture metadata associated with the data during extraction. This includes information such as creation date, author, and any other relevant details. Metadata helps with organization and retrieval.
  • Data Security: Protect the data during extraction, transmission, and storage. This is especially important if the data contains sensitive or private information.
  • Documentation: Document your extraction process thoroughly. This documentation should include steps taken, tools used, data structure, and any issues encountered.
  • Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Ensure that your data extraction process complies with all relevant laws and regulations, such as data privacy and intellectual property laws.
  • Data Storage and Retrieval: Have a plan for storing the extracted data securely and a strategy for retrieval when needed. This could involve setting up a database or document management system.
  • Data Disposal: If you’re dealing with physical archives that won’t be retained, follow proper procedures for document destruction and disposal.
  • Documentation Retention: Keep records of the extraction process and related documentation for future reference.
  • Review and Improvement: After the extraction is complete, review the process and identify areas for improvement. This can help streamline future data extraction projects.

Data extraction from archives can be a significant undertaking, and attention to detail and best practices is essential to ensure the success and accuracy of the process. OASIS’ solutions have helped thousands of clients across Europe to extract data value from their archives.

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