Information Governance for Everybody

We write a lot about data governance for agencies. However, if for instance, you don’t work at a government agency or a highly regulated industry but you keep hearing and reading about information governance. At some point, you start to wonder if you should be practicing this methodology. Are there benefits to having an information governance practice? Are there dangers that having an information governance practice would mitigate? The answers are yes and yes.

Analyst firm, Gartner asserts that information contributes about 20% of an organization’s value. And various industries have revealed data as an asset to improve businesses by slashing extraneous costs, improving client services, and managing risk. Valuing information as an asset is a paradigm shift, unlike any other and organizations are landing on data governance to leverage its worth. In addition, the rapid escalation in scale and velocity makes governance even more vital.

The concept of data governance encompasses managing security, accessibility, usability, and quality of information. In addition, it also includes methods that the organization needs to take to ensure they have reliable, trusted, and secure information to better serve clients and assist strategic decision making. The data governance plan includes policies and tools to enforce the framework. It becomes so important that forward-thinking organizations integrate governance into their overall business goals.

AIIM (Association for Intelligent Information Management) has some interesting statistics regarding the relevance and need for governance. They note a trend toward high-performing organizations considering the criticality of governance, for example, “42 percent of these high performers already had robust plans in place and another 24 percent had made plans to follow. Of the rest, 13 percent had begun their efforts with only some departments, 16 percent had policies that were still in incubation, and only five percent had no formal governance policies at all.”

While information governance has always been associated with risk mitigation activities. Today’s organizations realize that it can be used for improved client services, faster response to market changes, and overall better, data-driven decision-making through analytics and clean data. Here are some ideas to start implementing information governance in your organization:

  • Establish a team- Start with an executive sponsor, you’ll need one to smooth the path. And of course the IT department. If you’ve got in-house legal counsel they would want to be involved also consider staff from the client services team. You’ll also want at least some time from a communications expert as it will be important for the organization to understand how managing and protecting information will improve business and in turn their work-lives. You might be surprised where valuable feedback will come from, so keep your ear to the ground.

  • Inventory what you have- Organizations need to assign both value and risks to the information they own. This will require the exercise of inventorying, understanding, and classifying data. If you lack in-house expertise consider using AIIM or ARMA guidelines or the services of a records management consultant. It’s important to understand what types of data you need to protect, store and access and for how long you need to do so. This exercise is referred to as determining your “retention.”

  • Thoughtfully get rid of what you don’t need- Experts agree that about one-third of data will never be found useful or even used. Some data is better not to hold on to. That’s why you should have legal involvement in determining your retention. Backups are important and should be performed regularly. However, some information is just redundant, obsolete, and trivial which can just bog down your systems. The DCC (while not US-based) provides a good resource regarding the process of what to keep and what to jettison.

While your team can focus on the challenge of creating good governance policies, we can set up Laserfiche to automate and ensure they are enforced. Give me a shout to show you exactly how governance can be improved by Laserfiche.