What have we learned about Information Governance? 1 of 3

Information Governance Objectives

Information Governance, even if still not recognized as an official discipline by key market analysts, is nevertheless winning a huge battle: to be recognized and adopted as a key corporate program by top level management and information managers. There are different approaches to building an Information Governance program, but the good news is that there is a clear consensus around its objectives:

  • Minimize Risk,
  • Minimize Cost, and
  • Optimize Value.

These three indicators all need to be set and evaluated by organizations engaged in an Information Governance program, based on their expectations and requirements, and included as part of their program scorecard.

The technologies around Information Governance that exist today, allow organizations to assess quite effectively cost and risk factors. But there is still a long road to travel before we see accurate and easy valuations of an organizaton’s information assets. We are waiting for new approaches and models such as Infonomics to emerge.

Information Governance is not a short-term initiative, but a long-term program

Top level management need to take into consideration that the introduction of an Information Governance program is not a quick fix to the organization’s information and compliance ills. Once introduced and Information Governance program will remain with the organization for life. An Information Governance program should be compared to the organization’s corporate governance program or its health and safety program; as something permanent that the organization will always have. This means the establishment and operation of an Information Governance program needs a strong commitment from the executive suite and drive from key sponsors to make it happen, and make it continue. Selected departments from Legal to IT, and from Finance to key Business Units, must commit to the program and must collaborate to make it a success.

Who drives the Information Governance program?

Because Information Governance needs to be owned and driven by a program manager with strong collaborative skills and information management competencies, it is often thought of as something only large organizations can invest in; organizations with the necessary resources such as the Records Managers.

However, small and medium businesses also have compliance issues to manage. They also operate under regulatory scrutiny and they also want to maximize the value of their information. An Information Governance program for these businesses is therefore just as important, but their requirements may differ. For example, small to medium business often take faster decisions, as their time-to-market is their unique opportunity for growth. These businesses will need a solution able to support their requirements and their limited information management and IT resources.

Today, who drives the Information Governance program is not an easy decision to make. Information management professionals are fighting to get a seat in the boardroom, and to have their role in the organization valued and recognized, while information owners and content owners in Business Units or Functional Divisions are struggling to understand key concepts of Information Governance, such as information lifecycles and retention schedules. There is still a long way to go!

Where is the value?

From analysts’ reports and customer surveys, we know that there is a clear need for a new way of managing information. Information is everywhere and organizations are still fighting to extract quantifiable value from it that can add to their bottom line. Worse than this, organizations often don’t even realize how their legacy information may expose them to risks, and the dangers of non-compliance. As a result many organizations, underestimate the opportunity for an Information Governance program to transform their compliance concerns into a proactive approach.

Growth in the number and extent of laws and regulations forces companies to be more vigilant or face expensive penalties. It is important that they are able to interpret and apply these laws and regulations with the same efficacy and transparency as they do their internal information policies.

Conclusions

Information Governance is still an emerging discipline, and still very broad in terms of the technologies available. Many suppliers from software to service vendors try to sell their products by positioning them under the Information Governance umbrella. Once example is the attempt to widen the appeal of eDiscovery tools and services. Law firms and software vendors from that market are trying to enter the Information Governance landscape, but with a more complex message and a temptation to consider only the risk management component that should be part of a more comprehensive Information Governance program. That doesn’t help organization’s to benefit from one unified view on Information Governance.

That is why we need to redefine Information Governance, to bring it back to basics and focus on what organizations really need.

 

To find out more, read part 2.