The IGI Tackles Information Governance for All

The Two Bobs, Office SpaceThe Information Governance Initiative (IGI) released their 2014 Annual Report this week. I was actually sent a preview copy, but I was at the beach and it took me a while to get to reading the entire report. I could have readily written a simple write-up based upon the great executive summary, but I wanted to dig deeper.

I am glad that I did. It is easy to argue with the conclusions but without reading the facts behind them, it is wasted effort. That is one thing that I really like about the report, there was real thought into what the results of their surveys and conversations meant. That is something that you don’t see in many of these reports.

Defining Information Governance

The IGI offers a definition for Information Governance. It is fine for a working definition. No definition is perfect but I don’t see the point in quibbling over official definitions like I did when I started writing. The important points are there.

  • It is more than Records Management and eDiscovery.
  • Leveraging the value from information is as important as mitigating any risk/costs from keeping it too long.

The CIGO Role

This is one point on which I agree and disagree with the IGI. Yes, Information Governance needs more exposure at the Executive level. We just don’t need another CxO role. As I’ve discussed before, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) should own Information Governance and leave some of the technical details to the Chief Technology Officer (CTO). The CIO should have a direct report that manages the Information Governance of the organization full time and that person should be well known to the CEO, but the Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO) title is a bit much.

Think of it like this. We have Chief Financial Officers (CFOs). Do we have Chief Financial Governance Officers? We don’t because the the governance of money is part of the job. In 10 years, if we are lucky, Information Governance will be part of the core operations of business will not clamor for more than a Director or VP title. Why not just start there and have them report to the CIO?

Not Just Policies

Agreed. Policies are nice, but it needs to be part of the culture. The tools are important, but the processes are the tricky part. In the industry, the processes have involved too much human interaction. We need to optimize those processes to make sure they aren’t creating substantially more work for the everyday person working in the organization. We need to embed policies into procedures in such a way they are automated by technology.

The Market is Moving, but Fast Enough?

Here is the thing. People want to buy Information Governance. Vendors want to sell it. Practitioners want to implement it. Yet the projects still take too long.


There are many reasons. They start with trying to do too much out of the gate. They continue with people starting with the technology and not with a vision of how work will be done in the final end-state. They conclude with disconnects between the needs of the organization and the needs of the people trying to get things done.

There is no single plug-and-play methodology that will universally work. While many organizations have very similar business models, their current state and political environment is unique.

  • Define ideal Information Governance environment, aka the Vision
  • Identify areas of greatest risk
  • Identify areas of greatest unrealized value
  • Tackle the areas, one at a time, that provide the greatest impact for the effort required
  • Remember that the goal is constant improvement, not instant perfection

Beyond that, it is all tools that help achieve each of those steps. Not technology tools, but analysis that helps you reach each decision with confidence that you are more right than wrong.

Waiting for the perfect decision implies that the perfect decision is actually possible. It isn’t. Not today. We are still working to accurately quantify the value from these efforts. We know it exists but reaching numbers that everyone trusts is going to take some more time.

Read the report. Realize that nobody has Information Governance conquered yet. Get smart people with open minds to help you on your journey because things are going to change a lot before you are finished.

Good luck.

Joining the Practitioners at the Information Governance Conference

The Information Governance Conference LogoLast week I talked about my upcoming visit to the Information Governance Exchange, which is an event filled with business owners and decision makers. The next week in September, the 8th through the 10th, I will be winging my way up to Hartford, CT for the Information Governance Conference (InfoGovCon).

The InfoGovCon will be filled with practitioners participating in an agenda filled with different perspectives on Information Governance from multiple industries. There are also training sessions from ARMA, the Information Governance Initiative, and many others.

While there, I am presenting on Removing the “Work” from Information Governance. Sounds interesting but what does that mean?

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Information Governance and Records Management Need to get Radical Together

A couple weeks ago I ranted that we were beginning to make many of the same mistakes with Information Governance that we had made with Enterprise Content Management (ECM), and to some extent Records Management. The post stimulated posts from James Lappin and George Parapadakis.

I respect both of them and it is entertaining to see them taking completely opposite approaches to the problem. It would be entertaining, for me at least, to see them debate the issue. I suspect it would get quite…energetic.

Of course, being on extremes, they both missed the mark.

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Information Governance Repeating the Same Mistakes

One thing I’ve been doing a lot of recently is observing the rise of Information Governance. It is eating all the bandwidth that Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Information Management, and Records Management have historically consumed. All the same players are involved; each trying to make a name for themselves.

As I participated in today’s #InfoChat, I quickly realized that the exact same chat could have taken place 10 years ago. Just substitute #ECM for #InfoGov and it would fit. There were no “new” ideas presented, just slight twists on the same concepts that have been pushed for the last 20 years.

We get it. Success requires “People, Process, and Technology.” How about telling us how those factors should behave and work together? What new technology might help smooth processes to make people’s live easier?


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Information Governance is a Journey

Scene from Stand videoI’ve been talking a lot about Information Governance of late. The reason I’ve been doing it is because if it simply becomes a term used in place of Records Management we will have wasted an opportunity. Information Governance is different. It needs to be different.

Records Management failed. We need a new approach. Information Governance has the potential to be that new approach, if we tackle it correctly. If we get lazy, we will be fighting the same battles for another decade.

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Content Management Step 5, Dispose of that Information

Mount Trashmore, VA BeachWelcome to weird, mystical world where we are now permitted to get rid of expired information. I phrase it like that because we live in a world where we are permitted to dispose of information, but never automatically.

How many hours are lost reviewing information in order to determine if it is okay to remove? How much information is kept because we are unsure? Why do we even need to get rid of information?

That last question is easy to answer and not in the way you expect.

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Content Management Step 4, Protect that Information

Protecting our information is, in many ways, the trickiest concept in making Information Governance profitable. To many people, it is the same as controlling information. After all, how can you protect information if you don’t control it first?

I have a better question. How can you protect information if you don’t capture and organize it? How can you even control something that you aren’t protecting?

The real problem is that too many organizations blend control and protect into one concept or set of rules. They are distinct and need to be treated as such.

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Making Information Governance Pay

Lots of MoneyIn May, I will be speaking on a panel on The Economics of a Successful ILG Program at the Document Strategy Forum in Connecticut. When Joe Shepley first asked me to speak, I was a little hesitant. Explaining how a successful Information Governance program contributes to the bottom line has been one of the greatest challenges for the industry.

Joe assured me that it would be easy. This is the same Joe that wrote that nobody cares about compliance because it doesn’t pay. I heartily concurred with that assessment. Now I am talking about how it does pay.

What have I done?

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ARMA Calls for a Revolution

I’ve been talking for a while about how we need to mix things up in the space. Records Management as we know it is dead and it has dragged Enterprise Content Management (ECM) down with it. We need to completely change things to get back on track.

While I was attending the ARMA conference, ARMA’s president, Julie Colgan, said that Records Management needed to evolve. I said that it wasn’t enough. Records Managers need to revolt against the system and change things. Julie saw the comment on twitter and promised a response.

Well, today Julie gave a response.

I also believe that RIM needs a revolution, but in order to get there, we first need the professionals in the space to be ready to revolt.

Let’s face it. As much as Records Management, and ECM as a whole, has failed, the needs for proper Information Governance has not changed. Organizations still have the same requirements.

We need to work WITH the Records Management professionals. We need to work together to find a way to meet the requirements of the organization while addressing the central failure point, which is that existing solutions make every employee a Records Manager.

They don’t want to be Records Managers.

I personally welcome ARMA to the battle. The members of ARMA have knowledge that we need. They also have ideas. I saw many speakers at the conference calling for a new approach. We need to learn how to relieve people from the burden of managing records to allow them to focus upon their jobs.

Shall we start a revolution together?

[Note: For a webinar discussion inspired by this post, head over here.]