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?

More Than Records and Compliance

Here is the key principle that makes this concept even possible.

Information Governance’s purpose isn’t Compliance and it is more than Records Management (RM)

The discipline of RM is just one tool that organizations can choose to use as part of their Governance program. Compliance is just one goal. When discussing Information Governance, we should start with what it is, not the how or the why. The what makes the why much clearer.

  • Capture: If it isn’t in the IT ecosystem, then it isn’t a corporate asset. It is either lost or hidden. All information needs to be captured and stored where it can be used.
  • Organized: Throwing things in a big box isn’t enough. It needs to be organized so it can be found and the context in which the information was created can be identified. This ranges from complex hierarchies to basic tagging.
  • Controlled: Information needs to be controlled. This means proper access controls at the proper levels. The goal is not to restrict to the fewest people but to simply define the range of access.
  • Protected: This is more than just security. This is making sure that accidents don’t happen. Information should not be removed as long as it has business value. This is usually where people insert Records Management but it isn’t the only way.

These concepts apply to all information, not just Content. That makes our Information Governance mission harder to accomplish but easier to justify.

Increase Productivity and Accuracy

Part of the reason it has been so hard to justify Information Governance is the fact that we treat it as separate from normal business. Money is tracked from the moment it is earned until the moment it is spent. Employees are tracked from the moment their resume is collected until years after their last day.

We don’t track information that way. We do track financial information but most other information gets left behind. When you look at the broader purpose of Information Governance, it is the same mission that we have faced since we started using digital content.

We want to know where any piece of information is located at any given time so we can find and use the most up-to-date version of that information quickly and efficiently. Any information that no longer has business value shall be disposed of as required in order to prevent incorrect information from being used and improve organizational efficiency.

That is a lot of words. What does it mean?

  • Improved Productivity: When we reduce the time looking for a piece of information, the work to be done with that information can start more quickly. It also helps to create that latest report with the full confidence that the correct information is being used.
  • Reuse/Repurpose: Why start every task from scratch? When someone is in a role long enough, they always have an example to use to start most tasks. When done right, anyone can benefit from what has been done before.
  • Learn from History: Why does an organization perform a process a certain way? When nobody knows, it is usually learned the hard way. Having the information around decisions made in the past has immense value.
  • Make Litigation Simpler: This is not risk avoidance. If the amount of material to be sorted through as part of an eDiscovery request is reduced by 80%, that translates directly into savings, regardless of the outcome of the case.

These are just some areas that we will be discussing during the panel. It is going to be a great discussion up in Connecticut. We are already starting the debate among ourselves so we should be ready for an entertaining session in May.

See you there.

4 thoughts on “Making Information Governance Pay

  1. Great post. The what and why’s are spot on. The different governance programs in companies often compete vs. collaborate. Working together as a progressive group is key in balancing what is needed for IG’s what/why to better marry with the what/why of the end user and business.

    Our CEO gave us the following quote for our internal site.

    “Records management is important at P&G. First and foremost, it’s part of P&G’s commitment to good governance. Second, it helps ensure we have the right information available at the right time in the right place to make smart business decisions. Third, it makes us more efficient and helps keep costs low — and lower costs ensure P&G brands provide superior consumer value.“

    I’m checking to see if I can swap out Records Management with Information Governance for our Compliance Community of Practice which is our IG umbrella of all the different disciplines involved (Info Sec, IT, RIM, Privacy, etc.).

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