The 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.