The future is coming fast, and a reactive approach will never be able to keep up. As we build our information governance plans, we should not only use the present as a benchmark, but also anticipate what our business will need from it in the future.
For systems to be successful, they must first be adopted. Time and research has shown that for the best way to ensure adoption is through ease of use. Keeping the process simple for your users will always yield better results, and this is just as true in information management as it is anywhere else.
Focus on streamlining user experience to stay ahead of the curve as your information governance needs develop so that the limitations of your users do not delay your response.
Simplicity and Consistency
One way to achieve a high level of simplicity is through automation. If you keep the burden of managing information invisible to the everyday user, the potentials for risk and delay are kept to a minimum.
There are many ways an organization can set up its information governance program. One that has gained interest due to its inherent simplicity is the automated information governance model. This model is based on setting rules that regulate policies and records retention.
This model is superior because it mostly eliminates human error and the need for judgment. If a record fits the specified rules, it is moved, disposed, or archived automatically. This allows the users to have a much more pleasant experience while the records manager can rest assured knowing the proper rules are implemented correctly.
Of course, without the right software, this process would be extremely time consuming and require the manual review of every record.
By automating the qualification, classification, and declaration of records, organizations can standardize policies across records of all types while allowing for exceptions such as legal holds.
When implemented with the proper software and guidance from the records manager, the system is extremely scalable and flexible to changing business demands.
A Long Road Ahead
Unfortunately, most organizations do not have such an advanced information governance program. In fact, A report from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) shows that 51% of organizations have had data governance incidents in the past 12 months, including 16% undergoing a full data breach. Overall, 45% of business executives state that a lack of a solid information governance program leaves their company open to litigation and data governance risks.
The report goes on to state that 41% of respondents admit that their email management is "chaotic," and 22% report a negative financial impact from cases around electronic records. Additionally, 60% of those surveyed agree that automation is the only way to keep up with the increasing volumes of electronic content. Because of these factors, information governance has been getting a bigger seat at the table, with 28% of organizations stating it is very high on the senior management agenda and 53% of companies implementing new IG initiatives. As for the drivers behind these new initiatives, 61% state compliance is the main reason, 51% are concerned about preventing data loss, and 48% are mainly motivated to create searchable knowledge.
Changing How We Look at Records
Paper records are still all too common in organizations today. Although paper records can have their benefits, the downsides are far more numerous.
A survey from Software Advice uncovered the following statistics:
- Workers in more traditional offices spend an average of six hours per week physically searching for paper documents, while workers in digital offices use document management software to immediately locate what they need.
- Workers in more traditional offices spend an average of eight hours per week creating reports from paper documents. A combined 94 percent of workers in digital offices say this task is made easier with document management software.
If you can't locate your records, how can you even begin to govern them? These findings are in line with what one would expect in the difference between a paper office and a digital workplace. Managing information either in-place or in a separate repository, in the native digital format, quickly and effectively, is a key step in the governance process.
The ability to manage records effectively provides not only for policy application and allow records managers to understand who exactly has access to the record; it is also key to disposition. As far as legal risk goes, it is critical that all your records are governed and managed with a legally defensible retention schedule. All information must be able to be held outside of the defined retention policeis in the case of pending litigation.
Beyond mitigating risk, locating and managing content efficiently is an enormous timesaver. Employees from all departments benefit from information governance, specifically because in almost all organizations, these departments must constantly share business critical documents and information.
Document management software is a key focus in the survey referenced above. It will help you keep documents constantly updated and save time when users search for documents. This front-end experience is a key piece in providing effective information governance.