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The majority of organizations have at least attempted to create an information governance program. Some have been successful and some not so much. Over the past few months, I’ve spoken with both types of organizations. In most cases, the successful ones all had the same common denominator: All of them had a leader, a clearly defined goal and made sure the program aligned with the business need.
Let’s briefly discuss each one.
A specific person or group within the organization must take ownership and responsibility for developing and driving the program. More often than not, this task will fall on one individual. It’s just the nature of the beast that is Corporate America. Everyone wants to be called a leader, but very few individuals want the responsibility that comes with the title.
In short, this individual will need to have excellent inter-personal skills, an in-depth understanding of how the business operates and basic knowledge of the information technology infrastructure and the repository locations where content resides. Indeed, it will take a very special individual.
It’s important to note, however, that the leader should not do all the work. The role of the leader is to ensure that the information governance program moves forward and is successful and this can’t happen if this individual works in a siloed environment. All departments and business units within the organization must be involved in the process.
Once the leader is known, it’s now time to establish a value statement for the program from which to measure its success. The organization must define what content it has, where it is stored, who should own it, what is the size and how may duplicates there are.
For example, an organization may find that it has thousands of file shares and hundreds of SharePoint sites that store much duplicative data. In this case, the goal of the information governance program would be to reduce the amount of repositories, define who’s responsible for each and eliminate duplicate data as best it can. These are clear goals that an information governance program will achieve.
An information governance program must meet the needs of the business. The reality is if it doesn’t, there’s no reason to develop such a program in the first place. Consider the culture of a law firm and what makes it profitable. The formula is pretty simple and straightforward, the more billable hours equals more profit. So, the information governance program must demonstrate how it will increase a lawyer’s billable hour. Sure, it will save technology cost by reducing the amount of repositories and data stored in those storage locations, but this should not be the selling point of an information governance program.
One way is to explain that the information governance program will ensure that the lawyer has the right information needed to serve its clients at the right time. If executed properly, a lawyer will be able to access all information in connection with a certain case in one screen. Gone are the days of searching through multiple repositories and retrieving physical documents from an off-site storage vendor, only to never find the right information needed. It’s extremely counterproductive and doesn’t make much business sense. The reality is that if information is properly governed this will not be the case. It’s as simple as that!
These three keys to information governance success are meant to be a starting point. The reality is that there are no easy or “right” answers on how to develop an information governance program. Each organization must learn from trial and error and be prepared to fail and learn from its failures. Accept that it will take time to achieve information governance nirvana. But the important thing is to keep fighting and never give up.