May 3, 2017

A Successful Information Governance Program is About Business, Not Data

3 minute read

Historically, getting buy-in from executives for an information governance program has been difficult. For those in the industry, this probably comes as no surprise. An information governance program is generally not seen as a priority or as something that generates revenue.

The truth is, however, it can and should produce revenue. By approaching it from a business perspective, rather than one based on purely on data, the likelihood of resources being allocated towards starting or expanding an IG program increase dramatically. Statistically, something like 90% of information governance projects fail. If the approach to not only the funding but also the execution does not change, neither will this statistic.

We need to focus on how we can leverage the organization's information, an incredibly valuable asset, to generate revenue. For example, how can an information governance program save time for employees searching for the correct document or ensure the company will not suffer a financial loss from an accidental data leak.

Small and mid-size firms sometimes believe – incorrectly – that they “cannot afford to pay for compliance.” Yet, according to a recent study, the cost of non-compliance is almost three times the cost of compliance. And, like many other business functions and processes, information governance can be effectively outsourced, at greatly reduced cost.

Another mistake made by small and mid-size businesses is to simply leave information governance to the IT department. Yet, it is virtually impossible for the IT dept. to have the legal, regulatory and cybersecurity knowledge -- or the decision-making authority -- necessary to implement an information governance program, across the company. Information governance is an enterprise risk management function that must be overseen by the C-suite or the board, and taken as seriously as the company takes finance and operations.

Explain What’s In It For Them

It’s not all about you! It’s about what’s in it for the C-Level executive. In order to understand what’s in it for the C-Level, you need to have a basic understanding of how you can impact the business. It’s not necessary for you to be a subject matter expert on business management, but you had better be able explain how you can impact the business.

For example, what drives profit to your business? What keeps these C-Level executives awake at night? These are topics you as an information governance professional must understand and be able to articulate. Clearly explain how information governance can put more money into their pockets by impacting the business.

Own The Initiative

Once you have been able to successfully show the value and impact of information governance to the C-Level, you must own the outcome of this initiative. If you have been given the “green light”, then don’t hesitate to move forward. The last thing these executives need is another dependent. Remember, as an IG professional, you were hired by the organization to do a job.

Yes, you may need to put your sales cap on and sell your IG initiative, but after you have done so, it’s time to be an in-house leader and prove that you will own the outcome. It’s not practical to engage with executives every step of the way to get their blessing. If you do, your initiative has a high likelihood of failure. Be proactive and as Nike says “Just Do It.”

Unfortunately there is no Rosetta Stone or Google translation option for learning the language of the C-Suite. You will have to roll up your sleeves, put your sales cap on and drive this one home.

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