June 29, 2017

5 Fatal Information Governance Mistakes You Must Avoid

4 minute read

What does it take for a well-intentioned information governance initiative to fail? As records and information manager roles are adapting to adjust to the ever-changing business environment, they must keep in mind some critical mistakes to avoid making. This post lays out five ways to become a data governance leader at the core of your organization's information governance strategy and avoid these costly pitfalls.

1. Not Engaging with Every Department

Data governance leaders have to establish relationships with every business unit and have the ability to work cross-functionally in all areas of their role. As we have discussed before, all departments create data that can be classified as records and therefore needs to be included. Not only will this improve your information governance, it will spur communication between these "silos" that so often exist within large or even mid-sized businesses.

If there is an existing cross-function initiative, records management needs to have a seat at the table. If not, data governance is a great topic to broach this subject as every team can see the value of managing data and records.


2. Not Involving Your Users

The success of an information governance strategy will rely on many people, most of who will be the average user, that may have little to no knowledge of the importance of data governance. Educating these users should be a cornerstone of this program. Although we want to automate as much of the "heavy lifting" such as applying policies and legal holds away from the average user, establishing a base of knowledge will hopefully eliminate any critical errors they may have otherwise made.

Additionally, how can you as a data governance leader share any insights you might have gleaned from handling all of these records? If you spot a process inefficiency, who in each department can you go to and discuss solutions with? Laying this out on even a simple spreadsheet can be extremely useful. Also, it can be helpful to position yourself and your team as a place where feedback can be reported.

There is often hesitance from employees to report issues to their direct managers (especially if their manager was the one who implemented a particular inefficient process). By providing a central team that works with every department, you can be a neutral sounding board.


Read More: 10 Questions to Ask Before Buying an Information Governance Solution


3. Forgetting About The Customer

Often, information managers (and plenty of other internal-facing employees) can lose sight of the end goal of any business: please the customer and create revenue! How is your overall information governance program benefiting your customers? Is customer data being appropriately managed and how can it be better leveraged to improve processes? Serving the customers' needs should be at the forefront of every department and records management is no exception.

More importantly given recent large-scale data breaches, is the safety of their data. Establishing proper and detailed data governance rules around customer records is essential to maintaining trust and a solid reputation.

4. Not Being Strategic

Being a leader in any department requires strategic thinking. When it comes to information governance, this involves not only understanding how records management can reduce risk but how it can drastically improve productivity and impact an organization financially. For example, a software investment that may have initial or recurring cost can easily show ROI when properly implemented.

By approaching this strategically, potentially even through a pilot program to show "proof-of-concept" to the executive team, you can show the ability to try alternate solutions to problems they have potentially plagued a business for years.

A data governance leader must also be able to translate the strategic vision of the executive leadership to their team as well as the directors of the respective departments.Acting as a strategic liaison can provide immense value during any cross-functional initiative.

5. Not Taking The First Step

When large organizations establish an initiative it can end in a bloated program that causes as many new problems as it was supposed to solve. Again, a data governance leader will have to think strategically about how different tools, business units and workflows will mesh together. The benefit of initiating a cross-functional program from the start is you can control the scope.

This is not to say this should be rushed but it is much better to move a few small but effective changes into place rather than plan and plan and never act. Leadership is also about taking risks and evaluating those actions to understand where they can be improved and refined.

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