November 1, 2018

An Information Strategy with Built in Buy-in

7 minute read

What Information Management (IM) activities should we focus on? Are we ready to take the next steps to evolve IM?

Sound familiar? Gimmal consistently hears that information management programs do not effectively cover the massive amounts of electronic information in most organizations. This results in an inability to find information, high costs of ownership and electronic discovery costs and risk for corporate officers. There is little debate that information and records are an organization’s central resource and have fiscal, competitive and risk-management value. Why is it so hard then to get consensus and buy-in for an effective information management strategy?

The competition for scarce resources is a real struggle, but we have a methodology and toolset for you that drives the focus, alignment and buy-in necessary for successful management of one of your most critical assets.

Gimmal's methodology begins and ends with evaluating how your organization is meeting your key focus areas and objectives.

Establish the baseline before selecting the journey

What is your organization's information management maturity? Put another way, do you know where your strengths and weaknesses are for governing and managing electronic and physical content? These are difficult questions to answer because IM is both a big undertaking and an ongoing, ever changing set of activities. Too many information management programs start down an implementation path that seems to check all the boxes for what other organizations are doing without first identifying whether it is the correct path for their specific organization. There is no cookie cutter path to information management, but there are some lessons learned to start from.

Gimmal has found the best starting points emerge from establishing baseline, short term, and stretch goals for your organization. There are many different ways to identify these gaps and focus areas, however one good model that we utilize is the Gimmal Information Management Maturity Matrix. This model measures your organization against a standard set of criteria across a variety of information management categories. For example, do you have an information lifecycle defined for your content that governs the business rules that should be applied to different types of content as they move from creation to disposition? If yes, is this locally defined, globally defined, measured?  Answers to these type of questions help set your maturity baseline.

Define your goals and a plan to achieve them.

This process is not only about assigning numbers to your information management maturity level. It is also about the discussions that lead to these end results which can yield some interesting findings. By bringing together a group that represents Legal, Records Management, Information Technology, Compliance, along with a cross-section of business functions, misunderstandings are brought to light which can heavily influence both the current assessment of where the organization is, as well as initiatives that are already under way that may not have been communicated broadly.

Uncovering these items will help build a solid assessment and provide a foundation for future recommendations that will be more on target with what your company really needs from the perspectives of compliance, risk mitigation, cost, and business drivers.

“So, all I have to do is bring everyone into a room to get alignment on our IM direction?”

Not quite.

How do I align across stakeholders with divergent views?

The challenge when building or sustaining an IM program is that there are typically several stakeholders, from the lines of business to IT to Legal to records managers. Selecting the right focus areas for your projects and activities can be both politically charged and overwhelming because these groups do not often work from a common understanding of the problem or even that there is one. Each has their respective areas of expertise and terms, so it is difficult to come together as a cohesive unit to create a program that will evolve Information Management in your organization.

Align priorities to reach your goals.This is why a maturity workshop to align priorities across the company is critical. By getting the right people in the room and reviewing the gaps in short and long term goals, the seeds of trust are planted. The relationship dynamic changes from the competing goals of Records Management versus Information Technology or competing goals of Operations versus Compliance to a partnership to find the focus areas that bring the greatest business value and are worth spending time on.

At the end of the workshop, there should be alignment on current and desired future maturity levels across governance, engagement, access and analytics, user readiness, and adoption. The gaps identified will have documented and agreed on priorities for addressing them, which are great starting points for planning your IM program. This drives a clear vision and direction to stakeholders because there is traceability back to concrete data points. These decisions weren't made in a vacuum. Buy-in is baked in, because everyone involved had a hand in selecting the right ingredients for the program and has weighed the pros and cons that led to the decisions.

Plan the next steps with buy-in built in

Buy-in is critical when rolling out any type of change across the business, but especially in the information management space. You are dealing with something at the center of day-to-day activities that has the potential to slow down productivity instead of increasing it. There is bound to be resistance, and active resistance at that. However, passive resistance, such as not following the rules you set forth, is just as dangerous because it undermines the people, processes, and tools that you put in place for information management across your organization. This is normally the case when you don't have the right level of buy-in and you don't have key executive sponsorship providing the leadership for everyone to follow.

But, that buy-in and sponsorship is difficult to acquire with few departments raising their hand to add yet another item on their plate. The difference here is that, by completing an assessment, your organization has not only reached out for partners in this endeavour, but has actively engaged and worked together with them to define the IM program direction. The story has not only already been told, but it was written by the audience.

Success against a program plan, built from the assessments' resulting key recommendations, will be immediately measurable against the gaps identified. Each project in the program can have clear connections to increasing the level of maturity across multiple categories of information management. The great thing about all of this measurement is that it is not only against standards across industries, but it is truly measuring maturity against your business priorities.

Start with a gap analysis.

In summary, a gap analysis is a critical first step in developing your information management strategy. Setting baseline and future targets, and then aligning those with your internal business partners, will help ensure buy-in is baked in for your future IM program.

Gimmal is invested in setting up our clients for information management success, and has the expertise to help guide your organization along this path. Gimmal can improve the progress of existing programs and systems and significantly streamline new programs by delivering a targeted information management maturity workshop that will bring together the relevant stakeholders in your organization.

The workshop provides an assessment of existing information management practices and systems, a discussion of best practices, and an action plan to focus efforts based on stated goals and priorities.

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