August 4, 2017

People Aren't Necessarily Librarians

4 minute read

I learned the Dewy Decimal system in fourth grade, but I'm not sure they teach that any longer!  With modern software, card catalogs and manual sorting are a thing of the past in libraries, and that ease of access should flow through to the digital workplace.

One fundamental truth underlying a "digital workplace" strategy for information management is that it should't be something the end user does. It should be something that happens. The task of defining the rules for governance and compliance belongs to various departments, and providing system support to make this easy belongs to IT. However, both must work together to create an information governance (IG) model.

A report from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) shows that 51% of organizations have had data governance related incidents in the past 12 months, including 16% experiencing a full data breach. Overall, 45% of executives surveyed state that a lack of a solid information governance program leaves their company open to litigation and data governance risks.

Why Do Organizations Need Information Governance?

The report goes on to state that 41% of respondents admit that their email management is "chaotic," with 22% reporting 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 is 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 approaching new IG initiatives. As for the drivers behind these new initiatives, 51% are concerned about preventing data loss and 48% are mainly motivated by creating searchable knowledge. This combination of a need to mitigate risk and simplify processes makes information governance the ideal target for automation.

Relieve End Users from Information Governance

The success of an information governance strategy will rely on many people, though literacy on important information governance practices will always be low. We want to avoid burdening the everyday user, who may have little knowledge of the importance of information governance, simply because that is not what they are employed to do. Information workers all bring unique skill sets and competencies to your organization: it is not reasonable to expect them to master another discipline.

Taking nearly all of the "heavy lifting" such as applying policies and legal holds away from the average user is crucial to effective enterprise content management, and will help to eliminate any major errors that may have otherwise been made.

The majority of knowledge workers in an organization are not directly responsible for the overall information governance. By implementing a solution that automatically tags and classifies records, we can ensure accurate and effective governance behind the scenes.

Unifying Knowledge Requirements Across the Organization

For example, the contracts that a company uses when acquiring new customers will contain sensitive information, and should be treated as records. However, we cannot rely on the sales and accounts receivable teams to properly tag, classify, and route these records through the proper lifecycle. These duties fall outside of their core job description, and their time would be much better spent focusing on sales and accounting activities. This is yet another example of how information governance can save an organization both money and time.

The information governance leader and their team should instead put in place a program involving rules and triggers to automate this process without affecting the end users’ workflows. Getting buy-in from the executive team is a substantial challenge on its own.

We can improve compliance and productivity by designing an information governance program that support transparent information management from the end users. Not only will it help to convince executives of the effectiveness of the solution, it will in fact increase overall adoption throughout the organization.

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