Strengthen Your Approach to Information Governance

By Tori McClurg

Topics: Financial Services Records and Information Management | Law Firm Information Governance

Is your IG policy falling short? It can be challenging to manage the myriad of information in today's digital age, but doing so is imperative to your company's success. Barclay Blair, an internationally recognized authority on IG, has some valuable tips for IG professionals.

Information governance (IG) is becoming widely recognized as a top business priority. Many IG professionals, however, have no idea where to start when it comes to properly managing their information. Successful IG involves a framework supported by the right people, processes and technology. Barclay Blair, an internationally recognized authority on IG, surmises that most IG policies are doing companies more harm than good. So what can be done to strengthen your approach to IG?

Establish an Effective Framework

"The reality is that we're rapidly losing control of enterprise IT," Blair said, "and there's no centralized control of an organization."

Most IG policies are outdated and assume that people analyze their retention schedule for each document crossing their desk, which is no longer effective and an absolute fantasy for large and sometimes even small organizations, Blair said. These policies are designed on the basis of a set of assumptions that no longer hold true and will never be true again, he said.

What can IG professionals do to remedy this issue? First, accept that your old policies will no longer do the trick. Create a solution that will effectively cover all aspects of properly managed information in the digital age. Policies should be pragmatic and supported by a technology environment and a human environment that makes them realistic.

Be Proactive Before It's Too Late

A lot of companies come to the realization that their policies are falling short only after something terrible happens. Ineffective IG policies open your organization to lawsuits or other types of risk. For example, storing emails months past their retention date could mean increased vulnerability to security breaches involving private and privileged information.

Additionally, outdated or ineffective IG policies expose your organization to other liabilities because they suggest to the legal system that your organization may be overlooking policies it knows it should be following. Your organization can't claim ignorance if it's already established the importance of IG but is failing to take the right steps to make it effective.

"Most organizations are choosing to be proactive now. It's starting to be perceived as something that you need to do if you're a high-quality organization," said Blair.

Unlock the Value of Your Data

In today's information age, if you're not capitalizing on your data, you may be missing out on your next big opportunity. IG professionals need to deploy an effective solution to ensure their data is managed properly.

According to Blair, 80% of the work IG professionals have to do to use their data is to clean it and ensure that it's authoritative and accurate. Only after these steps are taken can your organization truly begin to benefit from its data.

This idea relates back to information security: With all the data at your organization's fingertips, it's important to protect it. "Information security means not just building a wall, but knowing what you have, where it is, what's its value — and what you need to do to protect it," said Blair.

Design a Brief High-Level Policy

IG cannot be successful without cooperation from the entire organization. The brief IG policy approved by your organization's board needs to discuss why IG policy is being refined, what the goals are and how the changes tie in to the company's mission. This should be short, to the point and applicable to all employees.

Data and information are no longer owned by one department — and they can help determine if your organization thrives. An effective IG policy is an essential part of a company's value. It needs to be implemented from the top down and should be weaved through the culture of the company and the way it operates.

Strengthening your approach to IG with Blair's insights will help your organization make the most of its information.


Records Management Solution Brief
Records Management Solution Brief

Topics: Govern Information

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