According to Wikipedia, the term “Small Ball” in baseball means:
“An offensive strategy in which the batting team emphasizes placing runners on base and then advancing them into scoring position for a run in a deliberate, methodical way.”
“Small Ball” is out of vogue in the major leagues today — the game is all about home runs and strikeouts at the moment — but an adaptation of the strategy is an awesome approach for driving an enterprise-wide information governance initiative.
We are currently working with a customer who provides a terrific example of how effective it can be to use a series of smaller projects (“small balls”) to build understanding and enthusiasm for information governance.
Small Ball Strategy Part 1: Getting on Base
Alex is on the management team for a division of a (very) large diversified financial services company, and within that part of the organization he is responsible for “records management.” Alex has immediate goals to address critical issues in his division but is also charged with helping the whole enterprise improve their information governance capabilities and practices.
A less strategic person might try to “sell” an enterprise information governance initiative at the highest level of the organization. They would make the case that effective governance is critical to risk reduction and compliance, and would suggest allocating budget and resources for an initial strategy and planning initiative.
But that initial strategy and planning initiative could easily take a year and there is a good chance that less strategic person would still be fighting for budget approval while Alex has already driven multiple projects forward.
That’s because Alex is a VERY strategic person. He found a small budget at the end of last year and used it to license everteam.discover to connect to shared folder and SharePoint environments. Using .discover he was able to locate sensitive (personal) data and remediate it while enhancing the classification of the remaining content and associating it with retention rules.
Small Ball Strategy Part 2: Advancing the Runners
The first project was limited in time and scope, and also limited to just one part of the organization. The goal was to get a quick win and avoid having to convince everyone that there is necessarily one single approach or single platform for addressing all the organization’s information governance needs. That project is being completed now.
Meanwhile, Alex was able to identify additional projects that fall under the banner of Information Governance. The next project, now underway, is to use everteam.discover to do the same thing for another part of the organization. As with the first project, the focus is to connect to a set of unstructured data repositories, find targeted content, eliminate obsolete and duplicate items, and enhance the metadata for the remaining items so they can be effectively classified.
Even as that project was being defined, another one was identified. This time, it was a need to decommission a system that came along with an acquisition, but which is no longer needed. The problem is that it contains a vast amount of information, only a small percentage of which is required to be retained. So the project is to connect to the application, identify the content to preserve, and then extract and archive it so the application can be shut down. We are talking to them about everteam.archive along with everteam.discover to address this project.
Small Ball Strategy Part 3: Driving in the Runs
Three projects — and a few others — are all in various states of progression at Alex’s company. Through these projects, a lot of people are being exposed to the principles of information governance, and are becoming aware that there are solutions available to address compliance, decommissioning and record retention requirements. As the projects progress, they provide a templated approach that other teams across the organization can leverage.
In this manner, Alex is using the early successes to build an understanding of what an Information governance toolset looks like, and how these projects can be brought together under one enterprise-wide program. The result will be an enterprise initiative, with a common strategy and shared toolset, which executes as a series of projects, each focused on a particular challenge. That, of course, would be the grand slam.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ultimately, the value of Information Governance is in reducing costs, addressing compliance requirements and increasing the value and use of the information produced and stored by the organization. None of these benefits happen while an organization is in the processing of developing an information governance strategy or developing an enterprise taxonomy or building a multi-year plan. The payback only comes when real projects are completed that address specific information governance challenges or opportunities.
At Everteam, we are big fans of the “Small Ball” approach to Information Governance. The work Alex is doing at his company is one of the best examples we have seen of Small Ball in action.
Let me know what you think, and share with me how you are playing the information governance game. You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about our everteam.discover solution, register for our upcoming webinar “How To Find, Clean, Organize and Manage Information Across the Enterprise.”