The amount of content you store – structured and unstructured – shows no signs of slowing down. You are inundated with information, some which you need to keep, some you don’t. Enterprise content management helps you manage that information, but you also need an underlying information governance model and supporting technology to help you figure out not only what information you have and where, but what to do with it.
Information Governance is not a one-time project
The biggest mistake that many make is assuming information governance is a one-time project. Set up some policies and procedures and your plan is in place. It’s not that simple. But it also doesn’t have to be complex. The best way to think of information governance is as an umbrella term that supports a number of use cases that require some type of activity around your information.
Or think of it this way:
Information governance is a set of problems and a set of solutions you take on to solve those problems.
Four common use cases for information governance
When you break information governance down into a series of projects or “mini-strategies”, it’s much easier to ensure your information is well managed going forward. Here are four of the most common use cases (or projects):
- Records Management: A system for the collection, indexing and analysis of records produced anywhere – and by any system – in your organization.
- File Analytics: Cross-repository inventory and analysis of content to uncover compliance deviation and execute policies to drive bulk actions to delete ROT and quarantine PII. This is the most common use case we discuss with customers today.
- Application Archiving: Offload inactive content from production applications to reduce costs, increase compliance and rationalize infrastructure.
- Application Decommissioning: Capturing and archiving content from systems to ensure ability to retrieve and report after decommissioning of the source system.
Making the case for information governance
It’s very hard to get information governance approved. Getting to the top of the list for any of the projects listed above is a real struggle. To help you prove how important these types of projects are, here are some points you can focus attention on:
- Meeting regulatory compliance requirements – new compliance requirements happen regularly and it’s costly to fall out of compliance.
- Reduce legal exposure – you put yourself at great legal risk when you store information in shared folders or cloud-based applications like Office 365 or Dropbox that you shouldn’t have there. Things like credit card numbers and other personally identifiable information.
- Reduce data theft exposure – same issue for data theft. Never assume you won’t get hacked. Assume you will, it’s just a matter of when. If you are a company that stores everything forever, the surface area you make available for data theft is enormous.
- Reduce storage and license costs – Traditional ROI analysis also make a great case for an information governance project. Reducing storage costs is one; reducing license costs, operating costs and other unnecessary expenses are also important to point out.
- Eliminate costs associated with obsolete systems – you’re ready to move to a new application or you no longer need an application – you don’t want to keep these systems around just to store the content they currently manage. What you need to do is archive the information you need to keep and then decommission these systems reducing costs.
- Reduce architectural complexity – this is particularly important with companies that regularly acquire other companies and end up with multiple systems to manage. An IG strategy would give these companies an organized way to figure out what systems and information they need; how to best archive information they must keep and decommission apps no longer required.
Success factors for information governance initiatives
You won’t be successful if you try to do everything at once. The complexity will kills any small successes you have. What works best is to take on an information governance solution that has a clear beginning and end, a clear scope and a clear success factors. For example, don’t say you are going to set up records management for the entire enterprise; say you are going to set up records management for a specific department and a specific type of content. Another example is to pick an obsolete application that costs a lot of money to maintain and set up a project to archive its content (or destroy it) and shut down the application.
In other words your IG strategy will find success if you think in terms of:
- A tactical initiative in service of a long-term strategy
- An effective solution design that fits an enterprise strategy
- Specific near term objective that defines the scope of the initiative
- Defined justification: Compliance, Cost or Business enablement
- Scope defined by content types or use cases
- Effective executive sponsorship
Ken Lownie, Everteam VP Operations recently spoke about information governance and how it fits into the overall structure of enterprise content management in the KMWorld webinar: The Future of Enterprise Content Management. If you’d like to listen to his full discussion, you can watch the replay on demand here.