Records Governance 3: How to Manage Governance for Any Content Type and System

Centralized governance is an great idea. But how do you apply a centralized governance process to content that exists in many different forms in many different systems? Moving everything to one large centralized repository won’t work; in fact, it’s nearly impossible to do. The answer lies in a central information governance system.

First Things First: Centralized Governance Policies

Before you begin looking for a central information governance system, you need to do some work. A centralized system is successful because you have taken the time to define a content strategy that applies across the organization and you have set up centralized governance policies that leverage that content strategy.

A centralized content strategy defines the taxonomy you will use across the entire company. It is a classification and metadata scheme that you apply to all systems and records, both digital and paper. A consistent taxonomy helps you classify things easily and ensures you can quickly find information through a single search.

Governance policies are the policies that define how to manage your records over the entire record lifecycle. Policies define how to manage the record, who owns it and can access it, its retention and disposition policies and so on.

To accurately establish a centralized content strategy and governance policies you have to take an inventory of all your data and information across the company and document all the systems where records are stored, noting any existing rules and taxonomy applied. Then you will need to map this information to a new centralized strategy which will be applied in the new information governance solution.

These things – a content strategy and governance policies – are not tied to a particular technology. They are tied to your business objectives and strategy. They also help you define the requirements for the information governance system you purchase.

Looking for the Right Technology

You have your content strategy and governance policies established. Now it’s time to find the right information governance system to put them in place. Not all information governance systems are the same. So how do you know what’s the best one?

To implement centralized records governance, the type of solution you need must have these important attributes:

A Consistent and Extendable Taxonomy and Metadata

It’s important to define a taxonomy that is used consistently across the organization; we’ve established that already. It’s equally important that the information governance solution you implement can apply that taxonomy and enable you to extend it as your needs change.

A taxonomy and metadata scheme that is consistent yet extendable allows you to define any retention rules and apply them to different document types. A retention policy describes the various activities that take place in your company (HR, Finance, LOBs, etc.) along with any sub-activities for how a record is managed (e.g., how long to keep it, who the owner is, when it is disposed and how, storage location, etc.).

Applying retention rules based on taxonomy means that if you need to update your retention rules, the changes can be automatically applied across all associated records. If you update your taxonomy due new data types, you can quickly add retention rules based on those changes.

Suitable for Any Size Organization, and for Everyone in the Organization

Whether you are a small company or the largest organization in the world, the solution must be flexible enough to suit your requirements.

For the End User: The information governance system must be user friendly for all end users. It needs to follow terminology and taxonomy that users are familiar with. For example, an end user needs to add a new document to the information governance solution. The system provides a list of document types based on the organization’s defined taxonomy, so the user can quickly see the document type he needs and select it. If the system named the document types differently, it would be difficult for the end user to add documents to the system and could result in many documents not being managed appropriately.

For Head Office: The governance system must be easy for Head Office to use as well. Upper management is responsible for proper records governance, and it needs to manage risks, such as data loss or leakage, or not complying with regulatory requirements. An information governance solution that is easy to use and provides accurate reporting also helps management understand how to evolve the information assets in the company.

Conductor of Information Governance for All Systems

Centralized information governance works because you can easily connect with all the systems in the organization that store records and properly manage them. The centralized system doesn’t store actual records; it stores a reference to that record, the policies that apply to that record and all activity on that record.

To ensure this connection, a records management system must support the ability to connect using an API or web service. The API connects from the central system to individual record systems to monitor what activities related to records and ensures proper governance is applied.

A Source of Confidence

For a centralized information governance solution to work, it must be seen as a source of confidence. This means the organization must be confident that the information stored in the system is reliable. To ensure this, the system itself must adhere to a set of governance policies.

Any updates to the information in the governance system are automatically tracked and available for audit at any time and for anyone.

Centralized Records Governance is Critical

Every day your organization is seeing tremendous growth in the volume of information it captures and manages. Along with an increase in the volume of information, you also face new data types that need to be supported. Much of this information is essential to how the business performs and needs to be carefully managed.

Managing the volume and growing data types manually from system to system is impossible to do. Trying to pull everything together into a single repository is also complex and challenging. The answer lies in a centralized information governance system that can reach out to all the different records systems across your organization and manage a centralized set of governance policies.

This central view gives you a better look at how information is used within the organization and a way to easily manage the lifecycle of all information, adapting policies as necessary. But not all information governance systems are the same, so know what you need it do and ask the right questions of the technology vendor. This is not a trivial investment.

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