Information governance (IG) has become a popular buzz phrase in the enterprise content management (ECM) market over the past few years. Ten years ago, we used to talk about records management (RM), which is basically a set of policies and procedures for maintaining and disposing of legal documents. IG takes RM a step further and applies policies and procedures to all of an organization’s information—not just its legal records.
Gartner defines IG as an “accountability framework to ensure appropriate behavior in the valuation, creation, storage, use, archiving and deletion of information. It includes the processes, roles and policies, standards and metrics that ensure the effective and efficient use of information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.” Basically, IG is designed to optimize the control and use of an organization’s information.
Why is this relevant to a document imaging reseller? Because if a user has deemed a document important enough to scan, its image is probably important enough to be included in an IG policy. In addition, in today’s business and government environments, many electronic documents are just as important as paper, so they also need to be covered by IG. For a reseller, IG represents a chance to expand beyond document imaging and into true ECM.
Five Steps to Implementing IG
How do you implement good IG? Here are five steps to consider:
- Figure out what you have: Basically, determine what information within an organization would benefit by having business rules applied to it. This should not only include everything that needs to be managed for compliance/records purposes, but also anything that an organization wants to manage for strategic purposes. We realize this is a broad and possibly daunting task, but don’t think it has to be perfect out of the gate—remember: You’re just trying to create a framework, which leads to our second step….
- Avoid paralysis by analysis: Similar to what you do with an imaging implementation, figure out a place to start—likely with the organization’s most valuable information. Eventually, the goal is to take IG enterprise-wide, but remember: Whatever policies are currently in place have been good enough to get your customer where they are today. So, pick a department and prove your concept before moving on to bigger things.
- Now convene your meeting: Everyone says you need to get buy-in from top-level management and multiple line-of-business leaders before you can complete a true IG framework. This is probably true, but it’s a lot easier to get this buy-in once you’ve proven your mettle in a single area. Taking a step back, however, it’s important that you are working with an ECM system or set of tools that you are eventually going to be able to deploy across the “what you have” that you defined in Step 1. After this is in place, convene a meeting with the heads of various departments that could be affected by an IG implementation, as well as top-level executives with enough power to drive the initiative forward enterprise-wide.
- Define your rules and optimal processes: This is typically going to be done on a departmental level, but as some information crosses departments—for example, contracts could be part of legal as well as sales departments—it requires enterprise supervision.
- Train the staff to follow the policies: Ideally, you want to automate as much of the day-to-day IG implementation as possible. For example, if an IG process is controlled by metadata, can you automate the capture of that metadata? If implemented correctly, proper IG should make employees’ jobs easier, not harder. But if employees are not trained on how to properly interact with the IG system (and/or if the user interface is too complex), they will develop workarounds and potentially undermine the whole project.
Chances are, your customers are hearing more and more about IG, but it may be a bit intimidating to them. As their trusted partner, following the steps we’ve outlined can hopefully help you guide them through the implementation of a framework that can touch almost every area of their business. Yes, IG can be a big undertaking, but it can also offer great rewards in terms of compliance and optimized business processes.