Ways to avoid Information Governance pitfalls

Information Governance (IG) -It sounds like it is a very extensive process because unfortunately, it is.  There are many components to IG, with the two major players being software and people. In this article, I will try to expose possible issues that you can hopefully avoid.

For those of you that have had school-age kids, you can attest to the kids succeeding more when a routine is established and followed. So why am I talking about routine? Because IG is all about routine. It’s about software performing its work on a scheduled basis and about how your fellow employees consistently manage their data.

So, let’s take a look at some possible pitfalls when it comes to Information Governance:

  1. Communication

This pitfall or mistake is the most fragile, volatile, forgotten, and easily the most important component of IG. If the proper communication is not performed and maintained with all stakeholders and employees, IG will fail. Communication is so vital to the creation, implementation, enforcement, maturation, and mutation of the Information Governance process. Therefore, the proper people need to be involved with each one.

a. Creation

In order to properly create your IG strategy, you must not use the ‘Cone of Silence’. IG is not a secret, instead everyone should not only know that IG policies are being implemented, but also be know why it’s important to your company’s future. Not everyone will be involved with the creation of your IG strategy, but you cannot work from a vacuum either. You must be sure to include representation from every department in your company, because you must know all forms of data created, stored, and used within your company.

b. Implementation

The process for implementing your IG strategy will be complex, time-consuming and will take months or even years. Though this could be a tedious, arduous process, you must stay the course and focus on the big picture. This might sound strange, but an analogy I like to make with IG is the fortified cities of centuries ago. The walls, moats, etc. took months/years to build but the people focused on a bigger picture- keeping themselves safe. The same is true for IG. It will be a long process, but don’t falter because the protection it affords is worth the effort.

c. Enforcement

There are two ways to enforce IG; automatically and manually. The automatic process is software that you use to enforce IG on the data you specified. The manual process is performed by users. This will be an iterative process to not only initiate IG, but to also schedule and perform IG. As much as I love automation, not everything can be automated. This means the users must be fully trained on how they are to be involved in the IG process. If they are not fully trained, IG will fail.

d. Maturation

Your IG process will begin at a frantic pace. However, as the process progresses, you and your team will have a chance to catch your breath. Keep in mind, this could be many months down the road. However, this is not a time to rest. Instead, you need to remain diligent and vigilant. Don’t assume all is well. Instead, spot-check your processes and do a random sampling of your data, to ensure you are still on track.

e. Mutation

Your IG process will change. That is a given. People will leave, software will become obsolete, new software will be purchased, etc. You must be willing and able to adjust. Routine is important, but so is being willing to adjust your routine. Don’t fall into the trap of making change for the sake of change, but at the same time, don’t be unwilling to adapt to change. It is inevitable.

There are some other pitfalls that could also expose themselves (and probably will) and they both come back to one indisputable fact…humans are flawed. No matter how hard we try, no matter how much we analyze, there will be mistakes. IG is a process that is never-ending and the key is staying on the right track. There will be times you feel like you are meandering around and never taking two consecutive steps in the same direction. Just be sure to stay the course and everything will fall into place.

Flawed decisions

Measure twice, cut once. Perform the proper due diligence, collect the necessary information and then make an informed decision. Analysis paralysis serves no one. But be prepared to discover a decision you confidently made, is now incorrect. This is not to say that all decisions made initially will be wrong. But things change, new laws are made, etc. The key here is to not be afraid to change your IG strategy. Don’t fall into the trap of “We’ve always done it this way.”

Flawed users

Users are integral to the IG process. Since IG cannot be fully automated, users must be educated as to how they are to comply with IG, as well as why they are to comply. You must make sure users are on board with this. If your company follows the mantra of “These are the rules and you don’t need to know why”, do not expect IG to be successful. Some of the most successful companies are those that are employee-owned. Even if that is not the case for your company, you need to have everyone invest and believe in the IG process. If you want IG to work, you cannot have any users that are not assimilated.

In the end, these are a couple pitfalls one may typically see with IG. If you would like more information on Information Governance or any of our products, please visit our website at www.sherpasoftware.com or Contact Us.