As organizations prepare for the year ahead, it’s important to first review the information and content challenges from 2021. Well-known pandemic related issues aside, many of the challenges organizations faced centered around managing content from their new, or newly utilized, collaboration platforms. Common concerns included:
- How do we manage content shared in Microsoft Teams?
- What rules should we place around Zoom recordings?
- How broadly should we allow access to this content?
- Where did David keep the vendor proposals?
Organizations have wrestled with these, and similar, questions more frequently over the last two years. In some cases, they found the answers easily because they had a strong information governance (InfoGov) program in place that provided the answers.
These kinds of changes aren’t going anywhere. External factors will continue to push organizations to adapt yet again. 2022 is the year to ensure your organization has a strong information governance program to help respond to these, and future, decisions.
Chicken or Egg: InfoGov Guiding Principles or Leadership Structure?
InfoGov professionals debate whether you should first have guiding principles or a leadership structure. This is a chicken and egg debate — it all depends on your perspective. However, having the leadership team identified and in place first allows the team to own and understand the information governance principles for the organization.
As the InfoGov program grows and evolves from conception to execution, that leadership will need to guide the program to keep it on a steady course. This is critical as while organizations agree they need information governance, they end up deferring implementation in favor of immediate operational needs. Having the established authority to reinforce InfoGov requirements helps keep the goals and importance of information governance in the forefront.
Related Article: Information Governance Is Boring, But Necessary
InfoGov Principles Establish Consistency
Any InfoGov professional will gladly explain why information governance is important. The reason information governance is important for your organization will vary. In fact, the balance of issues often differs based on the types of content within an organization. Having guiding principles helps frame the key questions of:
- What regulations does the organization need to comply with?
- Is there historical value to the information?
- What are the risks that need to be managed?
- How long does the business need to use the information?
That last question is tricky. Business operation groups always exaggerate their needs. They’ll always have an example of when having a piece of very old content helped them solve a problem. Your task is to strike a balance between their needs and other drivers.
Risks, regulations and business needs typically fade over time while historical value grows. Does that historical value or business need outweigh the risk of keeping the content? Guiding principles help organizations answer that question.
Keep People in the Loop on InfoGov Policies and Changes
Information governance plans often forget to create a common understanding throughout the organization of why different policies exist. Where pockets of understanding exist, it’s often focused on their part of the business. Don’t hammer people with every detail at once. Share the big picture in the proper context.
Another challenge related to employees is how policies affect the way information is managed. Once rules and controls are applied to information, it may result in that information moving to other systems. Changes like this often occur without considering the impact on how people work.
People need two things: They need to know the “why” behind the changes. And more importantly, they need to be able to find information quickly. The inability to find information is when the protests really start.
Related Article: Is Your Information Governance ROT-ing?
Get a Clean Start
Building a strong information governance program isn’t easy. If it was, every organization would have one already. Organizations address the more immediate operational needs first. The catch is that by investing now in a strong information governance foundation, you’ll spend less time completing revenue generating projects as most information requirements are understood from the beginning.
Look back on the past year. Find the emails where debates raged for weeks about information requirements. Dig out that list of outstanding questions from an ongoing development effort. Use those to demonstrate how having an information governance program in place to manage the information can improve operations in the long-term.
Start your new year right. Which would you rather be when new information challenges arise: proactive or reactive?
Laurence Hart is a director of consulting services at CGI Federal, with a focus on leading digital transformation efforts that drive his clients’ success. A proven leader in content management and information governance, Laurence has over two decades of experience solving the challenges organizations face as they implement and deploy information solutions.