We identify Key success factors of an Information Governance implementation.
As with any emerging discipline, there will always be the potential for projects to falter, or to start off in one direction, and end up producing something completely different than initially intended. This is the first in a series of articles which provides guidance regarding things to look out for, and some steps to reduce the possibility of the information governance programme fizzling out.
Be clear about your Information Governance objectives
This may sound so self-evident that it doesn’t warrant mentioning, but if this isn’t clearly thought out, the project will quickly lose direction, and will fail to gain the necessary traction. Due to the emergent nature of information governance, it means different things to different stakeholders. IT for example could immediately interpret it to mean IT Governance, or Big Data. The records management team may well think it is all about the Generally Accepted Record Keeping Principles. To the legal practitioners it most likely translates to e-discovery or meeting Privacy requirements. And they could all be right, so firstly understand what the key business problem is that needs fixing, and focus on that.
Alignment to corporate drivers
Governance in any form is often seen as a grudge purchase, a necessary evil. An important part of the process is to make sure that information governance delivers some form of business benefit. Regardless whether the benefit to your specific organisation lies in cost saving, reputation management, risk reduction, litigation management, reduced e-discovery costs or better customer service, understanding the benefits is critical if the rest of the leadership team is to buy-in. Information Governance could deliver all (or none) of these, and just how seriously the initiative is taken depends on how closely it is aligned to the goals of the organisation.
Commitment of the executive team
Strangely enough, governance comes with a cost attached. Gathering the necessary financial and human resources to make it happen is reliant on the executives buying-in to the process. It is my experience that executives only buy-in when they fully understand the exercise, and they clearly see how it can benefit their sphere of operation. If the time is taken in step 2 to align IG to the key issues facing the organisation, then buy-in becomes much easier. Due to the fact that this industry is in its early stages, the onus lies on us to make sure that we clearly understand the benefits, so that we can formulate a coherent business argument for moving forward.
Putting an Information Governance change plan together
Information Governance touches on almost all aspects of organisations; hence it leads to people needing to conduct business in new ways. With new approaches comes the need for a sound change management plan. Regardless of whether your approach is one of “comply or else” or adopting a more gentle, encouraging attitude, staff need to be brought along for the journey. The end result must be one where all affected staff adopt and comply with the new governance regime, and ideally they should see the benefits, not only for the organisation as a whole, but also how it affects their daily tasks.
Of course there are more things to consider, but ignoring these key issues could spell the death of true Information Governance in your workplace, and open up the potential for significant risk. Paying close attention to these four steps, as early as possible in the process, should stand you in good stead as you embark on this exciting journey.