Every modern business utilizes digital interaction to communicate between its employees, clients or other businesses. These digital interactions involve a flow of various types of data, including both valuable/sensitive and less important to insignificant pieces of information, and tend to leave auditable trails of documents and files. This is where potentially quite hazardous scenarios can occur if this data gets misplaced, lost, corrupted, deleted, or corrupted in any other way. Not to mention all the potential legal issues a company may face if a piece of highly sensitive data that belongs to either your organisation or your customer gets in the wrong hands.
By DAMIAN ALDERSON
For example, a recent study conducted by NewVantage Partners reports that 7 out of 10 companies do not think their business has implemented proper data culture, while another survey reveals that the same percentage of employees are given access to sensitive company information without there being a need for this type of data access on their employee-level. These stats tell us that many companies do not take Information Governance as seriously as they should.
This article explains what Information Governance is, how it solves the aforementioned pitfalls, but it also tackles some best practice tips on how to make sure your IG plan includes efficient data archiving and information management processes.
What is Information Governance?
Information governance involves a strategic plan and an organisation-level framework that tackles information management. It can refer to both digital data and physical documents, as well as infrastructure and the entire ecosystem of connected devices. Every company that incorporates data flows in its typical processes should have a detailed, functional and secure IG strategy that adheres to both regional and international standards for managing information. This is especially true within the current regulatory compliance landscape that is quite dynamic in terms of data accessibility and protection, and tends to change and evolve on a yearly basis.
Properly approached and tackled IG plans most typically include the following concepts:
— Data security and privacy
— Integrity and authenticity
— Information lifecycle management
— Business continuity
— Cost efficiency in terms of data archiving
However, the benefits of Information Governance extend to more than mere legal and ethical aspects of data management. Coming up with and implementing a highly-functional, scalable, and robust IG framework can help your business become more agile, improve workflows, build brand credibility, reach higher levels of informed decision-making and empower growth.
Best Practice Tips for Creating an Information Governance Plan
Information Governance is an integral part of digital transformation, and even though every organisation should create a custom-tailored IG strategy to fit its own unique needs and budget, there are certain standards and best practice rules that are ubiquitous across almost all industries and are irrespective of company size.
Understand & Map the Information Lifecycle Within Your Company
Every company has various types of data circulating across an intricate ecosystem of devices, channels and nodes. However, this data doesn’t typically have a predefined or inherent lifespan. This is why it is your job to figure out a predefined lifecycle for various data tiers. In other words, define the following:
— data lifecycle from the moment a piece of information is initially entering your systems to the end of its lifecycle, or the moment a piece of data is disposed of or archived.
— how much time a piece of information spends in each lifecycle phase.
— if the lifecycle would be different depending on the type, industry, or its very contents.
When determining the information lifecycle, make sure to first take into account all the legal factors and data privacy regulations as some pieces of data will have to be stored, managed and/or archived in such a way that you can access them quickly (due to potentially risky legal-based issues).
Find Optimal Tools and Solutions for Your Business
Manual data management has become an impossible task due to the plethora of challenges caused by the sheer volume of information modern businesses deal with daily – from granular data to devices and software-based information. This is why the companies that tackle IG seriously tend to use dedicated tools and solutions for achieving full oversight of their data environments.
We recommend finding a robust and scalable platform that uses an automated approach to managing information, from the first to the last stage of the information lifecycle. Depending on the size of your business environment, you should consider including retention policies, incorporating effective email archiving solutions, and implementing efficient data classification methods with optimized accessibility. Ideally, it would be an all-encompassing solution that would centralize all aspects of your IG plan, while it should also be capable of adapting to evolving tech-based and business-growth environments.
Take Employee Education Seriously
Each business involves a complex system of employees, clients, third-party platforms, outbound users and communication channels. Be sure that all participants within a certain dataflow are up-to-date and educated adequately in terms of how your IG policies work and what they involve.
All employees should be able to understand all the aspects of your IG plan and should comply with all the requirements and obligations with respect to potential legal, security, and privacy-based issues. Make sure education and system testing are ongoing processes, rather than one-off events, as that way you would be able to keep the necessary awareness at satisfactory levels.
Regardless of the industry or the size of your business, it is strongly recommended to create a potent and optimised Information Governance strategy. Only then will you be capable of managing, storing, protecting, archiving and accessing all the various data types, metadata, documents and information pieces that permeate your workforce. You must deploy a proactive and granular approach to all the aspects of the data management process, and in so doing, strengthen the very base of your business environment.
- Damian is a business consultant and a freelance blogger from New York. He writes about the latest tech solutions and marketing insights. Follow him on Twitter for more articles