What The Steve Miller Band Taught Me About Information Governance

By Jeffrey Lewis posted 07-26-2013 16:03


In the records management industry a lot of talk is given to permanent vs. non-permanent records.  If you really want to put a records manager in a tizzy ask them about record vs. non-record.  With the role of the records and information manager becoming one of information governance and having to become more concerned with metadata about information I think there are other terms that we need to add to our vernacular (I created these terms myself, so please leave a comment if you can think of something better).  These terms are not mutually exclusive, but they do cast a clearer picture on the bull known as ESI which we must cast our lasso around.

Operational Information: This information carries the highest premium to your organization.  Any risk management plans or continuity of operations plan needs to include your operational information. A business or organization cannot operate without operational information. These correspond in the records management world to vital records. Operational information needs to be identified and protected to conduct business under emergency operating conditions or to safeguard the legal and financial status of the organization.  Operational information will be considered privileged information in your organization. 

Business Information: This is information generated and created in the normal course of business. The majority of information in your organization is business information and it can be anything from a receipt to e-mail. The value of business information can vary from user to user, but everyone in the organization uses it to conduct business.  The difference between business and operational information is that not all business information is needed for an organization to run, whereas an organization needs operational information to operate.  Therefore, all operational information is business information, but not all business information is operational information.  Business information does not need the same level of control and protection that is required for operational information.  Although, if you can identify and protect business information to leverage its value to its maximum potential then you can empower your organization for higher efficiency, innovation and impact.

Evidentiary Information:  If business information is about getting a high return on investment of your information, then evidentiary information is about reducing the risk of indictment. Steve Weissman with his blog post, “Paper Vs. Electronic: When ‘Best Evidence’ Isn’t Good Enough,” got me thinking about this concept.  An e-mail can be considered business information, but the metadata associated with that  e-mail is the evidentiary information which is now necessary for best evidence to prevent spoliation sanctions. Evidentiary information is needed to get the full story behind your information. We can’t just settle to capture information and preserve it, but we must also capture information about the information (context is key). Just like my band teacher said, “practice doesn’t make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect” and so it goes with metadata, capturing metadata isn’t enough, but it must be quality metadata.

And the times keep on changin'
So I'm keepin' on top
Of every fat cat who walks through my door

I'm a space cowboy
Bet you weren't ready for that
I'm a space cowboy
I'm sure you know where it's at
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

The times keep on changing and we must be ready to govern information. I want to be an ESI cowboy and know where it’s at.  To be ready for that have I properly captured the different types of information or am I missing any? 

#ESI #InformationGovernance #information governance #e-discovery #Records-Management #metadata #ElectronicRecordsManagement