Keeping Information Governance Simple (BUILD) - Part 2

By Jim Merrifield posted 06-18-2014 09:07


B - Build Your IG Program

Securing an executive sponsor is a critical first step to building your program. A top-level executive must be on board and supporting your endeavors from day one. This key person will most likely be the CEO, CIO, COO or other C-Level executive and be held accountable for the development and execution of the program.

An executive sponsor will likely handle high level responsibilities such as budgeting, staffing and tracking milestone progress, while the project manager should monitor the day to day activity, making sure the program is moving forward. The project manager will only involve the executive sponsor when absolutely necessary. However, an IG program that doesn’t have executive sponsorship will run the risk of being thrown on the back burner when obstacles arise.

The next step is to identify key stakeholders that will make up your IG team. The make-up of each organization is different due to varied industries. However, the recommended key stakeholders should include Legal, IT, Records Management, Compliance and Business.

Stakeholders should clearly understand their role and responsibility in developing the IG program creating a level of ownership.

The IG team should collaborate and complete these six steps:

1. Adopt a Vision – What is your organizations goal over the next 3 – 5 years? Much will depend on what your already doing well and not so well when it comes to IG. Refer back to your SWOT analysis discussed in Part 1.

Some realistic goals could be:

  • Enforce retention policies
  • Capitalize on Big Data opportunities
  • Improve response time during litigation or law suit

Here’s some advice, look for quick-wins and don’t set the bar to high so none of your goals are attainable. Be realistic! Once your business goals are well defined, outline the steps to take in order to meet those goals. And then, DON’T GIVE UP!

2. Analyze Internal Drivers – Organizations internal drivers that need to be analyzed include corporate culture, current business plans and financial constraints. Let’s discuss each one briefly, one at a time.

  • Corporate Culture – Every corporate culture is different and has a major impact on decision-making and operational approaches. Some corporate culture considerations may include the organization’s appetite for risk, its use of IT, its capital investment strategies and other management decisions.
  • Current Business Plans – Does the organization have any business plans that remain unfinished? If so, how will they effect the development of the IG program? Some examples may include moving offices, technology migrations, policy developments, etc.
  • Financial Constraints – Does the company have a budget for development of its IG program? If so, what funds can be allocated? I’d recommend taking your finance department out to lunch, perhaps a liquid lunch before having this discussion.

3. Analyze External Drivers – A companies external drivers are not as crucial as its internal drivers, but still are important. External drives that should be considered include technology trends, industry best practices and relevant legal and regulatory factors. As with the internal drivers, let’s take these one at a time.

  • Technology Trends – It’s important to stay abreast of new technologies that are developing and trending in the IG space. These new technologies could and will affect your organizations ability to execute its IG program. Some technologies are quite obvious, such as mobile computing, tablets, smart phones, cloud storage and social media use. This has forced organizations to decide whether to provide mobile devices or support a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) endeavor. Other technologies are not quite as obvious, such as Big Data, Content Analytics, Auto-classification and Predictive Coding. These technologies must be evaluated and analyzed as well.
  • Industry Best Practices – There’s much talk about IG these days. It’s a developing discipline that many are still trying to figure out. Various not-for-profit organizations and industry experts have led the charge in educating the industry through surveys, white papers, blogs, webinars, etc.

The list below is not a complete list, but some of whom I have personally benefited from:


  • Relevant Legal & Regulatory Factors – Your organizations legal, risk and compliance team can help identify the laws and regulations that affect your industry. Changes in the legal and regulatory environment happen very frequently, therefore it’s important that your legal and risk team is involved at the inception of your IG program.

4. Policy & Procedure – There are many policies and procedures existing in your organization today which affect the governance of information. Some of them include legal hold, social media, BYOD, email, and document retention. I’d recommend rolling all these policies into one policy, entitled “ABC Company’s Enterprise IG Policy.” A few words of advice, do not create a policy that can’t be enforced. If the policy is too restrictive and makes it harder for end users to do their jobs. It will not be followed. I’ve seen this mistake happen far too often in connection to with email retention policies. With what result? The organization decides to KEEP EVERYTHING FOREVER! Need I say more?

5. Communication– Consider who will be impacted by the new policy and procedures. Knowing all the parties (IT, Legal, HR, Finance, Compliance, etc.) that will be affected helps determine the means by which you communicate. Today, organizations have a wide variety of communication methods at their disposal, including but not limited to written, oral, face-to-face, online and video.Which method you choose will depend on whom you are speaking with. No matter which method of communication you chose, it’s important to customize your message for each business unit, providing only the relevant information affecting their day-to-day activities.

6. Training – In addition to communication, users will need to be trained, trained again and then trained some more. Training is an on-going process. Like communication techniques discussed in the previous point, there are a variety of training of approaches to be considered. Some of them include classroom instruction, online learning or a series of recorded training videos. No matter which approach you chose, remember to be consistent with your delivery. In this regard, recorded training videos may prove invaluable, especially with new employee on-boarding.

Building Your Program is only the second of three steps to developing an IG program that "REALLY" works. In my next post, I will discuss the third and final step, "Control Change."

What has worked best for you, when building your IG program? Whether you are a practitioner, consultant, solution provider or someone else, I'd love to hear your experiences. Please let me know in the Comments section below.

Follow me on twitter: @jimerrifield

Follow my company on twitter: @FileTrail

Company Website:

Originally Posted: LinkedIn

*Photo Credit -

#information governance #FileTrail #InformationGovernance