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Understanding Information Governance Best Practices

Global Information Governance Day (GIGD) is held every February and brings awareness to the importance of information governance (IG) in today’s increasingly digital world. The day highlights the processes, technologies and people that address the use, value and security of information.

As information continues to be created at rapid rates and more organizations adopt new technologies, it is imperative that businesses understand the importance of IG in terms of long-term growth and success. IG is a discipline that is continually evolving, and so, best practices are still being shaped and refined. In honor of GIGD next week, we’re sharing the five keys to an effective and secure IG strategy.

Your Information Is an Asset

Information governance is, quite simply, the management of an organization’s information. This includes all information created within a business, from employee files and accounts payable records to thought leadership, websites, client data, emails, social media posts and more. IG encompasses the various policies, procedures, structures and processes that organizations must comply with when creating, managing and sharing information.

With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day and data breaches no longer an “if” but a “when” question for organizations, businesses that have yet to implement an IG policy cannot put it off any longer. Not only will strategic IG better protect your company from being breached, but it will also improve productivity and increase efficiency across the organization. For those that already have an IG policy, it’s essential to regularly monitor and evaluate the procedures in place to ensure they address all types of information created by the company.

IG Best Practices

Since your organization is unique, you will face challenges and goals that are specific to your business. In that sense, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to an effective IG program. There are, however, certain best practices that are common across all programs.

The first step in developing solid IG policy is to identify key information sets that are relevant to your organization. Once investments in IG are made, programs must be monitored for both success and compliance. The following best practices will support enforcement and can be adjusted to meet the needs of your business.

  • Ensure cross-functional support — Sponsorship must come from the top leaders within the company to help ensure cross-stakeholder support. This means that numerous departments, including legal and IT, should work together to coordinate your company’s initiatives.
  • Change management — In IG, compliance is imperative. There needs to be a high level of authority and process improvement should be treated as a journey — one that is effectively managed and enables change. When implementing a new program, secure an executive sponsor at the senior management level.
  • Develop training programs — When you begin a new IG initiative, training programs will be critical. Training should be mandatory for everyone within the organization. Programs should be created with your business’s specific needs in mind, focusing on the context of the users’ work environments.
  • Schedule actionable meetings — Your IG council or cross-functional team should meet on a regular basis (at least quarterly) to evaluate performance reports, the use of new technology, budget concerns and changes in management. Strategies should be modified based on the information presented at these meetings.
  • Lean on the support of technology — Although it is important to remain hands on, there needs to be some level of automation during each stage of an IG program’s life cycle. This will include data analytics and automated classification tools. If possible, consider automating non-compliance detection and self-assessment monitoring.

Whether your organization is just beginning to develop a clear IG policy or you’re reevaluating current procedures, these best practices will help achieve your organization’s objectives and protect your critical business information.