Implementing an Information Governance program is one thing , but having a successful Information Governance program is another thing entirely. Rather than just checking things off a list (Policies – check, Procedures – check, Retention Schedule – check, Supporting Legal Research – check), institutions must inherently encompass everything needed to improve the quality of information governance and protection of information, and this lies far beyond component-based thinking.
Granted, the above “checklist” is important. We need that backbone as a fundamental element in order to be able to proceed effectively. But beyond this, a successful Information Governance Program shares three important attributes:
1. It focuses on the needs of employees. They are the ones after all who must interact with the program.
2. It works to continually improve the quality of the management of information.
3. It measures how these goals are being met.
This requires more strategic institution-wide Information Governance thinking and action, and less emphasis on fragmented and diffused tactical responses. If we don’t have a clearly marked pathway to success, we’re only halfway there. Not only does there need to be an improvement-oriented ethos, but there needs to be a shared responsibility for the quality and success of the program.
In short, Information Governance should not be a corporate goal, but rather a by-product of improved information management practices. It needs to be part of the institutional DNA. So we need to focus on continuing to do even better than what is already being done well, and emphasize those things that are important to success, while understanding that there is always more to be done. This is not a static endeavor, and complacency will breed a sub-standard Information Governance program.
So, what needs to be done to head off a sense of inertia? Information Governance strategies require behavioral or attitudinal changes. Information Governance efforts require the support and involvement of the whole, and not just the work of a few, and there are four fundamental actions that work to ensure we are onboarding the entire organization.
1. Provide continuous support. Don’t implement the program and then hope for the best.
2. Connect support to everyday processes. Make sure there are easily accessible and linear avenues to ask for help. Break down those barriers!
3. Continuous monitoring and assessment. It is important to have a constant presence so that employees know the program is here to stay, and that they are expected to be familiar with it.
4. Engage employees on learning. Train them. Test Them. On a regular basis.
If you want to know how to identify warning signs of a failing program, see if you recognize any of these ailments.
1. Unwillingness of employees to cooperate.
2. Lack of an adequate automated system for monitoring and/or tracking of employees.
3. Ineffective and tardy intervention when weaknesses are identified.
4. A general sense of a self-fulfilling prophecy (here is another program destined to fail)
To head off inertia and gloom, commit to both a “front-loading” and “progressive responsibility” philosophy in prioritizing action plans, and the rollout of the program. By placing an emphasis on resource allocation and accountability, you’ll be assured of a successful implementation.
So to summarize, successful Information Governance programs focus on strategies that enable employees to meet institutional goals. If there is a clear and distinct commitment to resources supporting the program, and there are mechanisms in place that clearly demonstrate that everyone has their part to play, the program is well on its way to becoming a natural and assured element of the corporation.