I am often asked, “What is the most difficult part of a successful Information Governance project?” That’s easy. It’s getting started! Many, many well-intended information governance initiatives get stuck in a committee “meet again and again” cycle, always evaluating, always planning, but never really getting off the ground. I’m then asked, “What is the best way to avoid getting stuck?” That’s easy too. Leverage an industry expert who has a proven track record of creating strategic IG road maps within your industry.
An effective strategic roadmap has four main functions. First, it helps you divide complex initiatives into smaller, executable pieces. Big projects are often difficult to execute and likely to get knocked-off the rails. Taking a divide and conquer approach is key. By breaking your initiative into components through the development of a roadmap, this allows you to focus on better defined pieces to the puzzle while ensuring the entire initiative stays on track.
Next, a roadmap allows you to develop a detailed timeline for on-going project and change management. This is crucial for effective communication to senior management. Often, Information Governance roadmaps span over a number of years. Just be sure when creating your roadmap to think honestly about the speed in which you can actually reach your IG objectives, as well as the minimum speed for maintaining forward momentum. By having your own customized roadmap, your organization can handle change at its own pace and stay on track.
Helping to define the maturity of your information governance program is yet another function of an effective strategic roadmap. Perhaps this is the most useful, yet most overlooked aspects. Based on your organization’s culture, budget and other requirements, try to recognize where your organization is in terms of Information Governance. Ask yourself, “Will we benefit from a basic initiative or a sophisticated and ambitious program?” Sometimes, picking something in the middle works just fine, and actually has the greatest likelihood for a successful execution.
Finally, a well-planned roadmap allows for the ongoing success of a program to be measured. It provides a statement to senior management that you not only have a plan in place, but are not afraid to be tracked against it. Of course, there are many things that can change or alter the plan, including: large litigation, changes in business conditions, M&A, etc. However, with a plan, you can better evaluate the impacts of these changes, and effectively mitigate the effects to keep on track.
If you’re coming to MER2015 in Chicago next month, I’d welcome the opportunity to talk with you at the show about your unique information governance goals.