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Top 10 Tips For Information Governance

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One of the key terms for business people today is information governance. As archives become increasingly digitized, the advantage lies with team members who take the time to understand how their field is changing; adapting to a new way of thinking about data management and storage. The truth is, records managers are no longer the glorified librarians that some companies seem to think of them as, but rather are essential pieces to the overall security and management structure.

With that in mind, here are a few pieces of carefully constructed wisdom that can help with changing the conversation from simple storage to a more nuanced approach:

1)   Establishing records management as an integral part of a governance program must be a collaborative exercise. Issuing memos and expecting other people to instantly adhere to them slows progress, especially if senior management doesn’t share the same values.

2)   Steps must be taken to ensure that the reins of governance power are centrally held. However, allowances can and should be made for departmental variations in vocabulary or administrative business process. But these should be integrated into the overarching program, not left to evolve on their own, lest they corrode order and discipline.

3)   Complicating all this is the fact that staff (aside from your legal counsel) rarely thinks about records or governance. Don’t be surprised at a lack of instant enthusiasm over the protections and benefits of classification, retention, and other related topics.

4)   Information doesn’t have to be on paper to qualify as a record, nor does it have to be in a particular format. Rather, the content itself is what determines its records worthiness. Clients are constantly surprised by the idea that something as simple as text messages can fall under the authority of a retention policy.

5)   Magnetic media (hard disks, backup tapes, etc.) can degrade over time and eventually become unreadable. If the content they contain isn’t or can’t be migrated, they won’t pass muster in a legal discovery process and should be destroyed before they set you up to be fined or otherwise sanctioned.

6)   Records destruction is an important component of a healthy governance program. Besides representing to a legal liability, “keeping everything forever” leads to an ever-increasing demand for systems and financial resources as the information pile grows.

7)   When destroying records, keep in mind the need to create a record of the records’ destruction. That way an audit trail is created that can validate the date, time, and means by which they were destroyed.

8)   Don’t be afraid of the future. Just because something has always been done one way does not mean that new ideas is wrong, but might even increase office efficiency and profitability. One of the major goals for any records manager is shifting information governance from being seen as a business cost to an investment center.

9)   At the same time, older forms of storage shouldn’t be discounted due to their age. Many of the cybersecurity problems of today came as a result of organizations adopting technology before fully understanding the implications, leading to a loss of confidence and setbacks. Physical security still counts for something in today’s world, and can keep your business from being a victim.

10)   Never rest on your laurels. Quality information governance practices are part of a journey, not a destination, and there’s always room for improvement. Complacency is never good in the business world, and this no exception.

Questions or comments? Contact us today and one of our experts will be in touch! The Data Vault has been helping clients navigate the changing world of information management for over 30 years and we always have time to share advice and guidance.

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