Information Governance is for Operations

One of the most frequent items of discussion we see regarding information governance has to do with where within an organization the function lives. The most popular choices typically are IT, legal, or, for those who have it, compliance. And in fact, any of these are workable as long as communication and collaboration flow freely across them all.

However, please take note:

  • Records is noticeably absent from the list of options, despite the fact this group is probably the most practiced of any when it comes to applying the needed disciplines to information. In many cases, this is either because Records is largely invisible to the rest of the organization, or its staffers are viewed as “glorified librarians.”*
  • The departments listed have cross-organization reach but are relatively isolated in terms of the functions they perform. If there is an exception that would be records, but as noted, it is not generally among the nominees to take charge of IG. The result is that IG issues tend to be viewed in terms of each group’s own narrow context, rather than as a major contributor to the organization’s overall success.

The answer, my friends, is not blowing in the wind, but rather is staring us in the face. And what boils down to is that IG should really be its own office within Operations. (Shameless self-congratulatory note: I kinda first floated this notion just shy of 11 years ago. Amazing how things have changed so little, even as they’ve changed so much!)

As a unit, operations management centers on “the administration of business practices to create the highest level of efficiency possible within an organization” (per Investopedia). Since organizations increasingly depend on information to further their business objectives, there is clearly a straight line to be drawn from optimizing their ability to govern that information to achieving operational improvement.

The people working in this office should be experienced professionals who are effective mentors and facilitators, and are uniquely able to bridge historically siloed functions and reconcile competing perspectives for a common good. They should be intimately familiar with the core precepts of records, process, and information management, And they should have thick skins and otherworldly patience since they are likely to run into objections and slowdowns from within the affected business units.

It would take yards of screen space to peel back the layers of this onion, so I think I’ll leave it there for now. Meanwhile, though, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the pros and cons of situating the IG function in a standalone corner have the organizational chart. So please leave a comment or three, and also let me know if you’d like me to explore the topic further with a video interview with one of our profession’s leading lights.

Thank you for reading!

* Before I get letters, please know that this is an actual quote from an actual client. So don’t yell at me for the sentiment! 😊

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About the author: Steve Weissman

Steve Weissman helps you do information right by bringing order and discipline to your governance and process practices. Principal Consultant at Holly Group and Co-Founder of the Information Coalition (now merged with ARMA International), he leverages a proven proprietary methodology to optimize everything from strategic planning and needs assessment to vendor selection and user adoption. He is, in short, The Info Gov Guy™, furthering best-practices for finding, leveraging, and protecting your business-critical information. A member of the AIIM Company of Fellows and holder of numerous industry designations, he can be reached at steve@hollygroup.com or 617-383-4655.

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