Many organisations realise that information is their most valuable asset. However, many enterprises fail to realise that if not properly managed, that same information can be a significant source of risk. By turning to information governance, organisations can manage that risk.
Information governance is frequently driven by regulatory compliance or an adverse event, but there are a variety of advantages to be had. Information management must be approached proactively, through a good understanding of information governance, its fundamental principles, and why it is critical to good business practice.
What is information governance?
Information governance refers to everything concerning information in an organisation and is driven by business, legal, and compliance demands. It includes information categorisation, information usage definition, access management, document handling, records management, document elimination, information lifecycle management, cybersecurity, and data governance.
Why is information governance necessary?
It’s true that organisations are run on metrics, and the biggest obstacle to information governance implementation, maintenance, or improvement is justifying the return on investment and communicating the benefits. Information governance that is effective will:
- Allow unstructured information to become viable and valuable data for your business
- Enable information to be easily and quickly accessed by the relevant people, improving productivity
- Increase data protection, including intellectual property
- Reduce the risk that information will be lost or stolen
- Improve compliance with regulatory frameworks and policies
- Informed decision-making to increase business agility
- Enhance collaboration company-wide through solutions such as Microsoft 365
- Manage communication channels such as Microsoft Teams and social media
- Reduce the cost of information storage, through effective identification of obsolete or redundant content
- Provide consistent policies for information across the entire enterprise.
6 best practices for information governance
An effective information governance strategy for businesses starts with a plan. The following best practices can help organisations implement information governance.
Support to drive compliance
A business-IT collaboration is necessary to establish an information governance framework. HR, legal, compliance, and IT employees must collaborate with one another to ensure that information is managed properly and that the right people have access to the right information. For example, when deciding on a technology platform or ensuring information security, input from IT professionals is needed. The legal department can assist with identifying applicable policies, standards, and laws that govern information handling. The records management team will have a comprehensive understanding of the records management system or enterprise content management system. Information governance is a company-wide initiative and implements guidelines that benefit the entire organisation, rather than one department.
Define compliance and business requirements
Every industry has its own unique data access rules and retention policies, so not all organisations need the same ones. When planning information governance policies, the committee should determine the organisation’s specific criteria; for example, protected health care information or legal client content requires different processes and access controls to ensure compliance is being met.
An information management policy establishes a framework for information governance and should include information governance benefits, a description of roles and responsibilities, a commitment to meeting business, legal, and regulatory requirements, and information management practices. An information policy should be easy to comprehend and comprehensive in nature. It should include social media, email, instant messaging apps, cloud computing, and mobile devices in addition to the use of mobile devices.
Review and update
Every organisation should update its information governance plan as it evolves. For example, prior to the COVID-19 epidemic, firms relied on servers and enterprise content management systems to store data. During the epidemic, organisations had to produce data in a variety of locations as a result of increased remote work. Cloud storage, for example, became more popular as a result of wide content distribution over a wide range of environments. Cloud storage services such as Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, and Box gained popularity due to their ability to enable real-time collaboration on shared files and communication. Information governance should be reviewed to incorporate this type of content and the storage, use and responsibilities associated with it.
Information governance with the experts
Organisations rely on information governance policies to establish boundaries around information access and controls. These policies are critical because they not only protect the company’s data and ensure compliance is being met at all levels of the business.
INTELLIWORX can help you reduce risks and increase compliance in your IT environment by providing customised governance, risk, and compliance consulting services. Contact the IT consulting team at INTELLWORX today and implement information governance best practices for your business.