Information Governance

‘Governance’ is a very widely used word that conceals a range of issues beneath it. My own view is that an information management policy and strategy should be technology neutral, and that an information governance looks at the interaction between information and technology. This leads me nicely into the work of the Information Governance Initiative. It’s definition of information governance is “the activities and technologies that organizations employ to maximize the value of their information while minimizing associated risks and costs.” The IGI undertakes surveys, runs events and has a good blog. Although based in the USA it does take a reasonably global perspective. A good starting point on an information governance journey would be a Gartner briefing paper dating from 2006. Although by no means the earliest reference to information governance it does a very good job of making the case for governance. There is also a 2011 briefing paper from Forrester Group which sets out to link information governance (albeit with a strong data governance elements) into creating business value. In contrast to the data governance perspective of Forrester AIIM takes more of a records management view of the topic. Yet another perspective on governance is the need to manage SharePoint implementations and it is perhaps indicative of the complexity of the issues that Microsost SharePoint 2013 Planning for Adoption and Governance runs to 340 pages.

Tony Hulme, an information governance specialist at IBM has written a paper on IBM’s own approach to information governance which includes an excellent summary of the business case for information governance.

  • Deliver trusted information for greater insight and smarter decisions that are more aligned to business goals.
  • Eliminate wasted time and cost associated with managing information by automating Information Governance practices.
  • Ensure information remains protected, high quality and cost effective throughout its lifecycle, across your IT landscape.
  • Align information to business requirements – so that your organization gets the information it needs exactly when it needs it.
  • Ensure compliance with legal, industry and corporate mandates.

These variations in perspective need to be appreciated in looked at research on the topic. IBM even has a patent on a crowd sourcing approach to information governance! A very good overview of the issues around information governance can be found in a 2015 thesis by Michael Smith at the University of Phoenix in which he highlights the critical success factors for information governance adoption. The thesis has an extensive bibliography. Much of the research literature focuses on governance in the health case sector, where patient record management is of great importance. Because of the technology elements of information governance the CIO function has to be able to manage a much broader range of governance issues, a topic discussed by Peter Beijer and Michiel Kooper in a paper for a conference in 2010. There was a special issue of the Journal of Management Information Systems in December 2013 on IT aspects of information governance, including an excellent paper by Paul P. Tallon et al entitled The Information Artifact in IT Governance: Toward a Theory of Information Governance but the issue and the paper are behind a subscription firewall. The same situation applies to a paper by David Haynes on the important issue of social media, risk and information governance.

Of the many books that have been published on this topic the two on my own bookshelf are

Information Governance: Concepts, Strategies, and Best Practices Robert Smallwood 2014

Information Governance and Assurance Alan MacLennan 2014

In total they will provide all the practical guidance you are likely to need.

See also Information Management, Information Maturity, Information Policies, Information Quality, Information Risk, Information Sharing, Information Value

Martin White

April 2017

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