Once upon a time...A progressive, competitive enterprise - operating in a key market space - made three critical mistakes in its approach to information governance. Warning: This is no fairytale.
While traditionally records managers are faced with managing corporate records policies and schedules - thereby managing the lifecycle of physical and electronc records such as personnel files, reports, financial records, intellectual property, e-mail and other documents that must be classified, stored and accessible - they are responsible for managing the proliferation of electronic information and content that may never be declared a record.
Today, enterprises need help in optimizing their records management processes - enabling fast retrieval only to customers with a legitimate right to use the information all while balancing the cost of compliance.
For example, assume there is a company that operates globally and, while a fierce competitor in its market, it is a Cinderella story in terms of information governance - with three key mistakes positioning to turn day-to-day operations extremely grim.
What three mistakes pose the greatest threat to our unsuspecting enterprise?
- Lack of Defined Strategy: The enterprise's current iteration of records management is administrative in nature and lacks any cross-functional strategic influence. The concept of records management is relegated to managing offsite paper storage accounts, with little to no input on electronic storage and technology strategy. There exists no records management policy that would lend credence to a governance framework. Employees are minimally aware of requirements, with few requirements expressly communicated outside of day-to-day operations. The nature of the enterprise's business operations is not inherently subject to regulation outside of the Human Resource (HR) space. The nascent compliance framework that has grown around information security is not comprehensive.
- Insufficient Processes and Technologies: Without documented policies and procedures, specific processes to address documents and records management cannot be developed. In the absence of guidance, staff developed a best efforts approach to managing documents in accordance with operational procedures using available technology tools, including extremely heavy reliance on email. Unfortunately, these processes and tools do not effectively manage risk associated with over-retention of documents and severely hamper the findability of critical information.
- Disjointed and Duplicated Systems: Critical documents are frequently housed across several applications and repositories, greatly increasing the burden of reconstructing a complete view of any given record. This is sadly due, in part, to the absence of application decommissioning and migration. In addition, email is frequently used as a document repository without any means of classifying or assigning retention. Storage applications are not configured to classify information and easily purge. Audit tools are not used to generate reporting on defined parameters in alignment with policies and procedures.
By 2019, IDC forecasts that the U.S. market for big data and business analytics solutions will reach more than $98 billion. The second largest geographic region will be Western Europe, followed by Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) and Latin America. The two regions with the fastest growth over the five year forecast period will be Latin America and the Middle East & Africa.
Today, competitive enterprises must have a strategy to fully leverage all of this exponentially growing additional information and content that is proliferating. Businesses are under extreme pressure to adapt their business models and to develop an enterprise-wide digital transformation pathway that includes automating manual processes and increasing collaborative capabilities - all while protecting information from breaches and improper use.
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Moral of the Story
Streamline policies and procedures where it makes sense. Keep it simple and out of the hands of users where possible. The less business users need to learn and do gives them more time and energy to do their jobs while records and information management best practices work behind the scenes to reduce the impact and costs of compliance and make the right information easily accessible to the right people.