Why should my Board think about information governance?

Information governance is a critical issue for boards of all organisations. But how should they do this? Let’s have a look.

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Image by Choffee, used under license. (source.)

Information: A definition

Before we start, let’s define ‘information’. While you might think about structured, personal information, such as information your human resources people keep, or ordering information, I see it differently. As a content strategist, I see all content as ‘information’. This includes emails, websites, and marketing campaigns, just as a taster of what that might mean.

So when we think about information governance we’re really talking about the processes that govern decision-​making that involves information.

Why should Directors worry about this stuff?

Boards have a critical role to play in information governance in traditionally structured organisations. This is largely because information goes down the tree with greater effect and efficiency than it can achieve by being pushed upwards.

Information governance is really about how you create, manage, maintain, archive, and delete information. It’s valuable for directors to think about the information and content flow as the piece that creates efficiency. Being able to make these decisions about information is important if you’re going to have an efficient and productive company.

For example, your employees may need to spend 10 minutes finding the latest information on things. This might be because duplication, mis-​filing, poor archiving, or sifting through old material that should have been removed. If they do this on every second task then over the course of a day it adds up to a huge amount of wasted time. It’s a massive impact on company productivity.

Information governance is about rules, not systems

The challenge is that many boards go straight to the systems, instead of defining the rules to start with. The truth is, information governance must be defined independent of the systems. You don’t want to say ‘computer says no’; you want to say, ‘no, because there’s a rule in place and that rule is…’.

The benefit is clarity

The benefit of being clear about your information governance is that, once it is clear and defined, there’s greater assurance that your teams can simply do what they need to do. They will find a way to do it to their best capacity. Not being clear about how and why necessarily results in difficulty.

In this regard, the issue of governance is as much about clear decision-​making documentation as anything else. Once you have it, things run much more smoothly. It makes decisions about everything (from what you publish to the systems you employ) easier to assess and establish.

Are you on a Board and want more information about how information governance can help you? Contact us for a chat »

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