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Top 10 Ways to Fail at Information Governance

A successful information governance program helps organizations effectively use and manage their assets to drive maximum value, while minimizing information-related risks and costs. While many organizations see information governance as a difficult undertaking, it’s actually easier than they may think.

In a recent webinar, Barclay Blair, an expert in the field and president of ViaLumina, a consulting firm that helps companies build information governance programs, discussed the keys to successfully implementing information governance. Here are his top ten pitfalls to avoid:

Pitfall No. 1 : Create a records management department of one
Best-in-class organizations know that records management—an important part of information governance—requires the right support.
“Many companies that I go into today say, ‘Yes, we’re doing records management as part of information governance,’” said Blair. “[But] it’s one person. That’s not a recipe for success.” When setting your goals for information governance, be sure to consider how much time and effort an ongoing, successful system will entail.

Pitfall No. 2 : Set perfection as a goal
It’s as true in information governance as it is in life: If you set the bar too high, you’ll always fail. Before getting started, sit down with business leaders and decide on realistic information governance goals for your organization. Even if the system you implement is not 100 percent perfect, it will be a vast improvement from your current state.

Pitfall No. 3 : Implement technology before policy
“We did this with email about 20 years ago, and look where we are today,” said Blair.
“Email is at the root of billions and billions of dollars of costs.” Choosing the right information governance technology is paramount, but without effective policies and guidelines in place, it can only go so far.

Pitfall No. 4 : Forgo formal planning
To make information governance work for your organization, you need to carefully consider all the requirements. When business leaders sit back and let this phase evolve organically, said Blair, they run into problems down the road.

Pitfall No. 5 : Don’t get senior management commitment
At the root of many information governance pains and failures is a lack of support from senior management. As you implement information governance, get buy-in from C-level executives.
“Make sure your program has fundamental support, accountability, and mandate from the most senior levels,” said Blair.

Pitfall No. 6 : Don’t adapt corporate governance to information governance
If your organization is like many others and doesn’t have the right senior executives in place to sustain information governance,
you may need to adapt roles to support the program. For example, said Blair, “The vast majority of CIOs in fact are not responsible for information: They’re responsible for information technology or infrastructure. And that’s a problem. But an even bigger problem is that the other C-level executives think that the CIO is in fact responsible for information.”

Many organizations don’t have a C-level executive with authority over information in the enterprise, said Blair. “Unless and until that gap is filled, we will never achieve our goals of information governance, and we will never see the full value that information governance can provide.”

Pitfall No. 7 : Treat information governance as a project
Information governance is an ongoing program that needs constant support. Treating it like a one-off project will ensure that “once all of the fanfare has died down, there’s nobody to take the mantle and run it as part of your everyday enterprise,” said Blair.

Pitfall No. 8 : Don’t realistically estimate costs and benefits
Guessing in the dark at costs and benefits means you won’t be able to measure success or failure down the road. Spend the time to realistically estimate what your organization needs to do to build successful information governance before you move forward with building the system.

Pitfall No. 9 : Assume that all users will want information governance
Not all departments will see the importance of better information management or how it can help them. “The value of information governance is different for every group and department,” said Blair. “You need to articulate that and provide that value,
otherwise you will fail.”

Pitfall No. 10: Set unrealistic timelines and arbitrary deadlines
According to Blair, the importance of being realistic cannot be underestimated: Organizations need to understand that information governance cannot be implemented overnight. Know that success takes time and effort—and remember that your mother was right when she said anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Want to learn more about information governance? Find out how to start your own information governance program at www.OpenText.com/InfoGov.

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OpenText is the leader in Enterprise Information Management (EIM). Our EIM products enable businesses to grow faster, lower operational costs, and reduce information governance and security risks by improving business insight, impact and process speed.

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