Information governance is a comprehensive management strategy that treats corporate information as a valuable business asset by putting in place roles, processes, metrics, and controls.
Ensuring compliance, cutting storage costs, simplifying management, and making information assets accessible to those who require them are the goals of a holistic approach to information governance. As a result, the business is better equipped to adapt to a shifting market and lowers the legal risks associated with improperly or inconsistently preserved information.
Giving staff members reliable and convenient access to data for decision-making is a key objective of information governance. Security, storage, and database teams often share responsibility for data governance activities in many organizations.
data governance and information governance
Understanding the distinction between data governance and information governance, a question that often arises, reveals a subtle difference. Data is not necessarily synonymous with information, as information cannot exist without underlying data.
In essence, information governance pertains to data assets with precisely defined business meanings. In contrast, data governance deals with the oversight of the physical aspects of data—its storage, security, and transport. Individuals implementing data governance may carry out tasks related to data without a comprehensive understanding of its meaning. On the contrary, in information governance, meaning holds paramount importance.
Information Governance Challenges
Despite having a clear vision and robust management support, achieving success in information governance is not guaranteed. Several common challenges may arise during its implementation, including the following:
Compliance and regulatory issues
Information governance is frequently necessary for an organization in the event of a lawsuit or other negative outcome of noncompliance. At these times, compliance teams have to sift through millions of pages of papers, if not more rows of data, in order to find material that has been sought for legal reasons. Even in the best of times, this process—also known as electronic discovery, or e-discovery—can be overwhelming. If the organization’s information is not easily accessible and in an orderly structure, it could turn into a nightmare.
A universal metadata taxonomy for consistent information tagging, a consistent retention management/defensible disposal policy and process, and a data classification program to rank all information assets according to sensitivity are some of the strategies that organizations can use to mitigate this challenge.
Big data and machine learning
The increasing importance of machine learning in enterprises relies on big data, presenting challenges in managing large amounts of information. Maintaining the accuracy and cleanliness of big data is crucial, and a robust governance policy can contribute to this objective.
Effectively managing data throughout its lifecycle in various domains poses a significant challenge in information governance implementation. As information becomes more centralized, inconsistencies in its management may emerge, leading to friction between groups. Achieving consensus among groups on the process of refreshing, modifying, and archiving information is a responsibility of the governance officer and council.
Importance of information governance
Information governance is essential for any organization because it increases the accessibility of information for those who need it. Poor information asset management and organization affects businesses of all shapes and sizes, creating problems with security, timeliness, accessibility, and ease of use—all of which are areas that governance may help with. The same information may frequently be found in multiple places, which causes updating problems.
Confusion might arise when the same information appears in multiple locations and is inconsistent. Information can be made more reliable by establishing a single source of truth (SSOT) through effective information governance. Because of its importance, effective information governance has been elevated to a C-suite role in many organizations, with an executive in charge of putting it into practice.
Establishing an information governance council is another increasingly popular practice among businesses. This council is made up of important stakeholders such as subject matter experts who are well-versed in the use of specific information, IT personnel who handle infrastructure and security, and management-level representatives from all business divisions. In addition to providing important guidance for the continuous development of governance policy, this governance council frequently assists the executive officer in putting it into practice and upholding it.
Employees at all levels and in all departments must actively participate in the enterprise’s commitment to information integrity. Information governance procedures should be actively promoted, regularly updated, and promoted throughout the entire organization.
1. Protecting Sensitive Data
One of the primary objectives of information governance is to protect sensitive data. Businesses collect and store vast amounts of information, including customer details, financial records, and intellectual property. A robust information governance strategy helps in implementing security measures to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyber threats. This is not only essential for maintaining the trust of customers but also for compliance with data protection regulations.
2. Compliance with Regulations
With the increasing focus on data privacy and security, regulatory bodies worldwide have implemented stringent laws and regulations. Information governance ensures that businesses comply with these regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), or industry-specific standards. Non-compliance can lead to severe legal consequences and damage to a company’s reputation.
3. Optimizing Data Management
Businesses often face challenges related to the sheer volume of data they generate and collect. Information governance provides a structured approach to data management, helping organizations organize, classify, and store data efficiently. This optimization not only improves operational efficiency but also makes data readily accessible when needed, facilitating better decision-making processes.
4. Enhancing Data Quality
Quality data is critical for informed decision-making. Poor-quality data can lead to errors, misinformation, and faulty analyses. Information governance includes processes for data validation, cleansing, and maintenance, ensuring that the data used across the organization is accurate, consistent, and reliable.
5. Mitigating Risks and Liabilities
In the event of legal disputes, having a well-defined information governance strategy in place can be a lifesaver. It enables businesses to demonstrate due diligence, proving that they have taken reasonable steps to manage and protect their data. This proactive approach helps mitigate legal risks and liabilities associated with data-related issues.
6. Facilitating Collaboration:
Information governance encourages collaboration by breaking down data silos within an organization. When data is managed cohesively across departments, teams can work more efficiently, share insights, and collaborate on projects. This collaborative environment promotes innovation and agility, two essential factors for staying competitive in today’s fast-paced business landscape.
7. Supporting Business Continuity
Disasters, whether natural or technological, can disrupt business operations. Information governance includes strategies for data backup, disaster recovery, and continuity planning. By safeguarding data against loss, businesses can ensure that critical information is recoverable, supporting uninterrupted operations even in challenging circumstances.
Frameworks for information governance
Information governance frameworks play a crucial role in managing various organizational tasks and goals effectively. While different organizations may have diverse objectives, creating frameworks helps standardize efforts in handling information, regardless of the organization’s unique approach.
These frameworks outline the key aspects of company information, addressing fundamental questions applicable to all types of information:
- What does this data actually mean?
- Who employs it?
- Where does it originate from and how is it made?
- How are users using it?
- Who is able to use it?
- Why does it matter?
- For what duration is it useful?
- What additional information is dependent on this information?
Answering these questions for each information asset within the enterprise is a substantial task. However, once an organization gathers these answers, a clear path to managing the information emerges.
Frameworks are customized to meet the organization’s governance needs and should define the following areas:
- Policy: Establishes overarching corporate policies and procedures relevant to the information governance program, encompassing data security, records management, retention and disposal schedules, privacy, and information sharing policies.
- Process: Clearly defines how policies are implemented within the organization.
- Roles and Accountability: Identifies key roles within the information governance program, specifying the responsibilities of employees and departments involved. It addresses questions such as ultimate responsibility for managing specific information and consequences of mismanagement.
- Metrics: Enables tracking of information quality, access, and lifecycle management. Strong metrics contribute to effective risk management.
- Compliance: Highlights legal and regulatory concerns, ensuring they are addressed appropriately.
- Scope: Establishes the extent of the information governance program, outlining overall goals, staff involvement, and the types of data the program is designed to manage.
- Internal and External Data Management: Defines how employees and the organization manage specific data, covering legal and regulatory compliance, acceptable content types, personal information management, storage, archiving, disposal, and information sharing.
- Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC): Outlines procedures in case of a data breach, covering reporting, incident management, DR processes, BC strategies, and auditing.
- Continuous Monitoring: Includes plans for quality assurance (QA) of information governance processes, monitoring information access and use, measuring regulatory compliance adherence, maintaining effective security, conducting risk assessments, and periodic reviews of the information governance program.
Laws and Regulations of information governance
Information governance is a regulated field that extends beyond best practises since it is closely linked to security, privacy, and compliance issues. Rules requiring strict information governance processes have become prevalent as corporate data numbers rise and technological improvements enhance company potential. Personally identifiable information (PII) is a prominent target for hackers, as evidenced by data privacy and security regulations. Regulations such as the Data Protection Directive of the European Union are impacting the worldwide information security (infosec) governance requirements for businesses.
Records and electronic communications must be kept for a minimum amount of time according to requirements that apply to many businesses, particularly highly regulated ones like energy and financial services. Information request response times are governed by mandates from federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Companies are frequently required by regulatory reporting requirements to submit a compliance account at predetermined intervals, like once a year, usually in the form of raw or summary data.
Examples of laws and regulations
The following are some examples of regulations and laws that information governance deals with:
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU law protecting consumer privacy and giving customers the ability to limit the amount of personal data that businesses share with them.
Healthcare organisations must adhere to strict HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance regulations in order to safeguard patient medical information privacy.
The Foreign Corrupt Practises Act (FCPA) places a strong emphasis on compliance, establishing guidelines for ensuring record authenticity and enabling organisations to provide evidence of information authenticity when required.
Information Governance Models
- The Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM) helps important stakeholders communicate the procedures, responsibilities, guidelines of an information governance program. Intends to create a precise map of who is responsible for what in terms of information management both inside and across organisations.
- The Information Governance Maturity Model (IGMM) is in line with the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles and places an emphasis on best practises. promotes the use of progressive and compliant procedures, which increases organisational effectiveness, competitiveness, and customer focus.
- The Information Governance Implementation Model (IGIM) lowers risk, fosters cooperation, and encourages the widespread adoption of processes by helping stakeholders develop a shared understanding of governance principles and regulations.