Successful Information Governance when the Bosses Just Don't Care
We regularly discuss the value and importance of information governance - at our conference, in our training courses, in our virtual events. And we're by no means alone - every association and consulting firm in the industry has been making the same points for years.
And if you're reading this post, you probably get it already. But what if your bosses still don't care? How can you move your organization's information governance program forward in the absence of management support or interest?
There are two ways to approach this.
Option 1: Try To Get Your Bosses to Care
You've likely been doing this - and goodness knows so have we! What we'd suggest here is to get very specific about the value of effective information governance from a couple of different perspectives.
- The Value of Information - For years we've said, and many other organizations and publications have echoed, "Information is your most important asset." One of the ways you can get IG to resonate with senior management is to describe its benefits in financially quantifiable terms that align to the organization's goals and objectives. Specificity matters; instead of arguing that better information management is better, provide detailed metrics that underscore how much better the organization could achieve its goals if only it managed its information better. The quote from the late Lew Platt, former CEO of HP, remains relevant: "If only HP knew what HP knew, we would be three times more productive."
- The Costs of Operating "At the Speed of Paper" - How much does it cost your organization to process invoices, or handle onboarding, or develop a new product - at the speed of paper? You can determine these figures and compare them to industry benchmarks to get an idea of potential savings.
- Key metrics here might include:
- Time required to execute a particular process or transaction
- Cost of executing a particular process
- How many staff are required to execute, support, and manage a particular process
- Whether the volume of transactions for a process is increasing, and if so by how much
- Key metrics here might include:
- Risk and Compliance - In the age of GDPR, where every week brings another data breach, organizations have a duty to their customers to safeguard information, especially personal data, and to be able to demonstrate their effective handling of information. This is the "eat your vegetables" side of information management - it's not the star of the meal but it's very good for you and will help to keep you healthy. And no organization wants to make the national news for a data breach.
In all cases, case studies and stories can really help make the case. Certainly, on the risk side, you hope to never have a case study from your own organization - but if you do, it's hard to find one more relevant because you know what happened, you know the costs to recover, you know all the outcomes.
Option 2: Make It So Your Bosses Don't Need to Notice
Senior management should be focused on strategic issues and outcomes, not the minutiae of information management. This applies to your staff as well. Most of them are not paid to manage information; rather, they are paid to design, develop, manage, operate, etc. So the most effective way to ensure better information management is to automate it, such that users don't know it's happening.
This requires some work in terms of updating processes and business rules - but that needs to happen anyway as they change to meet updated business and compliance requirements. If you're engaging in a process automation initiative, it's pretty straightforward to identify the information outputs, determine what needs to happen to them, and include those steps in the automated process.
The most powerful point of impact for information management is often the point of service or point of capture. This goes to the point earlier about working at the speed of paper. If you digitize everything that moves as soon as possible in a particular work process, the rest of that process can be automated and will move at the speed of digital.
If you can automate key information management tasks such that they "just happen" in the background, they are more likely to get done and to be done efficiently and consistently. This will help the organization achieve its objectives while reducing its risks, and that's a story senior management will want to hear.