Information Governance

Principles of Information Governance: A Guide for Businesses

As the digital age continues to evolve, understanding and implementing the principles of information governance becomes ...

As the digital age continues to evolve, understanding and implementing the principles of information governance becomes increasingly crucial for businesses. These guiding tenets offer a strategic framework for managing and utilizing an organization's data effectively.

This blog post will delve into key aspects such as identifying authorized personnel, handling sensitive data with care, and transforming mere 'information' into valuable 'knowledge'. We'll also explore the American Health Information Management Association's (AHIMA) take on these principles and their importance in maintaining information integrity.

Finally, we'll provide insights on how to implement these principles within your organization in a verifiable manner. From obtaining buy-in from top leadership to conducting regular training sessions - every step counts towards establishing a robust information governance program. Read on as we cover the principles of information governance and provide you with valuable insight into practical information governance for your organization.

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Table Of Contents:

What is Information Governance?

Information Governance is a framework for managing an organization's information assets. It is designed to be practical, efficient, and aligned with the organization's goals and objectives. It involves the development and implementation of policies, procedures, and controls to manage information throughout its lifecycle, from creation to disposal. It focuses on actionable steps that don't hinder the associated business processes. Good information governance increases quality data and information to both applications (or systems) and employees.

The Growing Importance of Information Governance

In today's digital age, organizations are handling an increasing amount of sensitive personal data. Given the sensitivity of patient records and other confidential information in sectors such as healthcare, effective information governance is essential. As such, robust information governance has become a necessity. If your organization isn't in the healthcare sector there may well still be an information governance framework specific to your industry or geography. If there isn't it's still well worth investing time in developing suitable for your organization. A chief information governance consultant is an ideal corporate title that should be attribute to someone in your organization who is responsible for this aspect of your operations. Applicable laws for your organization might also vary between geographies. So if your organization policies don't take this aspect into account you'll need to review them as soon as possible. 

Controlling Access to Sensitive Information

To prevent unauthorized access or accidental disclosure, it's crucial to establish strict guidelines on who can access sensitive information. Only those individuals whose roles require them to interact with the data should have access. Organizational policies surrounding sensitive information are critical and covers much more and in some cases this governance sets organizational goals around such access.

Managing Outputs Containing Sensitive Information

Organizations should take steps to manage the utilization and dissemination of this data within their operations, beyond just limiting who has access. Strict protocols should be in place for producing reports or other outputs that contain sensitive details. These might include anonymizing certain elements or implementing rigorous review processes before any such documents are distributed. HIPAA privacy rule provides guidance on how to handle sensitive information.

Third-Party Interactions

This careful management extends not just to internal procedures but also interactions with third parties like vendors or partners too. Third-party risk management is an important aspect of information governance that organizations should not overlook.

All these measures underline why information governance is so important: It helps protect both the organization itself from potential legal issues due to breaches while preserving trust between you and your clients/customers by safeguarding their personal details.

Key Takeaway: 

Organizations must prioritize information governance in today's digital age to protect sensitive personal data, control access to it, manage how it is used and shared internally and with third parties, and prevent potential legal issues due to breaches. 

AHIMA's Principles of Information Governance

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has established eight fundamental principles to guide the governance of an organization's informational assets. These principles encompass accountability, transparency, integrity, protection, compliance, availability, retention, and disposition.

Accountability Principle in Organizational Records Management

One crucial aspect of AHIMA information governance principles is the principle of accountability. This means that designated individuals within your organization are responsible for ensuring adherence to information governance policies. It involves defining roles and responsibilities clearly.

Transparency through Clear Documentation Processes

Transparency, another vital principle, emphasizes clear documentation processes. All actions related to data management should be traceable and verifiable with a proper audit trail. This helps foster trust among stakeholders while also aiding in regulatory compliance efforts.

Integrity as a Reflection of Actions or Decisions Taken

The principle of integrity ensures that all decisions taken or actions performed reflect honesty and ethical conduct concerning information handling. Data must always remain accurate, complete, and reliable throughout its lifecycle from creation until disposal. To maintain information is often not a cheap undertaking. Just the opposite: it usually costs organizations considerable amounts of money but an organization's policies around integrity may set it apart from competitors.

Protection against Loss, Alteration, Destruction, or Unauthorized Use/Access

Data protection, a key component emphasized by AHIMA, includes measures like encryption, backup strategies, firewalls, etc., which safeguard sensitive info-assets against potential threats such as loss, alteration, destruction, unauthorized use/access, etc. In fact an organization's information management strategy in general should encompass this kind of data protection.  

Compliance with Laws/Regulations Concerning Record Keeping Practices

This refers to adhering to laws and regulations around generally accepted recordkeeping principles. It also means staying updated on any changes to these requirements over time. For instance, HIPAA and GDPR have specific rules about how health and personal data respectively are managed, stored, shared, and deleted. Failing to comply with regulations can lead to hefty fines and legal repercussions. We've got more on information governance and regulatory compliance in another blog post.

Data Availability

Of course secure storage is a must-have requirement when data is not in use, but organizations must also make sure their data records are readily accessible when needed, without compromising security or privacy concerns.

Data Retention

Your organization's policies are data retention are also important. Deciding how long data should be kept needs to balance regulatory requirements as well as geographic laws. If you need to review your strategy we've got a great article that can help you beat the challenges and get the benefits.

Data Disposition at End of Life

The last principle in AHIMA information governance principles covers what should happen to data when it has reached the end of its life. Secure disposal of data once the data retention period has expired means that there are no residual traces of the information.  If you or your team maintain information for your organization, all of the steps in this set of principles can really help your business.

In fact Cloudficient Expireon has a strong emphasis on both data retention and expiration. Take a look at the link for more information.

Key Takeaway: 

AHIMA's Principles of Information Governance cover eight fundamental principles, including accountability, transparency, integrity, protection, compliance, availability retention and disposition. 

These principles ensure that designated individuals are responsible for managing data while adhering to laws and regulations concerning record-keeping practices. Additionally, the principle of integrity ensures ethical conduct in all actions taken related to information handling.

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Transforming 'Information' into Valuable 'Knowledge'

By following the principles of information governance, data can be transformed into information and further refined into valuable knowledge.

Effective information governance involves more than just collecting and storing data. Organizing and analyzing data to gain insights is a strategic approach necessary for effective information governance, which can then be used to make informed business decisions.

An eCommerce business can utilize customer data to glean understanding of user habits, which can be incredibly useful for formulating marketing plans and product expansion projects. But to unlock this potential value, businesses must adhere to strong principles of information management, including accountability, transparency, and integrity. (Such as those described by AHIMA, even if you're not in the healthcare sector)

By implementing these principles, businesses can not only avoid legal repercussions but also create a culture where everyone understands the importance of proper record-keeping practices. This leads to enhanced operational efficiency, reduced costs, and improved service delivery.

Taking Information Governance Beyond Compliance

Unfortunately, many organizations focus solely on meeting minimum regulatory requirements rather than seeing the bigger picture. To truly leverage the power of their informational assets, companies must shift their perspective and view information governance as an integral part of their overall strategy. Organizational policies need to be defined, practiced and adhered to.

This mindset shift requires buy-in from top leadership, clear communication across all levels, and regular training sessions. By embedding these principles deep within the organizational DNA, businesses can ensure they are lived on a daily basis rather than simply viewed as rules to follow.

Implementing the Principles within Your Organization

The principles of information governance aren't just theoretical concepts to be understood; they need to be effectively implemented within your organization. This process can pose unique challenges, as it requires a holistic approach involving top leadership buy-in, clear communication across all levels, and regular training sessions.

Buy-in from Top Leadership for Effective Implementation

Top Leadership must be onboard when implementing the principles of information governance. 

Leaders must understand the importance of these principles and their role in ensuring compliance with them. They should set an example by adhering strictly to these guidelines themselves and promoting their value throughout the organization.

Clear Communication Across All Levels for Successful Adoption

Effective communication is key when introducing new procedures or expectations within an organization. When introducing new information governance standards, all staff should be informed of what is anticipated of them, why these alterations are required and how they will affect daily tasks. This involves communicating why these changes are necessary, how they will impact daily operations, and what each individual's responsibilities will entail.

Regular Training Sessions To Ensure Comprehension And Application

To ensure that everyone understands how to comply with new protocols related to data management and security measures based on AHIMA's Information Governance Principles (IGPHC), regular training sessions are crucial. These trainings provide employees with practical examples and scenarios which help cement their understanding while also allowing opportunities for questions or concerns about implementation details.

Beyond initial training sessions at rollout time though, maintenance learning programs would also play a vital role here - this could include periodic refresher courses updates on legal/regulatory changes affecting record keeping practices etc., thus helping maintain ongoing compliance even as the business environment evolves over time.

Key Takeaway: 

The principles of information governance must be effectively implemented within an organization, which requires buy-in from top leadership, clear communication across all levels, and regular training sessions. Leaders should set an example by adhering to these guidelines themselves and promoting their value throughout the organization. 


Information governance is crucial in the digital age - identifying authorized access, handling sensitive information with care, and implementing AHIMA's Principles of Information Governance can transform information into valuable knowledge.

Accountability, transparency, integrity, protection, compliance, availability, retention periods, and disposition are key areas organizations should focus on when implementing information governance.

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