Information Governance

What Is an Information Governance Plan?

Modern life relies heavily on technology and generates a lot of data that organizations transform into usable ...

Modern life relies heavily on technology and generates a lot of data that organizations transform into usable information. Organizations that store, access, and manipulate this information must have a comprehensive strategy for protecting it.

What is an information governance plan? Simply put, it's the strategy organizations use to safeguard their information assets. Whether they use physical storage, local servers, or the cloud, organizations must establish a clear plan for governance.

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What Is an Information Governance Plan in Detail?

In more technical terms, information governance is a strategic framework designed to help organizations manage, protect, and utilize their information assets. Organizations must do this in a manner that complies with legal and regulatory requirements. They must also mitigate risks like ransomware and support business objectives.

Unfortunately, not all companies establish a written plan. Failing to do so can create compliance issues down the line.

Information Governance vs. Data Governance

People often use the terms "data" and "information" interchangeably, but they mean different things in the tech world. Data is the raw material, while information results from organizations analyzing and organizing that data.

For example, a team of payroll tax analysts has thousands of records of payments made on behalf of employees over the years. By itself, a row of these payments does not amount to much. However, when you can tie payments to an individual employee or analyze payroll tax payments for the quarter, that becomes usable information.

How does information governance differ from a data governance plan? The main difference is in the focus of each plan. One protects raw data, and the other protects valuable information.

There is also a difference in scope. Data management tends to focus solely on the management and protection of raw data. Information governance expands beyond the records and includes cybersecurity and network management along with aspects of data management.

Key Elements of an Information Governance Plan

How well a governance plan achieves its goals depends on familiarity with and the inclusion of critical elements. These can vary across industries, organizations, and the data type handled. Consider the following components:

  1. Information mapping and evaluation: Organizations must have an accurate picture of their current data infrastructure and each asset's potential risk and value.
  2. Information lifecycle management: This is all the processes and techniques an organization uses to manage its information assets at different stages.
  3. Records management: Organizations should have a systematic process of organizing, maintaining, and disposing of business-related records throughout their life cycle.
  4. Content management: This includes the creation, storage, organization, and archiving of digital content including email archiving.
  5. Knowledge management: This refers to the collection of processes, systems, and strategies designed to capture and maintain an organization's knowledge.
  6. Electronic discovery: Legal teams use eDiscovery to find and extract information electronically. Organizations use it in litigation and investigations to provide evidence.
  7. Data analytics: Analyze data, organize records, and create reports to turn it into useful information managers can use to make informed decisions.
  8. Information security and access management: Companies should create and enforce policies to protect the data’s integrity and prevent unauthorized access.
  9. Information systems monitoring: Businesses must have systems to monitor users and network activity for suspicious activity.
  10. Data Protection: Data backup ensures the protection of critical information against various threats. Remember, even if you’ve migrated to the Microsoft 365 already, performing data backups is your responsibility.

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An information governance plan is a strategic framework designed to help your organization manage, protect, and utilize your information assets. Organizations must do this in a manner that complies with legal and regulatory requirements.

Benefits of an Information Governance Plan

Why should you introduce a governance plan at your company? Here are some of the top advantages.

Improved Compliance

Organizations must comply with a growing number of data privacy regulations. Examples include Europe's GDPR, America's HIPAA, and California's CCPA. Organizations must prioritize compliance or risk hefty fines. For example, Meta faced a $1.3 billion fine in May 2023 for reportedly violating the GDPR.

We’ve written about email archiving and compliance in another blog post. Take a look.

Increased Efficiency

Organizations can streamline their operations and eliminate redundancies by implementing standardized policies and procedures for managing information. This results in cost savings and improved productivity.

Better Risk Management

A robust information governance plan helps to identify and mitigate various risks associated with information management, such as data breaches, loss of intellectual property, and legal disputes. Organizations can minimize potential financial and reputational damage by proactively addressing these risks.

Enhanced Decision Making

With proper information governance, organizations are better equipped to access, analyze, and leverage their data for better decision-making. This can result in more informed strategic planning, improved business intelligence, and competitive advantage.

Best Practices for a Strong Information Governance Plan

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Like any system, reaping the rewards depends on how well you implement it. Following best practices can set your organization on the right path. Here are some of the most important things to remember when strategizing:

  1. Build a resilient governance framework. Define the main structure and approach for managing information across the organization. Outline the principles, goals, and objectives that guide the development of the information governance program.
  2. Establish policies and procedures. These rules and guidelines govern how information moves throughout the organization. They encompass various aspects of information management, such as data classification, retention, disposal, privacy, and security.
  3. Assign clear roles and responsibilities. Identify the stakeholders involved in the information governance program and outline their specific roles and responsibilities. This includes individuals at various organizational levels, such as executive leadership, business unit managers, legal and compliance teams, and IT staff.
  4. Leverage technology solutions. As organizations continue to generate more and more data, they need the right technology to support effective governance. Examples include tools and systems for data storage, archiving, encryption, and retrieval.

Why Should the Cloud Be Part of Your Information Governance Plan?

Companies must create governance plans that are unique to their businesses. That said, one strategy has helped many companies to manage data worldwide. Consider these reasons for moving to the cloud:

  • Remote access: Cloud computing services make it easy for employees to work remotely. This allows organizations to stay connected and agile, regardless of location. Check out this other article on some of the challenges associated with working remotely.
  • Access management: Use access management controls to set permissions, create strong passwords, and outsource some cloud cybersecurity responsibilities to the provider.
  • Data encryption: The cloud is secured through data encryption, which helps protect information from unauthorized access. Encryption uses different standards, so ensure your provider has encryption that meets your industry’s needs.
  • Automation: By leveraging software-as-a-service solutions, organizations can automate various information governance processes.
  • Scalability: Organizations can easily scale their cloud solutions to meet changing needs. This reduces costs and facilitates more flexibility.

The emergence of the cloud is definitely something to take into account when creating or updating your plan. How will your organization handle the challenges?

How Can Cloudficient Help You Execute Your Plan?

At Cloudficient, our migration specialists have over a century of combined experience in helping companies upgrade to cloud computing. Moving to the cloud opens up a wide range of options for your business. Our clients have entirely re-imagined how they do business, serve clients, and hire workers.

What, in a nutshell, is an information governance plan change that could significantly impact your business for all the right reasons? That's easy: Move to the cloud. Contact us for a quote to get started.

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