Explore the benefits of information governance in businesses, from safeguarding data to improving decision-making processes and regulatory...
What is Practical Information Governance?
In today's digital age, data is the lifeblood of organizations. With the exponential growth of data, it has become ...
In today's digital age, data is the lifeblood of organizations. With the exponential growth of data, it has become increasingly challenging for companies to manage and protect their sensitive information.
In the following sections, we will explore the importance of information governance, its key components, and how to develop and implement a successful program. We will also cover the best practices for managing data effectively, the legal and regulatory considerations, and the tools and technologies available to support a governance strategy.
By the end of this guide, you will have a deep understanding of information governance and how to implement a successful program within your organization.
Table of Contents
- What is Practical Information Governance?
- Importance of Information Governance in any Compliance Strategy
- Long Term Benefits of Practical Information Governance
- Key Components of Practical Information Governance
- Data sovereignty & Information Governance – Do you really own your data?
- Developing an Information Governance Program
- Modernizing Information Governance – Build, partner or outsource?
- Implementing an Information Governance program
- Information Governance Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)
- Best Practices for Information Governance in the Cloud Age
- Information Governance across multiple jurisdictions - Legal and Regulatory Considerations
- Current trends in Information Governance Tools and Technologies
- Important KPIs for measuring your Information Governance effectiveness
What is Practical Information Governance?
Practical 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.
When implementing information governance, each individual company's requirements must be taken into consideration to find the optimal equilibrium between the advantages of data sharing and the necessity to maintain the privacy of sensitive data.
Information governance encompasses a range of practices, including
- data security,
- data privacy,
- data management,
- data quality,
- legal and regulatory requirements.
Its objective is to ensure that information is accurate, timely, accessible, and usable, while also protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure. Additionally, it aims to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or disclosure.
A well-designed information governance program can help organizations reduce costs, enhance decision-making capabilities, and achieve their business objectives. It provides a systematic approach to managing data assets and ensures that data is managed in a consistent and reliable manner.
Information Governance is critical for organizations that deal with large volumes of sensitive data. Examples of such organizations include financial institutions, healthcare providers, and government agencies.
Importance of Information Governance
For a large enterprise, implementing a robust information governance program is critical. It helps to achieve organizational goals, reduce costs, and enhance decision-making capabilities. The importance of information governance cannot be overstated in today's digital age.
Here are some of the key reasons why information governance is critical for organizations:
Information governance ensures that organizations comply with legal and regulatory requirements related to data protection, privacy, and security. Non-compliance can result in legal and financial penalties, damage to reputation, and loss of customer trust. Compliance in a global economy is made more difficult. Different regulations and requirements are enforced in different geographic regions within the same industry.
Effective information governance helps organizations manage risks associated with their data assets, including the risks of data breaches, cyberattacks, and data loss. By implementing appropriate policies, procedures, and technologies, organizations can mitigate risks and protect their sensitive information.
A well-designed Information governance program ensures that data is accurate, timely, and accessible. This enables organizations to make informed decisions based on reliable data, which will lead to better outcomes.
Information governance can help organizations reduce costs associated with data storage, management, and security. By implementing policies and procedures to manage data effectively, organizations can eliminate unnecessary data, reduce storage costs, and optimize data usage. Historically some organizations have taken the 'store everything forever' approach. In the modern workplace things have changed, and having everything stored forever can have detrimental effects on an organization during litigation.
Organizations that implement effective information governance can gain a competitive advantage by leveraging their data assets to improve business operations, develop new products and services, and better understand their customers' needs.
Benefits of Information Governance
Information governance provides numerous benefits to organizations, ranging from improved data quality to cost savings and increased efficiency. By ensuring that data is accurate, complete, consistent, and relevant, information governance improves the overall quality of data and enables organizations to make better-informed decisions based on reliable information.
Effective information governance can;
- reduce costs associated with data management, storage, and security
- streamline data management processes, resulting in increased efficiency
- help organizations comply with legal and regulatory requirements related to data protection, privacy, and security
- mitigate risks associated with data breaches, cyberattacks, and data loss.
Improved Data Quality
Ensures that data is accurate, complete, consistent, and relevant. This improves the overall quality of data and ensures that organizations make better-informed decisions based on reliable data.
Helps organizations reduce costs associated with data management, storage, and security. By implementing policies and procedures to manage data effectively, organizations can eliminate unnecessary data, reduce storage costs, and optimize data usage.
Better Risk Management
Helps organizations manage risks associated with their data assets, including the risks of data breaches, cyberattacks, and data loss. By implementing appropriate policies, procedures, and technologies, organizations can mitigate risks and protect their sensitive information.
Ensures that organizations comply with legal and regulatory requirements related to data protection, privacy, and security. Compliance is critical for avoiding legal and financial penalties, damage to reputation, and loss of customer trust.
A well-designed information governance program ensures that data is accurate, timely, and accessible. This enables organizations to make informed decisions based on reliable data, which can lead to better business outcomes.
Organizations that implement effective information governance can gain a competitive advantage by leveraging their data assets to improve business operations, develop new products and services, and better understand their customers' needs.
Effective information governance streamlines data management processes and reduces duplication and inefficiencies. This helps organizations work more efficiently and effectively, saving time and resources.
Key Components of Information Governance
Information governance is a comprehensive framework that encompasses a range of components to manage an organization's data effectively. The key components of information governance include:
Information Management Policies
These policies define how information is created, stored, accessed, used, and disposed of throughout its lifecycle. They also specify who is responsible for managing information and how it should be secured.
Data Privacy and Security
This includes measures to protect data from unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. It involves implementing security controls, such as encryption, access controls, and data masking, to ensure that sensitive information is protected.
Data Quality Management
Effective information governance involves implementing measures to maintain the accuracy, consistency, completeness, and relevance of data. It includes procedures to validate data, correct errors, and eliminate duplication.
Compliance Management includes measures to ensure that an organization complies with legal and regulatory requirements related to data protection, privacy, and security. It involves monitoring compliance, implementing corrective actions, and providing employee training on compliance-related issues.
Information Lifecycle Management
Information governance includes procedures to manage the complete lifecycle of information, from creation to disposal. It involves developing policies for data retention, archiving, and destruction, as well as managing backups and disaster recovery plans.
Information Technology Management
This involves the use of appropriate technology to manage data effectively. This includes implementing software and hardware solutions to store, manage, and secure data.
Data Sovereignty & Information Governance – Do you really own your data?
Data sovereignty suggests that data must adhere to the legal requirements of the nation or area in which it is stored.
The question of whether organizations really own their data is a complex one. In general, organizations have legal rights and responsibilities with respect to their data. These rights include the right to access and use it.
Additionally, organizations have the responsibility to protect it from unauthorized access or use. Lastly, organizations have the obligation to comply with legal and regulatory requirements related to its use.
However, the issue of data sovereignty can complicate matters. For example, if an organization stores data in a cloud service provider's data center located in another country, that data may be subject to the laws and regulations of that country, which may be different from the organization's home country. This can create challenges related to data privacy, security, and compliance.
To address these challenges, organizations need to incorporate data sovereignty considerations into their information governance policies and practices. This may involve
- selecting cloud service providers that offer data residency options
- implementing data protection measures
- ensuring that data is stored and processed in compliance with relevant laws and regulations
Ultimately, the question of who owns data may depend on a variety of factors, including the nature of the data, the legal and regulatory environment, and the policies and practices of the organizations that create, store, and process it. By implementing effective information governance policies and practices, organizations can help ensure that they retain control over their data and that it is managed in a way that is secure, compliant, and aligned with their goals and objectives.
Developing an Information Governance Program
Developing an information governance program is a complex process that requires a comprehensive approach and the involvement of various stakeholders across the organization. The following steps can guide the development of an effective information governance program:
Define the scope and objectives:
The first step in developing an IG program is to define the scope and objectives of the program. This involves identifying the types of data that need to be managed, the stakeholders involved, and the goals of the program.
Identify key stakeholders:
The success of an IG program relies on the involvement of key stakeholders across the organization. Identify the stakeholders that are essential to the program, including IT, legal, compliance, and business leaders.
Develop policies and procedures:
IG policies and procedures define how data is created, accessed, stored, and disposed of throughout its lifecycle. Work with the key stakeholders to develop policies that are consistent with legal and regulatory requirements, as well as the organization's business objectives.
Implement technology solutions:
Technology solutions can help automate and streamline data management processes, such as data classification, retention, and disposal. Evaluate and select the appropriate technology solutions that align with the organization's data management needs.
Provide employee training and awareness:
Effective IG requires employee awareness and training. Develop training programs to educate employees on the importance of data management, the policies and procedures, and their responsibilities in managing data.
Monitor and review the program:
An effective IG program requires ongoing monitoring and review to ensure compliance with policies and procedures, as well as legal and regulatory requirements. Develop a monitoring and review plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and identify opportunities for improvement.
Continuously improve the program:
The final step in developing an IG program is to continuously improve the program. This involves evaluating the program regularly, identifying gaps, and implementing changes to improve the program's effectiveness.
Developing an information governance program is a complex process that requires a comprehensive approach and the involvement of various stakeholders across the organization. The process involves defining the scope and objectives, identifying key stakeholders, developing policies and procedures, implementing technology solutions, providing employee training and awareness, monitoring and reviewing the program, and continuously improving the program. An effective program can help organizations manage their data more effectively, comply with legal and regulatory requirements, and mitigate risks.
Modernizing Information Governance – Build, partner or outsource?
Modernizing information governance can involve a variety of different strategies, depending on the specific needs and goals of the organization in question. When it comes to deciding whether to build, partner, or outsource, there are several factors to consider:
Expertise: Does your organization have the in-house expertise necessary to modernize its information governance practices, or would it need to acquire new skills or knowledge? Is your organization able to continue to keep on top of any new regulations or requirements in the global economy?
Resources: Does the organization have the resources, including time, money, and personnel, to undertake the modernization effort on its own?
Risk tolerance: Does the organization have a high tolerance for risk, or is it risk-averse? Building or partnering can provide more control over the process, but also carries a greater risk of failure or delays. Outsourcing can provide more certainty, but also carries a greater risk of losing control over the process.
Timeline: What is the timeline for modernizing information governance? If the organization needs to move quickly, outsourcing may be the best option. Building or partnering can be more time-consuming, especially if the organization needs to acquire new expertise or resources.
Based on these factors, an organization may choose to:
Build: If the organization has the necessary expertise, resources, and risk tolerance, building a modern information governance system in-house may be a good option. This can provide greater control over the process and result in a more tailored solution, but comes with the risk of having to keep up to date with any changes in requirements, or regulations.
Partner: If the organization has some expertise and resources, but needs additional support, partnering with an outside provider may be a good option. This can help to fill gaps in expertise or resources and provide a more efficient solution. Partners can also be obtained in different geographies, if required, so that local regulations and compliance needs are taken into account.
Outsource: If the organization lacks the necessary expertise, resources, or risk tolerance, outsourcing may be the best option. This can provide a more turnkey solution and reduce the burden on internal teams. However this might cause most friction within your organization when it comes to implementing the program.
Ultimately, the best approach to modernizing information governance will depend on the specific needs and goals of the organization, as well as its available resources and risk tolerance.
Implementing an Information Governance program
Implementing an information governance program can be a complex process that involves several steps. Here are some key steps to consider:
Develop a strategy: Define the purpose, goals, and scope of the information governance program. This should include identifying the types of data the organization manages, who owns the data, where it's stored, and how it's used.
Establish a governance structure: Identify the stakeholders who will be responsible for implementing and overseeing the information governance program. This should include senior leadership, IT, legal, compliance, and other relevant departments.
Develop policies and procedures: Create policies and procedures that outline how the organization will manage, protect, and dispose of its data. This should include data classification, retention schedules, privacy and security controls, and incident response plans.
Implement technology: Implement technology solutions that support the information governance program, such as data classification tools, records management systems, and security controls.
Train staff: Provide training to all staff on the policies and procedures related to the information governance program. This should include training on data classification, handling sensitive data, and responding to data incidents.
Monitor and evaluate: Monitor the effectiveness of the information governance program and evaluate it on a regular basis to ensure it remains current and effective. This should include regular audits and assessments to identify areas for improvement.
Continuous improvement: Continuously improve the information governance program by incorporating new best practices, technologies, and processes.
Implementing an information governance program requires a commitment from senior leadership and a cross-functional team to ensure its success. By following these steps, organizations can develop a program that protects sensitive data, reduces risks, and ensures compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
Challenges of Information Governance
Implementing an effective information governance program can be a challenging process. Some common challenges of information governance include:
Lack of executive support
Information governance requires leadership support to establish a governance framework, allocate resources, and ensure that the organization's information assets are managed effectively. Without executive support these initiatives may fail to gain traction.
Resistance to change
Implementing an effective program requires changes in policies, procedures, and employee behaviors. Employees may be resistant to these changes, particularly if they perceive them as burdensome or difficult to implement. This can be particularly observed if the information governance program is develop solely outside the organization.
Complexity of regulations
The legal and regulatory landscape for information management is complex, with laws and regulations that vary by jurisdiction and industry. Organizations may struggle to keep up with changes in regulations and ensure compliance with multiple requirements.
Lack of resources
Implementing an effective program also requires resources, including personnel, technology, and financial resources. Organizations with limited resources may struggle with this.
Siloed data and systems
Organizations often have multiple data sources and systems, which can make it challenging to manage data effectively. Information governance programs may struggle to integrate data and systems across departments and business units. Taking the time to consolidate repeated systems will dramatically help with your information governance program.
Organizations may lack visibility into their data assets, including what data they have, where it is stored, and who has access to it. This can make it difficult to manage data effectively and ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
Overcoming these challenges requires a collaborative and strategic approach to information governance. Organizations should establish a governance framework, allocate resources, and engage stakeholders to ensure these initiatives are effectively implemented and continuously improved.
Best Practices for Information Governance
Implementing best practices for information governance can help organizations manage their data more effectively and mitigate risks. Here are some best practices:
Establish a cross-functional team
An effective program requires the involvement of various stakeholders across the organization. Establish a cross-functional team that includes IT, legal, compliance, and business leaders to ensure that all aspects of data management are considered.
Develop a comprehensive policy framework
Develop a comprehensive policy framework that covers all aspects of data management, including data creation, storage, access, use, and disposal. The policies should be consistent with legal and regulatory requirements, as well as the organization's business objectives.
Conduct regular data risk assessments
Regular data risk assessments can help identify potential risks to the organization's data, such as data breaches, cyber attacks, and compliance violations. Conduct risk assessments regularly to identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate those risks.
Implement appropriate technology solutions
Implement technology solutions that align with the organization's data management needs, such as data classification, retention, and disposal. Ensure that the technology solutions meet legal and regulatory requirements and are aligned with the organization's business objectives.
Provide employee training and awareness
Develop training programs to educate employees on the importance of data management, the policies and procedures, and their responsibilities in managing data. Ensure that employees are aware of the potential risks associated with data management and are equipped with the knowledge and skills to manage data effectively.
Monitor and review the program
Develop a monitoring and review plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the IG program and identify opportunities for improvement. Regularly review the policies and procedures, technology solutions, and employee training programs to ensure that they remain aligned with legal and regulatory requirements and the organization's business objectives.
Continuously improve the program
Implement a process for continuously improving the IG program. This involves evaluating the program regularly, identifying gaps, and implementing changes to improve the program's effectiveness.
Implementing best practices for information governance can help organizations manage their data more effectively and mitigate risks. Best practices include establishing a cross-functional team, developing a comprehensive policy framework, conducting regular data risk assessments, implementing appropriate technology solutions, providing employee training and awareness, monitoring and reviewing the program, and continuously improving the program.
Legal and Regulatory Considerations
Legal and regulatory considerations are critical for an effective information governance program. Failure to comply with legal and regulatory requirements can result in legal and financial consequences, damage to reputation, and loss of trust. Here are some other considerations to keep in mind:
Privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), require organizations to protect personal information and provide individuals with certain rights related to their personal information. Organizations must ensure that they are complying with these laws, including obtaining appropriate consent for collecting personal information and implementing security measures to protect personal information. Dealing with privacy laws can be especially complex in a global organization where different laws may affect different areas of the business.
Data retention laws
Data retention laws require organizations to retain certain types of data for a specified period. Failure to comply with these laws can result in legal and financial consequences. Organizations must ensure that they are complying with data retention laws and implementing appropriate data retention policies and procedures.
Data breach notification laws
Data breach notification laws require organizations to notify individuals if their personal information has been compromised. Failure to comply with these laws can result in legal and financial consequences. Organizations must ensure that they are complying with data breach notification laws and implementing appropriate data breach response plans.
eDiscovery is the process of producing electronically stored information (ESI) as evidence in legal proceedings. Organizations must ensure that they are complying with eDiscovery requirements and implementing appropriate policies and procedures for managing ESI.
Records management laws
Records management laws require organizations to manage their records, including their electronic records, in a compliant manner. Organizations must ensure that they are complying with records management laws and implementing appropriate records management policies and procedures.
Information Governance Tools and Technologies
Information governance involves managing an organization's information assets throughout their lifecycle, from creation to disposal. To support this process, several tools and technologies are available to assist organizations in their efforts. Here are some common information governance tools and technologies:
Data classification tools
Data classification tools help organizations identify and categorize their data according to its sensitivity, regulatory requirements, and other criteria. This helps organizations apply appropriate controls to ensure data protection and compliance.
Information governance platforms
Information governance platforms are software solutions that help organizations manage their information assets across their entire lifecycle. These platforms provide capabilities such as document management, records management, data retention management, eDiscovery, and compliance management.
Data loss prevention (DLP) tools
DLP tools help organizations prevent data breaches by identifying and preventing the unauthorized transmission of sensitive data, such as personal identifiable information (PII), credit card numbers, and financial information.
Archiving and storage management tools
Archiving and storage management tools help organizations manage the retention, storage, and disposition of their data. These tools ensure that data is stored efficiently, retrieved quickly, and disposed of securely in compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
Metadata management tools
Metadata management tools help organizations manage metadata, which is data about data. Metadata includes information such as file names, data types, and data owners. Managing metadata is essential for data discovery, access control, and compliance.
Governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) tools
GRC tools provide a framework for managing risk and compliance. These tools help organizations identify, assess, and manage risks and compliance requirements across their operations.
Important KPIs for Measuring Your Information Governance effectiveness
To measure the effectiveness of an organization's information governance, there are several Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be used. Some important KPIs are:
Compliance with regulations and industry standards: This KPI measures the organization's ability to comply with relevant regulations and standards such as GDPR, HIPAA, and ISO 27001. In many organization this compliance can be measured by internal or external auditing teams. Demonstrating compliance, for some industries, is critical to doing business and may give your organization a competitive advantage.
Information security incidents: Measure the number of security incidents related to information assets, such as data breaches, cyberattacks, and unauthorized access attempts. This can be a difficult metric to track, as not everything is going to be reported or tracked. Consider whether or not a loss of a USB storage device is properly reported in your organization.
Information asset classification: This KPI measures the percentage of information assets that have been classified according to their sensitivity and importance, as well as the level of protection required for each asset.
Data retention and disposal: This KPI measures the organization's ability to manage the lifecycle of information assets, including how long they are retained, and how they are securely disposed of when they are no longer needed.
Data quality: Measure the accuracy, completeness, and consistency of data across the organization, including how effectively data is collected, stored, and shared. In some organizations this might refer to a situation known as 'a single source of truth'. For example customer data should be stored in one single system across your entire organization and all its references to customers. The truth is that in many organizations data is stored in multiple places, which would in turn lower the organizations score related to this metric.
User access controls: This KPI measures the organization's ability to manage user access to information assets, including the creation and management of user accounts, password policies, and user permissions. In some organizations actually accessing data is also tracked, along with who has access. (See the point below)
Information asset usage: This KPI measures how frequently information assets are accessed, who is accessing them, and how they are being used. In some organizations the downloading of information isn't permitted, meaning that the data can not be leaked-across to other, unintended applications.
Audit and monitoring: This KPI measures the organization's ability to conduct audits of information assets and monitor access to them, including how effectively incidents are identified and resolved.
By tracking these KPIs, organizations can gain insight into the effectiveness of their Information Governance program and identify areas for improvement. Almost all organizations will be on a constant journey when it comes to information governance, especially those organizations who are performing mergers and acquisitions (as those additional organizations add to the complex, and take time to integrate).