information governanceWe’ve talked a lot about Information Governance and the goal of increasing the productivity of employees, lower costs, increase operational opportunities, and cover downside risk by providing consistency, integrity, security and availability of information throughout the information governance lifecycle. We’ve built a program from the ground up and it’s working as intended. However, the amount of information the organization is creating on a daily basis is expanding and it’s getting harder to keep up with it all. What to do? Remember at the very beginning of this series I said that effective Information Governance is about Process, People and Technology – in that order. Now is the time to add the efficiency that technology can bring to the table.

So let’s talk about getting the right system for your organization. We’ll start by saying there is no magic black box that will swoop in and solve all of your problems. At some point compromises will have to be made, just make sure that the compromises you make are on the process side of the equation. I stress this because I never want to customize software to match some business process because “that’s the way we do business.” While that may be the case now, it is cheaper in the long run to modify a business process than to deal with software customizations you’ve made to a business critical system when the manufacturer sends out an update in the future – and those updates will come.

Over the years I’ve developed an objective process for procuring electronic document management systems that helps focus everyone involved on what is important to the organization and avoid buying something you don’t need. The key part of that last sentence is “everyone.” This is another job for the Steering Committee because; 1) you can’t do everything involved by yourself and 2) what you need in a system is not necessarily what others need. The first step in the process is documenting those needs before you pick up the phone and talking to vendors. It is time to get that committee together to create a list of requirements that will become a checklist you will ultimately use to rate the various systems you will see during this process.

The hardest part of the entire process is creating a list of requirements. Fortunately, you already have several critical ones already developed through the information governance program you have created! Here is a brief list of requirements based on the documents we have outlined in previous articles:

  • The system must allow custom document types used on the organization’s Record Schedule.
  • The system must automate the retention process based on the organization’s Retention Schedule.
  • The system must have an access management process for all files based on the organization’s Access List.

There are three requirements every system should have in order to meet the needs of your organization’s information governance program. The steering committee will come up with its own once they get started thinking about it. The format of this meeting should be a standard brainstorming session – nothing is off limits in the beginning. When you have a list compiled, go back through it and prioritize them with high, medium and low ratings in terms of actual “need.” This prioritized list is the basis of how you will rate the systems you review. You should also use this list to develop your Request For Proposal to vendors so they can address your needs and how their system meets them.

Once you have the vendor responses, it is time to get the committee together again to review them. Use the Requirements List as a scorecard that each member marks with their impressions as to wether a particular system meets each individual requirement. Calculate these results and narrow the field down to only those systems that closely match the requirements. These vendors can be invited for a demonstration to the committee. Use the same scorecard in the demonstration to focus the committee’s attention on the requirements rather than the flashy show they are watching. At the end, you will have a result that everyone can agree meets the organization’s requirements. There you have it – an objective process that meets the organization’s requirements! It always works for me. I hope that it helps you.

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