governanceNo Matter Where You Go, There You Are

If you’ve been keeping up with these articles you have an understanding what Information Governance is and the team you need to get the job done.

Next you need to understand the current state of your organization’s information governance program based on accepted industry standards. This is important because you need to understand where the program is in terms of maturity before you can begin to plan any improvements. “Great!” you say, “Where do I find that?”

ARMA International, established in 1955, is the international authority for information governance and they created the Generally Accepted Recordskeeping Principles®, or The Principles for short. The Principles are the industry standards for determining the maturity of information governance programs. Here’s a list of those principles and a brief description of each:

Accountability – Is there someone of authority actively involved in ensuring the RIM program is being followed?

Transparency – Is the RIM program documented and easily available for reference by everyone involved? Are established information lifecycle processes open and verifiable?

Integrity – Is the RIM program designed to promote a reasonable expectation that what is available is the one version of truth?

Protection – Is the RIM program designed to ensure the appropriate security of information based on regulatory or operational needs?

Compliance – Is the RIM program designed to comply with all legal and regulatory needs?

Availability – Is the information easily and quickly accessible?

Retention – Is there a documented retention schedule that meets all legal, regulatory, and operational needs?

Disposition – Is the retention schedule followed and documented?

I want to emphasize, as in last month’s article, the need of having an Executive Sponsor to champion the program. This speaks directly to the Principle of Accountability. There is a reason it is the first one listed — without someone of authority actively involved in promoting the program you will not have the support you need to implement it.

Now that you understand The Principles, you need to determine how the rest of your organization perceives them as well. Fortunately ARMA International has tool to aid you in this process.

ARMA International’s NextLevel™ Assessment tool was developed as an objective and unbiased tool to determine the maturity of information governance programs, regardless of size or industry vertical. I recommend it for just this reason. Quite simply every vendor in the business has their own methodology and tools for assessments, and they are all very good at what they do.

I use the ARMA International’s NextLevel™ Assessment tool because the questions that are asked do not lead you into a particular product or service, but simply attempt to gauge the individuals understanding of the information governance program as it pertains to their daily business process. This is it’s greatest strength as well as it’s greatest weakness. The generic nature of the questions can be confusing to some people which can lead to inaccurate scores.

To mitigate this issue I recommend that the survey be administered interactively with someone that can add industry specific context to the questions being asked rather than sending out the survey blindly via email. This not only improves the results, but also continues to build rapport with the individuals that will be assisting you in this journey. The steering committee we discussed in the previous article are the people that should participate in the assessment. They are the people with the greatest understanding of the current program.

Once you have completed all of the interviews, the ARMA International’s NextLevel™ Assessment tool has a very robust reporting capability that readily displays the current maturity state of the program in an easily understood graphical format. The reports will show any deficiencies based on the Principles and will direct you to information you can use to address them. In the next article we’ll discuss the other components you need to build a strategic plan and begin to improve your program.

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