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Future-proofing Your Information Governance Program

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In today’s digital world, having a reliable and secure information governance (IG) program is paramount. Organizations such as law firms, healthcare providers, manufacturers, and financial institutions need to ensure their data is kept secure, compliant, and easily accessible.

Future-proofing your organization’s IG program is essential for preventing security breaches, potential litigation, and violations of regulations. What steps can you take to future-proof your organization’s IG program?

How to build a modern IG program

The future of IG is only going to become more and more complex. With the amount of data coming at us, and new types of information being created and shared in different formats, there’s a strong need to prioritize and strategize.

While many organizations believe adapting is enough, data governance requires a future-proof approach that is much more proactive than reactive.

Here are a few ways to future-proof your IG program.

Don’t expect a quick fix

When it comes to managing today’s (and tomorrow’s) sheer volume of data, and meeting the challenges of the digital age, a quick fix won’t cut it. Companies need to take a blended approach that combines technology and processes.

While technology can help collect and store data, you need the right processes if you want to be able to make sense of that data. Such processes can help automate tedious tasks like data entry—allowing employees more time to focus on analysis and decision-making. On the other hand, you can use technology to quickly identify and analyze trends in data that may not be immediately apparent to human analysis.

Ultimately, success in the ever-evolving digital age requires a combination of technology and processes. Without both, companies will be unable to face the challenges of tomorrow and ensure long-term business continuity.

Perform a records management audit

To effectively manage their records, it is important for organizations to conduct a records management audit—a comprehensive review of their records, including how they’re created, stored, retrieved, and destroyed.

By taking a proactive approach to records management, organizations can realize many benefits, including improved access to information, greater compliance with regulatory requirements, improved security of records, and better resource utilization. A records management audit can help organizations not only identify areas where they are not meeting their records management needs, but also to develop strategies that address these issues.

Find the right balance

As more employees work remotely or in hybrid work environments, business information is being shared on various channels and online platforms. To maintain control over this crucial company data, managers must keep an open mind while establishing clear policies and procedures.

Finding the right balance between enabling innovation and enforcing governance is pivotal. A comprehensive IG program enables your organization to manage rampant data growth over multiple repositories while also complying with burgeoning and regulatory requirements.

But be careful not to lose focus on innovation. Modern businesses need to be able to experiment and move quickly or they’ll be left behind. Employees should feel comfortable embracing new technologies and practices while understanding the best practices of data sharing.

The key is to give employees the breathing room they need to be creative, while still providing guidelines that protect your organization’s data. When everyone understands the parameters, they can focus on their work without worrying about stepping over the line. This openness fosters a culture of innovation and helps your business stay ahead of the curve.

Update policies and procedures

Policies and procedures should be living documents—reviewed and updated regularly to ensure they are still relevant, effective, and current with regulations, technology, and IG best practices.

Before updating any policies or procedures, however, you should first seek input from stakeholders. After all, they are the ones who will be most affected by the changes. Once you have their input, you can start drafting the new policies or procedures.

Establish categories for valuable information

To reduce storage volume and gain control over information flow, creating records categories and repositories for valuable information—and establishing a consistent IG taxonomy—is paramount.

Determining what categories to use can be daunting, but there are methods to help:

  • Start by gaining an understanding of the types of categories used in your industry
  • Conduct industry research to find out which categories are most popular
  • Look at your organization’s structure to help you identify which categories make the most sense for your needs

Once you have a good understanding of the types of categories available to you, you can start to narrow down your options and determine the types of information you need to store. This can include things like customer information, financial records, supplier information, and more.

Develop a communication plan

Legal, Records, and IT departments often work in silos and may be unaware of shared company initiatives. Bridging those silos and streamlining communications keeps all parties informed and up to date with company-wide rollouts. By forming a communication plan, you will be more successful at getting your program off the ground.

There are several things to consider when developing a communication plan:

  • Who needs to be communicated with?
  • What is the best way to reach them?
  • What message needs to be conveyed?

Answering these questions helps create a foundation for your communication plan and helps identify what should be included, so you can start to develop your plan and the most effective communication channels.

Consider an integrated approach

As businesses increasingly move toward a digital workplace, having an integrated approach to managing data is essential. An integrated approach combines traditional paper-based information with digital formats—allowing for easier access to important documents.

By leveraging document conversion services and the latest digital technologies, businesses can convert their paper files into digital formats that help them easily find and share information. This approach helps streamline processes, reduce costs, and improve collaboration.

Furthermore, digital formats are more secure than paper—making them ideal for managing sensitive and confidential information.

Make IG a collaborative effort

To make IG an effort that drives business success, it is important to build partnerships with vendors, staff members, key business departments, and executive leaders. This helps streamline IG processes, automate workflows, strengthen security, and build momentum.

It is also important to ensure that all stakeholders involved in the IG process are on the same page and have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities so they can work toward the same goals.

Finally, make sure all stakeholders are aware of the latest IG trends and best practices, as this will help keep everyone up to date with the most effective strategies for success.

Leverage privacy awareness

When it comes to receiving executive buy-in for your plan, leveraging privacy awareness and explaining how data breaches can affect your bottom line is key. The average cost of a U.S. data breach is $9.44 million, and those figures are rising. From the cost of losing access to mission-critical data to the potential liability of being at fault for leaking client information, put a price on everything.

With the costs of privacy breaches summed up for them, executives are often willing to invest in IG plans to help protect the company’s data and its customers’ privacy. When presenting your IG plan to executives, explain the potential financial impacts of data breaches, such as potential fines and reputational damage. Explain the steps you’re taking to protect customer data and why this is important for the company. Show them how investing in your IG plan can help them avoid costly data breaches, protect customer data, and ultimately help their bottom line.

By making the connection between privacy awareness and financial security, you’ll be more likely to get the executive buy-in you need for your IG plan.

Centralize document management

Centralizing document management is becoming increasingly important as the regulatory compliance landscape continues to evolve. Document management software or a cloud-based document management system can offer a secure and reliable way to store and manage documents.

This type of software can also provide user-friendly tools for uploading and sharing files, creating and tracking workflows, and keeping track of versions. With a centralized document management system, organizations can ensure that records are managed securely and accessed efficiently. Furthermore, they can reduce the risk of data loss or unauthorized access.

By centralizing document management, organizations can ensure their records are kept compliant with the latest regulations, as well as provide an efficient way to manage their documents.

Set KPIs and benchmarks

When it comes to developing an effective IG program, it is essential to set key performance indicators (KPIs) and benchmarks. KPIs are important for assessing the effectiveness of your program, and benchmarks can provide valuable insights into necessary improvements.

For example, you may want to set a KPI for the number of IG documents produced each year. This will help you determine if your program is meeting its goals. You may also want to set a benchmark for the quality of the documents produced. This will ensure the documents are up to the standard you expect.

Additionally, setting benchmarks for the cost of the program and the time it takes to produce documents can help you make informed decisions about budgeting and staffing your program. By taking the time to set KPIs and benchmarks, you can ensure your IG program is running as efficiently as possible.

Perform ongoing employee training

It is important for any business to keep its employees informed about the latest policy updates and best practices for information lifecycle management. An IG policy is effective only if employees comply with it, and the only way that can happen is if they understand it.

Therefore, it is essential to provide ongoing training to staff on how to properly use the technology and stay up to date with the latest policies and procedures. Training should include topics such as data security and privacy, information access rights and responsibilities, and data retention guidelines.

Additionally, it is important to regularly provide refresher training to ensure everyone is on the same page. With the proper training, your staff can be confident they understand the importance of following the IG policy and can help create a culture of compliance.

Do you want to build a successful information governance program? VRC is here to help. We’ve helped hundreds of organizations build a program that ensures compliance and data security. Contact us today to learn more.

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