This post is the third in a 4-part series about ARMA’s 2021 Trends in Information Governance Report. You can read the first two parts by clicking on their respective titles below:

This week, we tackle some of the challenges uncovered by ARMA’s second annual IG Maturity Index Survey Report and make some recommendations on how you can best overcome them.

Challenge #1: Your Organization is Afflicted with S.O.S. (Shiny Object Syndrome)

Investing in a whole bunch of technology or software is not a solution in and of itself.

While it would be nice to be able to solve problems holistically that way, every piece of tech or line of code was created to solve a specific problem and your organization must first understand which portions of the issue will be solved by the technology and which may be left out and need to be addressed another way. You must also understand who will manage the technology and the project to tackle the remaining challenges.

Improvement and lasting changes start with a distinct understanding of what your business goals are.

For instance, if you find that your problem stems from the fact that you still have paper-intensive processes existing alongside digital ones, and you want to move towards a digital-first model, then there are key considerations for your ongoing digital transformation that you’ll need to keep in mind.

Organizations that invest in the latest, cutting-edge technology before doing some significant introspection, planning, and understanding of their own needs can end up creating an expensive flywheel of sorts—the new piece of tech or software creates or uncovers a new problem that requires new investment, and so on.

The answer to fixing this and any IG or RIM initiatives, as we’ve written here before, is having a solid plan, broken into phases, with clear goals from the start.

Challenge #2: Your Information Governance Policies Aren’t Written Down or Followed

As we mentioned in our overview of ARMA’s survey, processes were one area that nearly every organization surveyed had struggled with during 2020.

Only 17.4% of survey respondents from ARMA’s survey said they had anything more than the essentials in place.

If your information governance policies are treated more like guidelines than actual rules, be forewarned that that’s a violation or fine waiting to happen.

Grappling with this issue differs from organization to organization, but in our experience with clients who have struggled with this, it usually comes down to some combination of a lack of formal training, leadership buy-in, and follow-through.

Resolving this challenge is easier said than done, but for starters, doing a gap analysis of your current information management policies is a great place to start. From there, establishing repeatable methodologies and processes that can be followed through will make communication and change management easier as you carry lessons learned, forward.

Challenge #3: Your IG Program Exists in a Vacuum

End-to-end information lifecycle capabilities experienced the most substantial drop year-over-year, especially when it came to having more than the essentials in place. Managing information across its lifecycle means being able to get information into the right hands when it’s needed—and protecting it from those who don’t have permissions.

Failing the former situation prevents your teams from doing their jobs efficiently and productively, while the latter puts your organization at risk for a data breach.

The information your organization creates, protects, and manages stretches across your entire organization. Your program should too.

Managing information across the lifecycle means ensuring your program leaves no department behind, including marketing.

This “no stone unturned” thinking should apply for the people involved in managing the program as well. It shouldn’t just be up to the Records Manager or Information Governance Professional. Legal, HR, IT, and other stakeholders should be involved, and a formal steering committee should be established and empowered, if not already in place.

We will see in 2022 whether this drop was driven largely by the COVID-19 pandemic fallout, or whether this is a sign of a larger regression.

In our next blog — the final in this series — we’ll give you the exact questions you should be asking as you look to monitor and improve your information management program.

To access the full survey results, download ARMA’s full 2021 Information Governance Maturity Index Report.

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