Businesses generate 218 bytes of data every day. That’s two quintillion bytes or two exabytes, twice the information content of all the words ever spoken. Automated systems generate most of that data; a human never sees it. But a significant slice of the pie comprises documents and other records generated by day-to-day business operations. 

Amidst all that information are commercial secrets, accounts, financial histories, employee files, customer details, healthcare records, intellectual property, and sensitive personal information—all of which must be stored securely while remaining accessible. 

In addition, much of the information businesses generate is subject to federal and state regulations, including HIPAA, FISMA, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the CCPA. 

Information governance helps businesses overcome information management challenges and use information effectively while complying with regulatory requirements.

What is Information Governance?

Information governance is the strategies, policies, systems, and frameworks that allow organizations to manage information effectively and securely. It ensures data is available to support business operations without compromising legal compliance. Information governance can also reduce the cost of information management while improving organizational efficiency. 

Key components of information governance include:

  • An information governance framework, which describes and provides guidelines to support an organization’s information governance approach.
  • Information governance policies, which are devised by the organization’s leadership and implemented by leaders and workers. Information governance policies may affect IT security, data retention, records storage, and authentication and access control, among other business functions.
  • Roles and responsibilities, which define who is responsible for implementing and enforcing information governance policies. 
  • Information governance systems and software, which help stakeholders to access information while achieving information governance objectives. 

Why Is Information Governance Important?

Businesses generate large amounts of information. Data can be a tremendous asset, but it can also be a liability. Information governance helps organizations extract the maximum value from information while controlling risk and reducing potential liabilities. 

Some of the benefits of information governance include:

  • Making data accessible so businesses can use it to their advantage
  • Improving productivity
  • Reducing the cost of discovery and information retrieval
  • Enhancing compliance and reducing risk
  • Enhancing decision-making capabilities

4 Information Governance Best Practices

We’ve explored what information governance is and why it matters. But many businesses have yet to realize the benefits of information governance fully. Let’s look at four information governance best practices that could help your business better manage its data and documents. 

Document Discovery

Does your business have insight into the information it collects and stores? Do you know where documents are kept and what they contain? How they might be useful or the risks they might pose if disclosed or disposed of improperly? If the answer is no, then a comprehensive information governance audit of your data security and information management is in order. Auditing and assessment are the foundation of effective data governance.  

Risk Management

Once your organization understands its information, the next step is to understand the risk it poses. Millions of sensitive records are leaked every year because organizations don’t store, control access to, or dispose of information in line with best practices. For example, fewer than 15% of executives report that their organizations have conducted a risk assessment to determine appropriate retention periods. That means 85% are exposed to unknown risks of non-compliance.

Risk management is an ongoing process. The regulatory landscape evolves, and many organizations struggle to keep abreast of changes that impact their risk levels. Retention and compliance software helps businesses to comply by tracking requirements and implementing compliant document management processes. 

Information Governance Gap Analysis

As we mentioned previously, information governance relies on many components working together in a coherent system. Flaws in any element may increase risk and lead to information governance failures. Failures may result from inadequate policies, implementations, information storage and management technology, regulatory understanding, and more. 

An information governance gap analysis helps organizations identify shortcomings in their records programs, information management systems, workflows, and governance processes. Following a gap analysis, organizations have the information to remediate deficiencies and improve information governance practices. 

Effective Retention and Disposal Schedules

Effective record retention and disposal are the cornerstones of information governance. Businesses operate under complex retention rules that mandate which information they must retain, how long to retain it, and controls that must be in place during the retention period. Retention schedules are policies that take account of regulatory requirements and define how long information must be kept and how and when it should be disposed of. 

Access’s Integrated Information Management Services help businesses to reduce risk and ensure compliance while facilitating secure information access. To find the right solution for your information governance needs, contact a sales representative today.

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