Target. Yahoo. LinkedIn. Anthem. eBay. Sony. Home Depot.

The headlines are hard to ignore—companies from every industry are experiencing data breaches at an alarming rate, and it’s making consumers think twice about who they trust with their personal information. These headlines should also reinforce the importance of information governance (IG) to businesses.

In Part One of our blog, we discussed why businesses must invest in IG before they start trending on social media for all the wrong reasons. Business is competitive enough without adding a hit to your reputation. Would you rather hand over sensitive information to “Company A” that hasn’t had a data breach or “Company B” who is reeling from the effects of a hack?

Of course, when implementing a successful IG strategy, organizations may face several challenges, including:

  • An “It’s Not a Problem Here” mindset from leadership and team members throughout the company.
  • Too much data to effectively manage and secure.
  • High costs associated with data management and enforcing an IG policy.
  • Increasing and ever-changing regulations that are difficult to keep up with, leading to noncompliance.

However, the benefits of IG far outweigh the challenges. Governance is top-down and answers, “what needs to happen.” It sets organizational goals, direction, limitations and, when implemented strategically, it even offers solutions to problems that haven’t happened yet.

Overcome IG Challenges in 4 Simple Steps

1. Plan

Plan before you do anything. Think through what requirements are right for your business today and which ones you might want to consider in the future. Know the compliance landscape that applies to your business, accounting for HR compliance as well as financial and other regulatory requirements. Understand what you need a solution to do. With that framework, you can evaluate potential providers, their approach and architecture, and how they address the specific issues you are looking to have resolved. Plan for testing and QA, and for spending time configuring it to give you optimal outcomes.

Training your employees is critical, but it is often overlooked and under-resourced. If you train your team well, educate them and make it easy for them, your chances of buy-in and effective use of your IG processes and technology will skyrocket.

2. Know Your Information

Before you can enforce an IG policy, you must know what types of information your organization creates, processes, stores and destroys. Where and how your information is managed will vary depending on the type of document, and an effective records and information management (RIM) plan can help you organize your information into the appropriate retention buckets. For instance, privacy requirements may impose minimum or maximum retention periods, short response time frames and granular data types. The better organized the data is, the less repeat work has to be performed, and the more value can be gained from data at every point in the lifecycle.

Of course, organizations must also consider the destruction/deletion of information when planning for information governance. With data breaches and cyber threats on the rise, the information that organizations create can become vulnerable whether it is active or inactive, on-site or in the cloud. Expired records and outdated information cannot be left unprotected, and organizations must look for an IG solution that helps guide and enforce timely, defensible destruction.

3. Reduce Costs

Having a clear information policy allows an organization to save money by being more discerning in what data is stored in what media and for how long. An effective IG program is the key to reducing both the cost and risk of discovery because, when the time comes, your organization will be able to retain the correct data for the correct time period. A RIM partner can play a strategic role here, as they will already understand the systems in place and can help with the seamless integration of tools to securely manage your information.

4. Practice Compliance

Build a culture of compliance. In today’s litigious and heavily regulated environment, organizations face challenges enforcing increasingly complex records management policies. All digital documents and physical records that are created throughout an organization must be properly managed, regardless of where they are stored. Businesses need a solution that will help them comply with prevailing laws and regulations, mitigate their risk of noncompliance and increase their operational efficiency through business process automation and timely, defensible disposal of expired records.

Minimize Risk and Ensure IG with Access

Whether your organization is just beginning to realize the necessity of an IG strategy or you’re looking to enhance your current policy, Access offers a powerful solution to access, protect and defensibly control both your physical and digital documents: FileBRIDGE® Governance.

When it comes to protecting your vital business information, a proactive approach to IG and records management is the best solution. Learn more about how Access can help today!