As businesses grow, they produce and store more data. With an increase in both physical and digital records, companies open themselves up to security breaches and compliance issues. In 2017, improper disposal of records, misconfigured databases and other unintended security issues caused the exposure of 1.9 billion records worldwide, according to digital security company Gemalto. And the IDC estimates that most companies fail audits because records cannot be found. Trying to locate lost records takes up almost 20 percent of records manager’s time and is almost 30 percent of all leading issues for increased risk. Because of this, it’s important to implement or refine your organization’s records and information management (RIM) and information governance (IG) practices. If you don’t know where to start, hiring a records and information governance consultant with expertise can save your company valuable time and money and mitigate risks with a legally defensible program.

Records and Information Management and Information Governance: You’ll Need Both

Records and information management and information governance are not the same, but one cannot exist without the other.

Information governance is the process by which organizations enforce desirable behavior in the creation, use, archiving and disposition of corporate information. The goal of information governance is ensuring compliance with laws and regulations, mitigating risks and protecting the confidentiality of sensitive company and customer data.

Records and information management deals with how data—both physical and electronic—is stored, managed, protected and destroyed. It includes how your company manages existing data and its storage platforms—from filing cabinets to the cloud.

To operate in today’s content-centric and records-rich environment, you’ll need both records information management and information governance in your toolbox. The journey towards a successful program may seem daunting, but fear not, you don’t have to go it alone. Even some of the largest companies in the world are just starting to focus on implementing these programs and an information governance consultant can assist in strategy and implementation.

Records Management and Information Governance Consultants

The most difficult question is often be ‘where to begin,’ especially when many businesses might not even be aware of the consequences of poor planning; or how organizing and storing data optimally can save your business time and money while improving employee output and increasing overall compliance.

Here are six reasons why your business should connect with a records and information management and information governance consultant.

  1. Avoid audits and fines

Being sub-standard with record keeping can get your business into trouble. For medical organizations, agencies like PIPEDA, DPA and HIPPA require strict security standards. When doing business internationally, your business could run afoul of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

A violation or failed audit might cost your business thousands in fines or legal fees for defense, and can potentially bring your business operations to a halt. Seek an information governance consultant to inform you of these guidelines and regulations before implementing a governance policy to make sure your start AND remain compliant. A simple gap analysis of your current plan and procedures is often the first step

  1. Prevent data breaches

The only thing worse than a fine is a data breach. Having private information fall into the wrong hands in 2017 cost $3.62 million on average, according to a study conducted by Ponemon. Aside from fines and penalties, potential loss of customer trust and other legal ramifications can also come about. If that’s not bad enough, you can also expect your brand to diminish in value by 21 percent following a data breach. Paying for a records management and information governance consultant may seem expensive, but the cost of protection far outweighs the financial implications and the loss of brand trust that can result from a breach.

  1. Keep pace with data production

In today’s digital environment, your business is producing more data and content than ever, and the amount of electronic data is growing exponentially. In 2017, Internet users created 2.5 quintillion bytes per day, and that number is only expected to multiply. By 2025, experts say the digital landscape will grow to 176 zettabytes (that’s 1,000 bytes to the power of seven).

As the sheer output of digital information grows, you need to keep pace to ensure company compliance and to protect your employees and customers. If you don’t get a handle on information governance and records information management now, it will only get more difficult in the future. A records management and information governance consultant can help identify what information is a true “record” and assist with decreasing the amount of data stored and the amount of infrastructure required to manage it.

  1. Go paperless with a trusted partner

Whether you’re in need for a fully digital—or hybrid—solution, proper planning and managing of metadata is key to your success. Once data is scanned and cataloged, your employees can retrieve the information easily through your information governance plan. Embracing a digital cataloging system will save your company time and money. A consultant’s direction will provide a number of positive steps for your business, including the best plan for digitizing paper records. Knowing the right questions to ask will set your company up for success from the start.  

  1. Roll out better departmental communication

Implementing an information governance policy means all employees responsible for your data will know what to do in every situation. Working with a information governance consultant on procedures to address natural disasters, loss of data or mergers and acquisitions ensures accurate communications across departments. From the newest members to company veterans, your workers’ understanding of a uniform data management system guarantees methodical approaches to common setbacks. Communication can also be vastly enhanced with automation as well.

  1. Reduce costs in finding and storing information

It’s the same in any industry—doing things efficiently offsets costs. Furthermore, working with a trusted adviser means creating those efficiencies from the start. A records management and information governance consultant knows how much storage space your business needs, the proper way to store your records, the types of secure destruction procedures to put in place and what sort of digital storage system will work best for your specific industry. Most importantly, the consultant knows the rules and regulatory bodies that govern your organization and can therefore help you build a comprehensive, legally defensible program.

Once these processes are implemented, your business will ultimately run more quickly, efficiently, and most of all, compliantly.

Finding the Right Records Management and Information Governance Consultant

A good, robust records management and information governance consultant should supply the products, services and expertise that help customers design, implement and enforce modern, legally defensible information governance programs

They should also offer services and solutions to assist with building a road map and path to transformational information governance

Expertise with consulting and records retention policies is a must and they should be scalable for any size company or vertical to show versatility and the ability to grow with their customers.

In conclusion, finding the right consultant and partner is a key part of moving to the transformational level of records management that all companies strive to reach. Following the guidelines and suggestions above will start you on your journey towards a successful program. Learn more about information governance best practices in Access’ Total Information Governance webcast

Jen Farnham is an industry leader in information governance and data compliance with over 13 years of experience in client success account management for some of the largest companies and government agencies in California.