By Sharon Hankins,
Client Principal, Healthcare at Clarity Insights, now part of Accenture Applied Intelligence

The dust bunnies are swept, the screens are put in; there’s a hint of lemon scent wafting through the air. Despite the tendency to put off things that we know are best for us, the ritual of spring cleaning serves as a catalyst for a well-run home. Though the depth of cleaning may greatly vary, the warmer weather and longer days are a clear signal to make it a priority. 

Shouldn’t the same be true for an annual review of your data governance strategy?

While records management rarely makes headlines outside of IT circles, it is foundational to digital business nonetheless. The importance of information governance at the broadest level is beginning to catch on from the C-Suite down, but it has been a gradual journey alongside other competing priorities. Perhaps its inherent intricacies are what makes some business leaders averse to dive into the minutia, making it even more important for RIM professionals and their counterparts to make the case known for not only consensus and routine dissemination of policy updates, but for a more strategic overview of information governance to occur in tandem with other initiatives.  

How can teams keep their approach fresh and stay vigilant on the path to greater strategic prominence? Here are some things to consider:

Get involved with innovation. From cloud-based platform adoption to AI/ML, RIM professionals should be involved in conversations from the get-go, but they’re not: according to the Forrester/ARMA International Records Management Survey from Q4 2019, only 18 percent of RIM professionals are involved in their organization’s “exploration of AI and/or ML for automated categorization or classification of documents” (fewer still — only 13 percent — are involved in conversations surrounding chatbots and virtual assistants). Whether through a more formal system of organizational structure, set by team leads, or as a peer-based, proactive nudge to join, each new technology rich with content should be assigned a collaborator who is thinking of short- and long-term data handling

Understand the sprawl. Forty percent of RIM professionals surveyed by Forrester name sprawl as a top challenge for them. But the devil we know is better than the devil we don’t. The issue has remained at the top of the list of challenges for the past five years running: the “volume of unmanaged digital documents” outside of participants’ control.” The solution evades information governance teams in part due to the proliferation of new modes of communication and cloud-based applications that create new, non-essential records each moment. Since short-form content (like text-based message threads) and rogue file sharing systems are a growing part of today’s work reality, given a remote workforce and new peak usage, the time to address discrepancies in rules and long-term storage criteria for content that falls outside of formal business record categories.

Get on the same page with teams outside your specialty. Enterprise architecture teams and business users alike have priorities that enable greater efficiency at the operational level that may at first glance conflict with your storage and retention policies. Since nearly one third of Forrester respondents also listed a “lack of IT, legal, compliance, and business alignment” as a top challenge for their organization, it isn’t unusual for confusion on the matter to complicate definitive guidance at times where updates make sense. Establishing checkpoints with your peers is necessary to make sure the rollout of new technology includes a policy revisit or refresh related to records management. Keep talking points simple, using data to help employees understand the “why” driving your decisions. Repetition is key to behavior change, so expect to remind users of changes at moments when their attention is piqued to give staying power to new expectations.

If you’re looking to make the case for an information governance strategy to carry greater strategic weight at your organization, let’s talk


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