ZyLAB and the Information Governance Initiative webinar: 10 things you can do to get started

ZyLAB is a charter supporter of the Information Governance Initiative and I wrote recently about an excellent webinar in which ZyLAB’s Enterprise Technology Counsel, Mary Mack, interviewed Barclay Blair of the IGI.

The same team now brings us a second webinar which moves the focus from conceptual matters to hard practicalities as is implied by its title Information Governance: 10 things you can do to get started.

Mary Mack makes the point in opening that Barclay Blair does not just talk about IG but helps clients with practical solutions, something which appears from what he says in this webinar.

The whole thing is worth listening to and, instead of stealing their thunder by trying to summarise it, I serve you best by picking out taster points which might encourage you to listen.

  • If clients want to manage information better, this may be either because they are driven by external factors such as regulatory requirements or because they want to be a better business.
  • Discovery is like a fire – no one asks whether budget is coming from because there is no option but to address it; this is not true of information governance.
  • When eDiscovery was young, people who had other jobs stepped up to fill the eDiscovery roles and became part of the eDiscovery team.
  • We need rules, we need people, we need technology.
  • The company needs to decide what we are going to do first, second and third.
  • Defensible deletion is often picked on as a good place to start because the consequences of redundant data are expensive, time-consuming and problematic. Defensible deletion, however, usually triggers caution from the lawyers, who want to know who created the data, and whether it is on legal hold or on a retention schedule. Because companies have no clear policies, the apparently straightforward deletion objective falls quickly into complexity.
  • Organisations cannot act on problems. They can only act on projects; a project has a timescale, a budget and resources.
  • In articulating return on investment value of any given activities, one should take account of “soft” gains as well as hard measurable ones. ROI is often more a political point than an economic one.
  • One must have regard to what is do-able – ask not only whether it can drive down costs and make people’s lives better but whether the proposals work at a department departmental and workgroup level. One must take account of what business units care about.

The most important points, to me, came at the beginning and at the end. Barclay Blair’s starting proposition was that organisations need a new breed of person whose skills and interests range across all the components of a company’s information use – security, discovery, compliance, business intelligence, privacy, risk management and the rest. Where are we going to find these people?

The closing point concerned the articulation of success. Barclay Blair expressed this in two ways; one was to urge that the story be told in human terms – how has a project made someone’s day better? His second suggestion was to bin woolly, meaningless expressions in favour of ones with actual meaning.

A claim that “IG helped our company manages information better.” is pretty meaningless. One which reads:

IG helped our project managers to close construction projects faster so completion funds are released 12 to 18 months earlier

…is one with demonstrable value attached to it.

Similarly, the statement that “IG helped us to comply with laws and regulations for our information” conveys rather less than:

IG helped our clinical trials managers reduce errors and produce better data, reducing time to market.

Those who would urge information governance upon their organisations need, therefore, to start by identifying demonstrable targets of this kind. The “people, process and technology” mantra, however important, is servant to the objectives.

ZyLAB’s Mary Mack knows a thing or two about the application of technology to solving business problems and is, as always, an informed moderator for this useful, interesting and practical guide. If you want to understand where to start an IG project, this webinar is a very good starting-point.

About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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