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This article appears in the Summer 2018 digital issue of DOCUMENT Strategy. Subscribe.

Information governance is not a rebranding of records management. It is so much more than that. Yet, some information professionals seem to be locked into a terminology debate that’s focused on just one technology used to manage one type of information. While we to talk about whether enterprise content management (ECM) and content services matter, we are overlooking the emerging silos of information inside the enterprise.

Information Governance within Business Processes

The fact is that electronic documents are managed by solutions other than ECM or document management systems (DMS). Today, documents are stored within specific line of business systems, which manage both the data and the documents for a particular business process. Often, these systems support only the minimum requirements for content services. They also ignore even the most standard information governance components, like records management, which are common in ECM systems.

Many enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, contract lifecycle management (CLM), and employee onboarding solutions have no retention, legal hold, or disposition capabilities. The vital business documents in these systems would certainly have retention requirements if they were stored in an ECM or records management solution. Yet, the needs surrounding information governance are ignored in these line of business solutions.

Business-to-business contracts, along with employee documents, are probably the best examples of documents that should be addressed with an information governance policy. So, why do organizations commonly ignore this requirement when choosing systems to manage these types of documents?

Information Governance Is About More than Documents

Information governance grew out of records management, and some still view this term as a simple rebranding mechanism. However, information governance is more than just records management, and it’s also more than just documents. Since information of any type can be a record, it should be addressed with information governance.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has shown us that data needs to be managed within an information governance policy. How we store, share, and dispose of data is a key concept of information governance. As a result, the GDPR has forced organizations to create information governance policies around personal data in the same way that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act required it for emails. Yet, shouldn’t there be information governance policies around all data? What about social media and the Internet of things? An organization needs to govern every piece of information it touches.

Information Governance Must Have an Enterprise View

It’s important to remember that technology is a tool of information governance—not the focus. Your information should be the focus. Information professionals need to address all the sources and types of information that exist in an organization. It doesn’t matter if a contract is stored in an ECM, DMS, or CLM system. What matters is that a contract is an important piece of information and should be governed. By focusing on a particular technology, we can miss a critical collection of information, and that’s not a professional way to look at information.

Marko Sillanpaa is Co-Founder of the blog Big Men On Content and the Founder of BMO Consulting. He has been working in ECM for over 18 years for vendors like Documentum, EMC, Hyland, and SDL Trados and systems integrators like CSC and Accenture. Follow him on Twitter @MSillanpaaBMOC.
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