Information Governance vs. Records Management

Records Management has been around since the 80’s and 90’s, the dawn of the tech boom.

Physical records were king and office after office flooded through with records that needed to be organized and controlled. Records Managers were then heralded in to create structure out of records chaos.

Now, 20-30 years into the future and records are taking on a new form. There have been heated debates and predictions in the hopes of going paperless, yet physical records are still here. However, physical records are no longer the top dog and physical record accumulation has decreased.

What we define as a record has disproportionately shifted to include digital records that encompass and are not limited to emails, electronic documents, and digital photos. Records Managers are now in charge of more than ever before as electronic records compile exponentially faster than the physical records of the past.

Records Management Lifecycle Flow Chart

Records Management Lifecycle Flow Chart

Records Management involves the implementation of a process or system for directing and controlling an organization’s information (records). However, records management is not information governance.

Information Governance (IG) is a new tech term that has popularized within the last 10 years. It existed in forms prior to its title but it wasn’t studied and explored in the way that it is now, since information has transformed. You can think of it similar to how Google came to us first, but its parent Alphabet now guides it. Thus, Records Management came to us first, but now Information Governance guides it and many other IG stakeholders, at that.

So what is Information Governance and how is it different from Records Management?

IG is the strategy or framework for controlling information (records) in a way which encourages compliance, mitigates legal risks, and aligns to corporate governance policies. All IG stakeholders are then guided by this framework.

Consider these key stakeholders: Records Management, Information Technology, Information Security, Risk Management, Compliance, Legal, Data Science, Archival Administration, and Business Units.

For the next time it gets confusing when thinking about Records Management and Information Governance, just remember that governance is as the word implies, a governing body in which all information resides within. Governance deals with less of the day to day actions and more with the broader understanding of how to organize and manage information in protected and secure methods. Best practices within Information (records) Management would be to align your stakeholders to an IG framework or strategy that works to solve greater concerns within the organization.  A strong and comprehensive IG strategy for your organization will allow for a more organized and stress free Records Manager. Records Manager rejoice! What you’ve been looking for all along, to help take some of the load off, is here in the form of Information Governance.