Keeping Information Governance Simple (CHANGE) - Part 3

C - Control Change

This is the final installment of my three part blog series "Keeping Information Governance Simple", developing a program that "Really" works. The first two parts focused on ASSESSING and BUILDING your program. The final step is CONTROLLING change.

Life is full of adjustments. People go to college, get married, switch jobs, have children, etc. Information Governance is no different. Even though organizations will spend much time in the assessment and build stage, they must also control change. In fact, if you don’t all the efforts spent building your program will go to waste.

3 Changes that affect Information Governance

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS - This can either refer to actual companies or people. In any case these mergers and/or acquisitions create a governance nightmare.

Take for example, a law firm, an acquisition occurs when one law firm hires multiple partners from another, smaller firm. An acquisition can consist of two partners with one or more associates, a practice group, a branch office of a law firm, or an entire firm.

A merger situation differs from an acquisition in that a merger usually involves two law firms of roughly equal size and reputation that come together to create a new entity. Both firms must work together to develop methodologies and processes to accomplish the following tasks:

  • Exporting conflicts information from one firm's system for search and review by the other firm's system
  • tracking the review and resolution of conflict results
  • exporting related parties from one firm's conflict system to the other firm's system
  • exporting client/matter data from one system to the other
  • converting one firm's electronic records to the other firm's document management and e-mail systems
  • converting one firm's files into the other firm's records management system

This is just one example. Yes, mergers and acquisitions cause a ton of information to flow in and out of organizations. All of that information must be dealt with in a timely manner to insure proper governance.

TECHNOLOGY - It seems like every year a new technology is released, designed to help organizations manage information better. Maybe, maybe not? The truth of the matter is that changes in technology can either help organization or damage one. Much depends on how well your organization understands how the technology works and how the technology can be applied and used in your organization. Let's take a look at a few examples...

  1. Predictive Coding - What if you were searching a collection of documents, looking for a single maintenance record that confirmed reasonable due diligence vs negligence in a failed mechanical system? In this case, technology assisted review (TAR) could enable a reviewer to code or identify a random sample of documents as relevant, non-relevant or privileged and define relationships to weed out the insignificant documents. The predictive coding system would analyze the remaining document and determine which documents are responsive or fit in the defined categories based on past experience. This type of technology can help an organization make sense of their unstructured data, cleaning up shared drives, hard drives SharePoint, PST, etc.
  2. Big Data - Think back to our law firm example. Law firms are primarily in a knowledge business. Imaging being able to characterize and classify vast unstructured data stores that one required human eyes to sort and tag effectively. Classifying data could lead directly to reduction in data volumes and firms only storing relevant information and discarding the rest. Big Data reduces risk, allowing firms to more reliably find relevant information in response to a client request or a legal hold. Less Data + Better Classified = Means less information to manage.
  3. Cloud - This type of platform allows organization to be connected and productive all the time. That is a good thing! Cloud has been around a while, we just didn't realize how to use it or how not to use it. How many people have Box, Google Drive, Drop Box, etc. ? Probably everyone who is reading this post. Does your organization have documented processes in place, which outlines how to deal with cloud environments? Hopefully you do, if not, you better create one now. Cloud technology can either make your life easier or make it very difficult.

The reality is this...There's no piece of hardware or software that organizations can put in place that's going to solve all your governance issues. It's truly a combination of people with the right knowledge, skills, training and the right methodology.

LAWS & REGULATIONS - Like technology, laws and regulations are changing all the time. It's important to stay abreast of which ones affect your organization. Although compliance requirements will vary from industry to industry, one regulation that will affect all organizations is the proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This proposed amendment deals with preserving data in the digital age and many other governance related issues. Rather than explaining this, I'd encourage you to read Jason R. Baron's, Co-Chair of the IG Initiative's response HERE.

Mergers & Acquisitions, Technology and Laws & Regulations are only three of many changes that need to be controlled in order to keep your governance initiative moving forward. Just like your car requires regular maintenance to keep running and not breakdown, your governance initiative requires the same TLC.

What changes are affecting your governance initiative? Whether you are a practitioner, consultant, solution provider or someone else, I'd love to hear your experiences, Please let me know in the Comments section below.

Follow me on Twitter: @jimerrifield

References: Records Management in the Legal Environment - A Handbook of Practice and Procedure; Emerging Trends in Law Firm Information Governance - Iron Mountain.

*Originally Posted on Linkedin