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Building a business case for information governance

When companies embark on an eDiscovery solution, there is little need for a discussion on budget because there is a fire that needs to be immediately put out. There is no time to discuss budget, ROI or build a business case. However, Information Governance (IG) is a different story. It’s a long term investment by the organization to get its information in order. An IG program is proactive, needs buy-in from the different stakeholders from the CIO to the GC, and often requires a business case to justify the costs and benefits.

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How do you quantify the costs and benefits of IG? To articulate the ROI and value to the organization, you need to understand the factors driving the costs of unstructured data. There are cost drivers and cost reducers, and by understanding how these fit within your organization can help you understand its business impact on the organization.

Cost Drivers Information Governance Cost Reducers
Outdated, unenforced policies eDiscovery Formal, communicated and enforced policies
Poorly, defined information ownership & governance Disposition Automated classification & organization
Open loop, reactive eDiscovery process Clarification & Organization Defensible deletion & selective content migration
Uncontrolled information repositories Digitization & Automation Data maps
Modernist, paper-focused information rules Storage & Network Infrastructure Proactive, repeatable eDiscovery procedures
Ad-hoc, unstructured business process Information Search, Access, Collaboration Clear corporate governance
Disconnected governance programs Migration Managed & Structured repositories
  Policy Management & Compliance  
  Discovering & Structure Business Process  


Quantified benefits

When quantifying the benefits, keep in mind that there “soft” and “hard” benefits that should be taken into consideration. For example, a “soft” benefit is employee productivity – making it easier for employees to find the right information faster by eliminating duplicate data or deleting legacy data. These types of benefits are harder to quantify in terms of cost savings. However, with a reduction in storage space, you can quickly realize the cost savings. So, there needs to be a model that an organization can agreed on.

As you select IG projects, be sure to select those that have an overall impact for political gain. For example, a project that protect information, migrates unstructured info from one system to another, defensible deletion or scanning of paper documents will quickly show the value of IG. Of course, it always help to have some successes at the beginning.


Getting the buy-in

Buy-in – Getting buy-in for an IG initiative is critical. While IG is an enterprise problem, its benefits and problems live locally. You need to understand the challenges of the local business units and the value that you can provide in order to get their buy-in.

With information governance, all information is seen through the same lens using the same techniques. It is proactive and is built into the culture of the organization, and needs the participation at every level in order to be successful.