There’s an element of your information governance framework that is probably not high on your list of immediate priorities, but acts as a major pillar of your entire IG strategy: information processes.
From the policies and procedures that outline how your company complies with regulations, to internal mandates for who owns information and how it moves and is made accessible within the enterprise, information processes play a key role in supporting and bolstering a strong IG strategy.
As more decisions are made using data and content that flow throughout the organisation, it becomes increasingly important that all information used in any decision process is trustworthy and reliable. Agility in decision making is dependent upon the right information, at the right time, in the right form. And companies who neglect this critical aspect of information governance may find their entire IG strategy — and their bottom line — at risk.
The role of information processes in IG
To understand how information processes support your IG framework, let’s take a look at the areas where information governance plays a key role in your business, and how information processes contributes to each of these areas.
The first aspect of information governance to consider is how you manage the transfer of information throughout your business, what is sometimes called the “information lifecycle.” This includes every step of the process, from capture — the creation and input of information — to transformation, or the sharing and throughput of information, and finally to its management, output, archival and eventual deletion. Optimising your information processes can help information flow freely between departments, making it easily captured, accessible anywhere, and at any time.
Another area to consider is regulatory compliance. It’s a major component of information governance, and it includes adherence to rules about the security of information. While some responsibility for this is borne by IT, ensuring that stored information remains protected from leak and theft, it doesn’t belong to IT alone. Your information processes can — and must — be designed in such a way to keep information safe— and not just when it’s sitting on servers. Complying with some regulations also includes meeting standards for the retrieval of information, and in this regard, information processes are once again critical.
Finally, let’s consider your company’s major goals. We’ve talked many times before about the relationship between information and better business outcomes, and how always having access to the information you need, whenever you need it, is key to business success today. And your goals extend beyond complying with standards that are externally imposed. Many IG frameworks have strict internal standards for how to use information within your company to achieve its broader goals, such as a more productive workforce and happier customers.
Information processes are at the heart of these standards, which should be outlined in the policies, tools and technology that makes up your IG framework. However, one or more of these areas often fall short according to a Forrester Research, Inc study commissioned by Ricoh — nearly 30 percent of customer-facing workers today feel constrained by older systems that don’t let them deliver the customer experience they’d like to provide. Companies must take a close look at their existing information tools and processes, and diligently look for where they can be updated, improved or even replaced in the name of better efficiency and effectiveness.
There is obviously a great deal of focus in business today on analytics, big data, etc., but without a matching emphasis on information processes, you’re dramatically limiting the value and impact of that information. You need to have the right tools and technology to access and extract your data in an appropriate form, and be able to share it easily with the lines of business that use and make decisions based on it. That is at the very essence of optimized information processes, and how they provide a strong foundation to any IG framework.
Business success through strong processes
Without this foundation, businesses are exposing themselves to serious risk. According to IDC research Ricoh commissioned, more than 75 percent of the 1,500+ global businesses surveyed experienced severe consequences as a direct result of broken information processes — many of them failures in the realm of information governance: noncompliance, major IT breaches, audits and lawsuits.1 While many companies tend not to make investments in security and governance until it becomes clear there is a problem, all it takes is a single breach to throw a company into turmoil. We recently saw an example of this with a law firm that Ricoh was working with. They discovered that a former employee remained in possession of sensitive and proprietary customer information — something that put the company at severe risk of fines, legal action and other measures, should that information get out. Unfortunately, they were only able to discover this after auditing the employee’s email account after he had left the firm.
Thankfully, Ricoh forensic experts were able to conduct a multi-stage, comprehensive search and scrub of the former employee’s electronic accounts and files, including material discovered on his iPhone — an asset the former employee had not disclosed but which Ricoh discovered possessed relevant information — to fully retrieve all sensitive data. But all such data was eventually recovered, and this not only prevented the customer’s information from being disseminated painfully and unlawfully, it resolved the issue without the law firm having to engage in expensive legal action against the former employee.2 While this outcome had a happy ending, it required significant time and manpower—and there was no guarantee of success. Proper information governance and processes can help avoid situations much like this one.
In fact, the ramifications of poor processes even reach the customer.The same Forrester research found that vast majorities of decisionmakers said that lack of information access and poor support for document services served as a limitation on providing effective customer service. In fact, nearly 80% of managers and 90% of customer-facing workers said that there is a gap between the customer experience they can deliver and what the customer wants—to put it another way, 9 in 10 say they don’t have the right tools and processes in place to deliver an effective customer experience.
And the benefits of optimised processes extend all the way to the bottom line. More than 83 percent of respondents to IDC’s survey mentioned above found that optimising processes can increase average revenue by 10%.3 In another survey, IDC found that fixing customer-facing information processes can speed time to market by 13.4%.4
The big picture
For true, comprehensive information governance, companies have to optimise the entire lifecycle of their information, from capture to transformation to management. This includes:
• Analysing workflows to determine how and where information is captured and distributed throughout the organisation.
• Working with your team to design a new information infrastructure
• Implementing rules-based processes to capture and route information as it’s created.
• Converting legacy data into a format that’s easily accessible from any device — particularly smartphones and tablets.
• Upgrading back-end legacy systems to ensure full compatibility and integration across the enterprise.
• Monitoring the enterprise-wide adoption of new business practices against previously defined key performance indicators.
• Driving continuous improvement toward your goals
Performing a thorough assessment, identifying areas of risk and applying the necessary reforms to existing information processes is a challenging task for many businesses, and an experienced vendor in Managed Document Services (MDS) can be an invaluable partner. However, the value of optimising these information processes is clear, both to your information governance framework, and to your bottom line.
1 IDC White Paper sponsored by Ricoh, “It’s Worse than You Think: Poor Information Processes Lead to Significant Business Risk,” June 2012.
2 Ricoh case study: http://www.ricoh-usa.com/industry/legal/docs/pdf/CS-144-RIC%20eDiscovery.pdf
3 IDC, “It’s Worse Than You Think,” 2012.
4 IDC White Paper sponsored by Ricoh, “Organizational Blind Spot: The Role of Information – Driven Processes in Driving Top-Line Growth,” September 2012.