How to get your firm’s Information Governance initiative off the ground

Whether it is due to client scrutiny, new regulations (e.g., GDPR), or simply that firms are finally addressing their backlog of physical and electronic records, Mattern is seeing an uptick in firms proactively tackle the need for an effective Information Governance Program.  However, there are many items that need to be considered to get such a program in place.  First and foremost, is there the proper call to action that has the buy-in and executive sponsorship necessary to mobilize the necessary resources?  An IG initiative will require key stakeholders from across the firm:  Management Committee, Administration, Finance & Accounting, HR, IT, Information Security, and representation from the individual practice groups.  This is not an initiative to be taken lightly, or one that can be done in the background with only back-office participation.

Three key considerations firms need to address to successfully deploy such a program:

1. Buy In  Mattern recommends an elevator pitch that stresses the necessity of such an initiative.  While cost savings, best practices, and efficiencies gained can all be talking points, the key factors revolve around risk mitigation and liability.  These are the concerns that will change behavior within a firm.

2. Change Management  Once the necessary level of buy-in is achieved, Information Governance requires the disparate functional areas of the firm to be on the same page.   Often, this is where we see consultants such as Mattern brought in to manage the process and ensure tasks are thoroughly addressed.  Such tasks can include the formation of policy, retention schedules, data mapping exercises, assessment of supporting technology tools and integrations (e.g., email, files shares, Document Management System and Records Management System), document classification nomenclature, electronic and physical workflows, and user training.  A formal change management process is needed to gain the necessary adoption.

3. Informed Execution  For example, the disposition of records remains a major concern for most firms.  Often there is an inability to identify eligibility for electronic records or possessing the proper visibility into document contents.  Aligning the firm’s systems and tactically enforcing compliance in a defensible manner remains key to the success of this initiative.

Mattern has worked with multiple firms in varying states of Information Governance adoption.  IG involves a major change management initiative that impacts all of the firm’s resources.  The proper policy, execution plan, supporting technologies, proper workflow, user adoption, and audits are all necessary for a successful program.  There is no one single or correct approach, but Mattern has assisted multiple firms in getting off the ground, implementing, and continuously monitoring an effective Information Governance program.