8 Information Governance Principles to Follow

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Written By Haisam Abdel Malak

About: Haissam is a digital software product manager with 15 years of expertise in developing enterprise content management solutions. His core capabilities encompass digital transformation, document management, records management, business process automation, and collaboration.

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In today’s data-driven world, where information is considered the most valuable business asset, implementing robust information governance principles has become fundamental. Many enterprises are failing to realize that if information is left unmanaged, it will become a source of risk and that is why information governance (IG) should be invested in.

The information governance principles are obtaining support to drive compliance, defining clear policies and frameworks, ensuring information integrity, protect and secure information, planning for retention and disposal, ensuring information accessibility, and adhering to high information quality standards.

Understanding the principles of information governance within the workplace can have a huge impact on the crafting the perfect IG plan that will include some of the most common guidelines that will help running a smooth implementation.

Without further ado, let’s get started detailing these foundations.

The Eight Core Information Governance Principles

IG outlines how important and sensitive information used within your organization is managed and handled efficiently. In many industries such as health and finance, businesses need to find the right balance between usability and accessibility of information (i.e., patients’ data, biometrics) in correlation with security.

If you are employed within an organization and anticipate being involved in the handling of sensitive personal data, it is crucial to begin by familiarizing yourself with the established policies and principles that ensure data confidentiality, security, and appropriate information usage. Typically, organizations appoint a designated senior individual who bears the responsibility for overseeing these matters.

1- Obtaining support to drive compliance

Being compliant with industry standards and regulations is crucial for maintaining the privacy of your most sensitive data. By obtaining support from stakeholders, such as senior management and key decision-makers, organizations can establish a culture of compliance throughout the entire workforce.

Having such a supportive working environment will help your employees being more aware about the importance of IG within the organization and feeling ownership and responsibility to manage the usage and distribution of sensitive information properly.

Being compliant requires lots of efforts, time, and human resources that will actively implement and review current IG frameworks and put them under tests to make sure that no breaches are happening, and the unification of policies, procedures, and technologies are working hand in hand to protect data effectively.

2- Define clear policies and frameworks

Defining clear policies and frameworks is a critical information governance principle for several compelling reasons.

Defining clear policies will ensure that employees working with sensitive information understand their responsibilities and accountability to securely handle the usage and distribution. They will act as a foundation and reference for these employees to consistently check for updated rules.

In addition, they provide guidance on data classification, and access controls that will enable organization to navigate complex regulatory requirements. They also promote transparency and accountability, allowing stakeholders to assess and monitor compliance efforts.

Make sure to always follow the latest IG trends in order to keep these documentations updated

3- Ensure information integrity

Ensuring information integrity is a vital aspect of the information governance principles since information is only valuable if it is accurate, authentic, and reliable. This principle emphasizes consistency of information creation, distribution, and tracking processes. By prioritizing information integrity, organizations can maintain the trustworthiness of their data and make informed decisions based on reliable information.

The effort required heavily relies on eliminating ROT (redundant, outdated, and trivial information), as well as document audit trails. In legal processes, document audit trails will help to demonstrate a document’s history and movement and help prevent against allegations that it has been changed, tampered with, or deleted.

4- Protect and secure information

Sensitive information should be handled with extreme care as a single data breach nowadays can make your customers lose trust within your brand. Organizations need to train employees who’s in contact with sensitive data on how to use, access, and share them in a way that will ensure privacy.

In addition, these employees need to be responsible and accountable to their critical role in safeguarding sensitive data from unauthorized access, breaches, and misuse. Organizations must establish robust security measures to prevent unauthorized disclosure, alteration, or destruction of information.

This is usually handled by implementing robust access controls, encryption, and authentication mechanisms to ensure that only authorized personnel can access and modify data.

5- Plan for retention and disposal

Planning for disposal is a crucial information governance principle that holds significant value for organizations. Properly managing the lifecycle of information includes defining clear guidelines for how long data should be retained and when it should be securely disposed of.

In this age where strict rules and regulations are being introduced to protect user information and how organizations should be using them, you need to create and implement a clear disposal plan that will guarantee no information are being kept for longer than required and information that are still needed for the business operations are stored properly.

6- Ensure information accessibility

Information is not valuable if the requester won’t be able to access it when needed. However, ensuring accessibility is not a simple task. It requires investment in hardware, software, and skilled human resources to guarantee that information is available always for the requesters without jeopardizing privacy, security, and availability.

Overall, organizations should maintain information in a manner that ensures timely, accurate, and efficient retrieval.

7- Adhere to high quality

One of the most important information governance principles is making sure that the collected and stored information is of high quality. Remember, the aim of all the hectic work to store and properly manage data is to allow the higher management to drive more informed business decisions.

If collected information is of low quality, the business decisions outcome will be negatively impacted thus your business operations will suffer. That is why one of the most important tasks for your employees is to make sure that only high-quality information is being available to help them drive better results.

8- Continuous improvement

IG programs are not something you can just set and forget. Regular monitoring and review are necessary for the program to succeed. Finding any potential holes or weaknesses should be rather simple from this.

Changes in the business environment, the way technology is used, or business strategy frequently occur as organizations develop and grow, and these changes can have an impact on this initiative. Obtain opinions and suggestions from staff members across business units at different levels.

Always remember, the best feedback and improvements requests will come from those who deal on a daily basis with sensitive data, so listen carefully to their feedback.

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