The following is a guest post by Nicole Lindenbaum from RSD.

With the explosion of information, multiple systems, social media, BYOD, and growth in collaborative tools (e.g. SharePoint), the job of a Records Manager is no longer simple. The entire lifecycle of a record must be taken into account, and it must be governed across multiple jurisdictions and repositories. Records Managers are leading the way to more robust information governance programs. Information governance goes beyond records management; it touches IT, legal, compliance, and business lines.

Many Records Managers I speak with are frustrated. They very clearly see the need for information governance, but often they struggle to get a program started within their organization because no one else is listening. Executives are busy, IT has other priorities, and often IG gets pushed aside for other projects because the organization hasn’t recognized the value – until it is too late.

Records Managers must not only promote information governance initiatives, but must also be able to elevate the conversation to a level that touches the entire organization. Taking a look at several RSD customers that have seen success, I found some common themes that might help a Records Manager to advance the IG conversation within an organization.

1. The Executive Champion
I don’t want to be so extreme as to say that an information governance program will fail without an executive champion… BUT it is rare to see a successful information governance program that doesn’t have an executive helping to push it through. The executive can bring information governance to the corporate agenda, and can help you make a case for the budget allocation to get a program going.

Like anything, this is easier said than done. Executives aren’t sitting around with tons of time on their hands, waiting for you to come drop another project in their lap. You can start with identifying the individuals who will benefit most from information governance. Ask for short introductory meetings to inform them about the importance of information governance to the organization – and the benefits to them personally! From there, you should be able to find at least one or two people who really get it – they will become your champion. You can always start a step below the executive level too. This person will likely have a closer relationship with executives, and once they are on board, you can go together to make the case to someone higher up.

2. Talk to Everyone, and Often
Just because you have an executive champion doesn’t mean your work will be done for you. Often, you must educate your champion on information governance – the benefits, the risks, the value. But don’t forget the other people you have met with along the way. IG will quickly be forgotten if you don’t remind people about it. You will need buy-in from multiple departments, so don’t forget to keep feeding them relevant information and reminders along the way.

3. Build a Business Case
As your information governance program starts to gain traction, you’ll have to help your champion by finding resources that make the argument for IG at your organization. You will want to begin to build a business case for it, outlining the benefits information governance will bring to your organization.

Bring some hard numbers to the cost savings you will see by implementing IG. (RSD has a great whitepaper that discusses many of these savings.) You’ll want to outline the legal implications, perhaps by highlighting a few litigation cases that are relevant. (Think Apple v. Samsung, a $2.5B case.) You’ll also want to modify things slightly depending on your audience. What you emphasize should address the best interests of the person you are speaking to.

4. Make a Plan
An information governance program will cost money in order to save more money. Once you have determined this cost, suggest the resources that will make this program feasible. Outline the cost savings you identified in the previous step. Determine who in the organization will be able to implement and maintain the program. The more you help your executives by anticipating obstacles, the more likely they are to listen to you.

5. Don’t Forget the End-Users
Any project that impacts the business negatively will likely be killed immediately. Therefore, you must get buy-in from your business users as well. Understand how your information governance might impact them, and make this as painless as possible. (Executives will want to know that you have considered this as well.) Educate your end-users in advance about the value of information governance for your organization so that they are not shocked when you begin to implement a program. You need their buy-in as much as anyone’s.

What do you think? Have you seen success with any of these steps? Are there crucial elements that I am missing? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Nicole Lindenbaum is a Marketing Specialist at RSD, where she promotes the benefits of information governance platforms. RSD is the leading provider of information governance solutions for the enterprise, helping companies to reduce operating costs and risk exposure through robust information governance programs. Nicole holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University and a Master of Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis.

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