IM Governance

The definition I like most for the term “Governance” is from Wikipedia: “governance relates to consistent management, cohesive policies, processes and decision-rights for a given area of responsibility. For example, managing at a corporate level might involve evolving policies on privacy, on internal investment, and on the use of data.”  I may be slightly biased.

In the IM Model, governance is an encompassing activity.  Governance is required at the program level to legitimize the program and provide a foundation for measuring its impact, however it is also an essential component of every layer in the model.  In fact, once the program documents are produced – the policy instruments, the charter, IM strategy, roadmap, deployment plans  and awareness activities -the majority of work is at the initiative level.  And interestingly enough, the discussions on governance never get easier, regardless of the people around the table.  We always start with the basics and define everyone’s roles and responsibilities; while we struggle with ensuring everyone around the table has the same understanding and are using the same definition for the terms being used.  More often than not, we aren’t, so we end up developing those understandings as we develop the governance.

Being an impatient person I have often found this process frustrating.  I thought it was common sense, but I have come to realize that these discussions on terminology and creating a common understanding are an important step in raising IM awareness and bringing about a culture change.  This step can’t be skipped – it legitimizes IM activities and embeds IM principles into the organization.

Examples of IM governance requirements at the different model layers are:

1. Information Design – retention and disposition schedule approval process.  Changes to this schedule should be approved by the most senior person in the organization.  Ultimately that person is accountable for ensuring that the information in their organization is managed in a transparent and efficient manner, particularly in the face of audits or litigations.

2. Information Architecture – data governance.  Data governance is a framework to address “data quality, data management, data policies, business process management, and risk management surrounding the handling of data in an organization” (Wikipedia). The Data Governance Institute is more specific in their definition “Data Governance is the exercise of decision -making and authority for data-related matters.”  Through data governance, the integrity and trustworthiness of the data can be ensured.

3. IM Tools – Support Model. With any IT tool there are different support models available to choose from, such as ITIL. The common element in each are the predefined roles and responsibilities.  Using a model doesn’t negate the need for discussions between the various parties, but it does provide a scope and boundaries for the discussions that significantly reduces the time it takes to bring everyone up to a consistent understanding of the activities.

This entry completes my explanation of the the model I use.  In future posts I will go into more specific topics such as SharePoint 2010 and Records Management, faceted classification, when does information become a record, search, etc.  Let me know if you have any suggestions as I would love to create a discussion around these topics so that different perspectives can be presented.



I am a strategic information management specialist that brings together knowledge from diversified fields to deliver value driven solutions to meet client's business objectives.
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2 Responses to IM Governance

  1. klymowsky says:

    I totally understand your frustrations on governance. Any tips or strategies on how to get stakeholders to buy in to IA governance would be appreciated. Thanks — this is a great resource.

    • IM4WARD says:

      Thanks for the encouragement.

      My thinking is evolving towards turning the discussions around. What I mean by that is instead of IM saying what has to be done because IM is responsible for ensuring that information is managed, I’m coming at it from the premise that the business lines are responsible for their own information. I can’t dictate to them what they are going to do and expect them to deliver – they have no vested interest. However if I start the discussion off by asking who is responsible for the information, the answer will be them. When I ask if IM has the right to delete their information, the answer is no, if I ask who has the authority to approve or reject a request for access to their information, the answer is the stakeholder. Once all those answers are obtained, my job in IM is to put in place the processes that suppport those answers and make the stakeholders accountable. That’s the best I’ve come up with so far. Hope it helps.

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