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Business Data and Information Governance are a crucial tandem for the modern organization, but each successful company has their own way of identifying meaningful data, while parsing out the clutter. In a broadcast by National Public Radio, a major West Coast University Medical Center discussed its discontinued use of data analytics for patient care decisions due to inconsistencies in the information sources.  Using faulty data had life and death consequences, so the Medical Center reverted back to round-table discussions of specific patients’ care.

Clearly, there is a competitive advantage with authentic, reliable data in decision making.  The question: “How do I ensure that the data is in fact authentic and reliable so that good decisions can be made?” In the May 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review, when data warehousing became a business survival tool, it was reported that companies in the top third of their industry who used data-driven decision making were, on average, 5% more productive and 6% more profitable than their competitors. This hasn’t really changed since the article was written seven years ago. These companies controlled their data collection and avoided “garbage in, garbage out” through implementing information governance tools as inherent to their systems of records, not as afterthought bolt-ons. Information governance is a standard business practice, not a policy brought out when an audit is happening!

In 2017, the Economist published a story titled “The World’s Most Valuable Resource is no Longer Oil, but Data.” This hasn’t changed much either in the last five years. Consequently, organizations who effectively manage their data are generally more profitable, while those who struggle to harness their data have to pay the consequences. Just as big oil was unregulated in the early 20th century, some of these companies (Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.) have used data as the engine to drive them to record profits. The bottom line is investing in records management and information governance can illuminate important data that drives business decisions. The signs have been there for more than a decade, but the evidence is now overwhelming.

 

Information Governance

What is your policy on records and information management?  Does it clearly state that business records and information are business assets to be managed throughout their lifecycles?  Does it say “shall” and not “should?” Is the phrase or concept of “common sense” anywhere to be found? Here’s an important list of questions you should be asking about your records management and information governance to see if you are truly gaining insights from your data.

  1. Is there a Content or Records Management software application in place to manage information?
  2. Are employees using SharePoint/Box/Teams/Email/shared drives or Google Drive to store company documents?
  3. Do your employees understand how to save the documents and records they create or receive on behalf of the company so that someone else can retrieve them?
  4. Did you know that the death of an employee is not only a personal disaster, but a business disaster if the only copy of a document is in a password protected drive which no one alive can access?
  5. Are there controls in place for data entry so that everyone is entering information into your databases the same way, every time?
  6. Are controls in place so that a disgruntled employee can’t change “except” to “accept” in a document?
  7. Is there a glossary of terms?
  8. How is the content of the data validated?
  9. Are addresses validated against the USPS mail address database?
  10. Is there another system of record that data can be pulled from for validation?
  11. When was the last time you looked at and cleansed your data?  This is asked early on when entering into a business process improvement (whether automation transactional documents or providing business analytics capability to managers and supervisors) as it has the biggest impact on the length of the project and its eventual success.  Example: MLK, ML King, Martin Luther were all used in an address field for the same stretch of road.

 

Want to talk to an expert? Western Integrated Systems’ Cheryl Young has been immersed in the records management and information governance industry for more than 35 years. She can lend her expertise to create a roadmap for your organization to better harness business data, while improving your existing records management and information governance practices. Contact us today to get the conversation started!