The importance of a sustainable Information Governance Program for organizations who are entrusted by their customers to maintain and protect their confidential legal information is already recognized by OBS’ law organization customers.
A key challenge faced by most of these organizations today is maintaining the integrity of their customer or employee records, while keeping pace with customer or employee demand and increased regulatory requirements in managing these records. Digital technology brings greater opportunity for revenue; it also exploits an organization’s vulnerability when key processes remain analog or fractured with multiple data entry requirements.
The Current Landscape
Today, organizations are faced with an analog records infrastructure that increases its exposure to liability, accountability, competitive pressure, cost, and operational stalls. The introduction of electronic Information Governance, in 1985, reached partway to a digital environment but was often stalled due to a lack of resources. Today, organizations use individual wrap color coding labels on pockets and folders, print emails on single-sided paper for filing into hard copy files and, as time permits, manually input file information and current location into the records program. File information is also input into a case-matter management program in a separate procedure, resulting in discrepancies in the two databases. OBS’ focus with our law organization customers is to find points of integration which reduce the manual effort required to maintain customer or employee information and resulting records, whether analog or digital.
The most common primary databases in a organization are in the ERP and in the LDAP or ActiveX directory. By integrating the Content Management System with these databases, creating drop down menus from standard naming conventions for file and document types, status, location and retention codes, we reduce the amount of keystroking to a minimum. When a new customer or employee is received at the organization, the onboarding application kicks off the creation of a main file in the document management system; depending upon the organization preference, workflows can be created as well, specific to the hiring department and to IT.
This improves efficiency in a number of ways:
- Files can be created with 6 clicks instead of (on average) 200
- Standard naming conventions improve search results.1 Relevant records aren’t missed because of spelling errors or personal abbreviations.
- Retention codes keep relevant information easily accessible; older, less valuable information can be archived or destroyed, depending on the business need.
- Selecting from drop down menus in standard fields improves compliance with filling in the data as well as improving the accuracy of the data.
- Information is consistent from one application to another, which makes training easier of new employees.
- Proactive processes result in fewer errors or missed information than reactivity to last minute, rushed requests.
Keys to Success
The success of any integration effort requires a Business Plan that outlines the overall objective with description of a Model Office, a very specific Statement of Work, with pivot fields identified and defined between relevant applications, updates between applications scheduled, acceptance criteria defined and a detailed timeline with roles and responsibilities also well defined. Change management in accepting the new system and resulting “how to” encompasses education (the why), communication, training and reference instructions are critical to success.
That being said, this process isn’t always a smooth one. Any change is often met with hesitation. Something Machiavelli understood when speaking of change in “The Prince.”
“There is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful in its success, than to setup as a leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new.”
Sound daunting? We’re here to help.
Western Integrated Systems has dedicated Information Governance professionals with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. If these challenges resonate with your organization, contact us and our team will help you create a roadmap for success that can translate to improved efficiency across the board.
Sources: (1) Earley & Associates: “Business Case for Taxonomy”