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Executive Insight

It’s a very common mistake in the Information Management industry, to use related terms interchangeably. But there are subtle differences between these terms that are very significant. Many companies assume that by implementing Records Management (RM) in their organization, they have effectively solved their Information Governance (IG) or corporate governance problem.

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I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the key similarities and differences between the two terms:

1) Both Information Governance (IG) and Records Management (RM) are business disciplines.
The purpose of information governance is to define all aspects of how information is being managed. The purpose of records management is to manage some of the aspects of that information. Neither discipline can be “sorted” purely by throwing software tools at the problem, but software helps a lot in maintaining consistency and reducing effort.

2) Information Governance is the decision making hub.
Underneath that hub are a number of spoke mechanisms that manage different aspects: Records Management is just one of them; classification, legal holds, privacy & security, archiving, eDiscovery, application decommissioning, storage tiering, location management, etc., are various others.

3) Information Governance has full responsibility for a company’s information.
According to the Corporate Governance and Oversight Council, the information kept under Records Management’s control represents less than 20% of the total information managed by an organization. Information Governance has responsibility for 100% of the company’s information, including the 20% managed by Records Management.

4) Records Management is typically focused on lifecycle management and the protection of unstructured information, mostly documents. Information Governance creates common policies that can apply to both structured and unstructured information.

5) Records Management typically works with a defined and agreed-upon taxonomy and schedule.
Information Governance is perpetually juggling with overlapping policies, laws, cases, security, legal holds, costs and business demands.

6) Information Governance scope includes all information sources:
The Records Management repositories, other ECM repositories that are not Records Management platforms, all the SharePoint instances, live email server(s), email archive(s), shared network drives, personal network drives, PST files, the data archive system, notebook C: drives, cloud drives, detachable storage drives, those servers that came with the last acquisition and nobody quite knows what is on them, Jim’s old desktop, etc.

7) Records Management systems tend to accumulate all the information they manage in a centralized, controlled environment.
Information Governance tools do not have that luxury – they need to allow for information (including physical archives) to be managed in their native environment.

8) Records Management stakeholders are mostly records managers and/or compliance managers.
Information Governance answers to Compliance, Audit, Security, Legal, IT, Finance and Business Operations – a very different audience with often conflicting interests.

Trying to compare Information Governance and Records Management is a bit like trying to compare Central Government (or Federal for my U.S. friends) with a local school’s governing body. Both have something to govern, but one takes direction from the other and this is where the similarity ends. Neither one is a replacement for the other. Essentially, Information Governance and Records Management are two different if overlapping business disciplines and that both must be addressed by a coherent information governance framework.

If you are interested in learning more about Information Governance and the impact it has in our industry, join our upcoming webinar on May 15th where I will be speaking with renowned analyst, Alan Pelz-Sharpe to discuss real life examples of Information Governance and how you can kick-start Information Governance projects at your company. Learn more about the Information Governance webinar and reserve your spot here.

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