We all know that information is vital to making sound and timely decisions. How do we govern information (the term information to include data and information) so that it is truly valuable to the organization and not just another case of GIGI (Garbage In, Garbage Out)?
DM Review, May 2008, reports on some research by Accenture that confirms that “high-performing organizations make far better use of information than their peers.”
Information is a strategic enterprise asset. The key to getting better results from information is the effective use of information governance. Information governance includes decision making and management over the full information life cycle, including: information capture, processing, storage, retrieval, and reporting and disposition.
Without information governance, what can happen to corporate information assets and the end users that rely on it?
- Information Hoarding (or Silos)—the information exists in the organization, but people hoard it rather than share information. They treat information as power and currency and they do not readily provide information to others in their organization even if it helps the organization they work for.
- Information Quality NOT (“multiple versions of the truth”)—information quality will suffer if decisions are not made and enforced to ensure authoritative information sources, quality control processing, and adequate security to protect it.
- Information Overload—not managing the way information is rolled up, presented, and reported can result is too much information that cannot be readily processed or understood by those on the receiving end. It’s like the floodgates have been opened or as one of my bosses used to say, “trying to drink from a fire hose.”
- Information Gaps—without proper requirements gathering and planning and provision for systems to meet information needs, users may be left holding the bag, and it’s empty; they won’t have the information they need to support their functional processes and day-to-day decision making needs.
Not having effective information governance is costly for the organization. The target enterprise architecture state for information management is to have the right information to the right people at the right time. Anything less will mean sub-optimized processes, excessive management activity, and poor decision making and that will be costly for the organization—lost sales, dissatisfied customers, compliance lapses, safety and legal issues, publicity snafus, and other mistakes that can even put the enterprise out of business!
According to Accenture’s survey of more than 1000 large companies in the U.S. and UK, information is not being governed very well today:
- “Managers spend more than one quarter of their work week searching for information.
- More than half of what they obtain is of no value.
- Managers accidently use the wrong data more than once a week.
- It is challenging to get different parts of the company to share needed information.”
The good news is that “the majority of CIOs seem ready to act” by employing information governance.
Information, as one of the perspectives of the enterprise architecture, is already governed through the Enterprise Architecture Board (EAB). However, to give more focus to information governance, perhaps we need to establish a separate Information Governance Board (IGB). I see the IGB as a sub-committee of the EAB that provides findings and recommendation to the EAB; the EAB would be the decision authority for governing all the perspectives of the architecture, including: performance, business, information, services, technology, security, and human capital. To better focus and decompose on the various EA perspective areas, perhaps they will all have their own sub-committees (like a Performance Governance Board, Business Governance Board, and so forth) similar to the IGB in the future.