Information Management: Ten Things You Should NOT Do In 2010

Happy New Year.  So, we are almost into our second week of 2010 and I am enjoying all the 2010 predictions, resolutions, recommendations, and the ultimate “to do” lists.  In 2010, I am looking forward to continuing my conversations with current and future customers as well as industry pundits regarding the challenge of managing the explosion of information – in formats and volume. 

So instead of another list of predictions or telling you what to do this year, here is what you should not to do in 2010: 

Do not ignore the risk – Controlling risk is fundamental to conducting business and managing information.  Every e-mail we write, document we create, correspondence we send, and voice mail we leave can eventually become a record in a legal case and (ultimately) cost the company a substantial amount of money.  It’s simply impossible to ignore this risk – regardless of organization size, industry, or geographic location.  Measure it, don’t ignore it.    

Do not discount the information governance hype – Sure this is easy for me to say because I am playing my part in creating this hype – but the excitement around information governance is becoming a reality.  Information governance provides a comprehensive framework to manage risk (and pain) related to compliance with laws and regulations regarding the creation, retention and disposition of business records.  As you are reading this, companies are forming committees, budgets, and detailed road maps around information governance.  

Do not complicate retention policies – Keeping everything forever doesn’t seem to work and deleting everything is certainly not an option, so the sensible solution is to define retention policies and hope they get enforced across all applications.   It scares me when I hear a company has thousands of distinct retention policies.  Control the amount of “retention buckets” you have and focus your efforts on ensuring they are centrally managed and enforced. 

Do not rely on search alone – I cringe when I hear people consider search engines as a solution to solve their information management challenges.  Search is certainly one piece of the puzzle, but it’s only a portion of the solution.  What about policy enforcement, Web presentment, data privacy, workflow, collaboration, legal hold, lifecycle management, etc, etc, etc. 

Do not copy the competition – It’s a small world.  Chances are you know someone (who knows someone) among your top competitors.   We all follow each other, hear (and sometimes spread) rumors about each other, and simply go along with what the competitor does.  Although this strategy may work in certain cases, this will not work when undertaking information governance.  The high level goals are the same but each company is unique with different short- and long-term objectives. 

Do not bypass management – I hate to be the messenger, but information governance requires complete support from executive management since it spans across all facets of the organization and the entire IT infrastructure.  In fact, most information governance projects are initiated using the “top down” approach. 

Do not be a sole hero – We all want to be heroes but I guarantee it won’t work in this case.  Computer-woman In fact, the only way to be successful is to build a solid partnership between the business, technical and legal functions.  So, bring lots of donuts to meetings and listen to each other.  The decisions you make as a team regarding business processes, retention policies, security rules, data standards, and regulations will be critical.    

Do not forget about the operational content – In the last couple of years, companies primarily focused on unstructured documents (i.e. MSFT Office) and e-mail.  However, this is only a portion of the information in the enterprise.  What about the ERP/CRM reports, transaction statements, and images?

Do not neglect end-users requirements – Often times, end-users are ignored or pushed to the side.  In 2010, do not neglect requirements from business units and end-users.  They will appreciate being included and so will management. 

Do not buy without trying it first – Before you sign the purchase order, deploy a proof of concept.  I personally like to see things working before making a commitment.  While the solution may sound wonderful on paper (trust me, it always does) – the proof is in the pudding.