In today’s digital age, the way organisations manage, protect, and utilise their information assets has become more critical than ever. With an ever-growing amount of data and increasing regulatory requirements, businesses must adopt an effective information governance strategy to remain competitive and compliant. But what exactly is information governance, and why is it so important? Let’s dive in and explore the key principles and benefits of information governance and practical steps to create a robust framework.
- Information Governance is a strategic approach to maximise the value of an organisation’s data and ensure compliance with regulations.
- The Information Governance Reference Model provides organisations with a framework for managing their information assets, while allowing them to increase productivity and maintain regulatory compliance.
- An effective Information Governance Framework involves assessing needs, strategising, implementing data management systems, monitoring & updating the framework & measuring success in order to leverage information asset value & comply with regulations.
Understanding Information Governance
Information governance is a strategic approach to managing, protecting, and utilising information assets within an organisation. It ensures compliance with regulations and enhances decision-making processes. An information governance program encompasses various information governance processes and principles, including:
- Records management
- Data privacy
- Information security
- Data quality management
- Information lifecycle management
Information governance aims to maximise the value of information and enable informed decision-making.
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Key Principles of Information Governance
Accuracy, integrity, security, compliance, availability, and value enhancement form the core principles of information governance. These principles include:
- Accuracy: ensuring that decisions are based on correct and up-to-date information
- Integrity: guaranteeing that information remains unaltered and secure from unauthorised access
- Security: protecting information from unauthorised access
- Compliance: requiring adherence to applicable laws and regulations
- Availability: ensuring that information is accessible when needed
- Value enhancement: allowing information to create value for the organisation.
Organisations can craft and administer a functional information governance strategy that aligns with their business objectives, complies with regulatory requirements, and promotes accountability and transparency by concentrating on generally accepted recordkeeping principles, under the guidance of a chief information governance officer. By doing so, they effectively fulfill their information governance responsibilities.
The difference between information management and information governance
Information management is a component of information governance, concentrating on the organised processing of records, while information governance encompasses a wider range, including privacy, security, and legal mandates. In other words, information management focuses on the systematic handling of records, while information governance addresses the broader scope of managing and protecting information assets throughout their lifecycle.
Appreciating this difference holds significance for organisations while developing and implementing their information governance framework. By incorporating both information management and governance processes, organisations can ensure that their information assets are managed effectively and securely, in compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.
Information Governance Reference Model
The Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM) is a framework that provides guidance for organisations to effectively and compliantly manage their information assets throughout its lifecycle. The IGRM intends to supply organisations with a structure to harmonise their information governance efforts with business objectives and regulatory requirements.
Adoption of the IGRM allows organisations to:
- Boost data quality
- Increase productivity
- Make better decisions
- Maintain regulatory compliance
This allows businesses to effectively address the challenges and opportunities presented by the ever-growing amount of data, enabling them to harness the power of information to drive success.
Why is information governance important?
Organisations rely on information governance for several purposes, including:
- Risk management
- Compliance assurance
- Decision-making enhancement
- Protection of sensitive information
By providing quick and easy access to accurate and up-to-date information, decision-makers can make more informed decisions, ultimately driving better business outcomes.
Moreover, effective information governance helps organisations reduce risks by ensuring the availability of accurate and current information, establishing explicit policies and procedures for managing information, and guaranteeing the protection of information. The benefits of a robust information governance framework extend beyond compliance, leading to improved data quality, increased operational efficiency, and a competitive edge in the marketplace.
The benefits of regulatory compliance
Regulatory compliance refers to the adherence to governing bodies’ laws, regulations, and guidelines. Compliance with regulations enables organisations to mitigate risks, build trust, and assure the secure management of information assets. For example, compliance facilitates risk management by providing a structure for assessing and managing risk, while ensuring that organisations’ operations align with applicable laws and regulations.
Furthermore, regulatory compliance can help organisations foster trust with their customers, employees, and other stakeholders by demonstrating their dedication to safeguarding their data and information assets. This commitment to ethical and responsible business practices enhances the organisation’s reputation and strengthens its position within the market.
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Information Governance Maturity Model
The Information Governance Maturity Model is a tool utilised to assess the maturity and effectiveness of an organisation’s information governance practices. It assists leaders in evaluating their current state and pinpointing areas that require improvement in managing and capitalising on information assets. Recognising gaps and potential improvements, organisations can initiate targeted efforts to fortify their information governance framework.
The advantages of employing the Information Governance Maturity Model include:
- Enhanced data quality
- Improved decision-making
- Heightened efficiency
- Decreased risk
By regularly evaluating and refining their information governance practices, organisations can better manage their information assets, ensure compliance with regulations, and drive business success.
Information Lifecycle Management and Electronic Discovery
Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) and Electronic Discovery (eDiscovery) are essential components of information governance, ensuring the proper handling, storage, and disposal of information throughout its lifecycle. ILM is a component of information governance that assists organisations in managing the flow of information from creation to usage or release into the public domain.
eDiscovery, on the other hand, is the process of gathering, protecting, and evaluating electronically stored information (ESI) for use in legal proceedings. Together, ILM and eDiscovery support organisations in their efforts to effectively manage and protect sensitive information, comply with regulatory requirements, and navigate the complexities of the digital landscape.
Incorporating these components within their information governance framework permits organisations to manage their information assets appropriately, mitigate risks, and improve decision-making capabilities.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Business continuity refers to an organisation’s capability to maintain its operations and provide products or services at standard levels during and following a disruptive event, such as a natural disaster or cyber-attack. Disaster recovery, on the other hand, focuses on the recovery and restoration of critical functions and systems after a disruptive event. Both business continuity and disaster recovery planning aim to minimise the impact of disruptions and ensure the organisation’s durability.
Formulating and executing extensive business continuity and disaster recovery plans equips organisations to:
- Sustain operations during a disaster or disruption
- Shield information assets
- Reduce the effects of disruptions
- Guarantee the organisation’s resilience
- Minimise the risk of data loss
These plans aid organisations in ensuring their ability to continue operations and protect their information assets.
In an increasingly digital and interconnected world, effective business continuity and disaster recovery planning are vital to safeguard crucial information assets and ensure long-term success.
5 key steps for an effective Information Governance Framework
An effective Information Governance Framework involves assessing needs, developing a strategy, implementing data management systems, monitoring and updating the framework, and measuring success.
Implementing these five pivotal steps enables organisations to:
- Establish a resilient and flexible framework
- Leverage the value of their information assets
- Comply with regulations
- Bolster informed decision-making.
Assessing your Information Governance needs
Identifying the types of information assets within your organisation and understanding the associated risks and regulatory requirements is the first step in assessing your Information Governance needs. Conducting an inventory of your data and systems, including:
- the type of data
- location of storage
- authorised personnel with access
- purpose of use
Knowledge management can provide valuable insights into your organisation’s information landscape, including handling personal confidential data.
Organisations can plan targeted initiatives to address specific needs and challenges by comprehending the different types of information assets along with their related risks and regulatory requirements. This assessment process lays the foundation for an effective Information Governance Framework that aligns with your organisation’s objectives and regulatory environment.
Developing an Information Governance strategy
With a clear understanding of your organisation’s information governance needs, the next step is to develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses these needs and supports your business objectives. This involves setting goals, defining roles and responsibilities, and establishing policies and procedures to manage information assets effectively.
An effective Information Governance strategy should also consider the organisation’s risk profile, legal and regulatory requirements, and industry best practices. Aligning your strategy with these factors enables the creation of a robust and flexible framework that assures proper handling, protection, and utilisation of your organisation’s information assets.
Implementing effective data management systems
Implementing effective data management systems is crucial to ensure the proper storage, protection, and accessibility of information assets. An effective data management system requires components such as:
- Data collection
- Data storage
- Data analysis
- Data security
- Data privacy
- Data governance
Implementation of effective data management systems allows organisations to:
- Mitigate errors
- Improve data quality
- Enable better decision-making
- Comply with security and privacy regulations
This plays a pivotal role in the overall success of your Information Governance Framework, enabling your organisation to capitalise on the value of its information assets while mitigating risks and maintaining compliance.
Regularly monitoring and updating your framework
Maintaining the effectiveness and compliance of your Information Governance Framework requires regular monitoring and updating. This ensures that your framework stays aligned with evolving regulatory requirements and addresses changing risks and challenges within your organisation or industry.
Some methods for monitoring and updating your framework include conducting regular audits, reviewing policies and procedures, and implementing new technologies. Keeping up with changes and persistently refining your framework helps your organisation maintain its competitive advantage, ensure compliance, and manage its information assets effectively.
Measuring the success
Measuring the success of your Information Governance Framework is crucial to understanding its overall effectiveness and identifying areas for improvement. This involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as:
- Data accuracy
- Data security
- Data availability
- Data compliance
Monitoring these KPIs can help organisations pinpoint areas of improvement and ensure that their information governance efforts are achieving the desired outcomes.
Frequent evaluation of your Information Governance Framework’s success allows for maintaining its efficacy, adapting to changing circumstances, and instigating continuous improvement. This ensures the proper management of your information assets and supports your organisation’s long-term success and resilience.
Legal Compliance, The data protection act and Information Commissioner’s Office
Legal Compliance and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) play a crucial role in enforcing information governance regulations, such as the Data Protection Act, and ensuring that organisations adhere to best practices. The ICO is the UK’s independent regulator for data protection and freedom of information, tasked with enforcing data protection and freedom of information laws, and ensuring that organisations abide by them.
Compliance with the ICO-enforced regulations is vital for organisations to ensure their adherence to laws and regulations, and to protect their customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Failure to comply with these regulations may result in fines, sanctions, and other penalties.
Organisations can maintain legal compliance and foster a culture of responsible information management by understanding and implementing the necessary policies and procedures.
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In conclusion, effective information governance is essential for organisations to manage risks, ensure compliance, enhance decision-making, and safeguard sensitive information. By understanding the key principles of information governance, assessing your organisation’s needs, developing a strategy, implementing data management systems, and regularly monitoring and updating your framework, you can build a robust and adaptive Information Governance Framework that maximises the value of your information assets and supports your organisation’s long-term success.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the 3 information governance principles?
The three information governance principles are to use information fairly, legally and transparently; for specified, explicit purposes; and in a way that is adequate, relevant and limited to only what is necessary.
What is an example of information governance?
An example of information governance is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which requires healthcare organisations to protect the privacy of patient medical information. This includes processes such as personal information exchange, data privacy protection, regulatory compliance audits, e-discovery, and records retention schedule.
Is information governance the same as GDPR?
Information governance is a broader term that encompasses data protection and GDPR. It ensures legal and regulatory compliance with GDPR and other relevant laws, as well as proper treatment of both paper and electronic information. Data protection and GDPR are two of the most important aspects of information governance. They ensure that personal data is collected, stored, and used in a secure and
What are the key concepts of information governance processes?
Information governance consists of categorisation, access management, records management, data governance, security and privacy, integrity and authenticity, information lifecycle management, business continuity, document handling, eDiscovery, and secure removal (disposition). Together, these core concepts help to ensure the safety, accuracy, and accessibility of important information.
What is the meaning of information governance?
Information governance is the framework that determines how information is created, shared, stored, and deleted, ultimately setting clear expectations for acceptable behavior.
Harman Singh is a security professional with over 15 years of consulting experience in both public and private sectors.
As the Managing Consultant at Cyphere, he provides cyber security services to retailers, fintech companies, SaaS providers, housing and social care, construction and more. Harman specialises in technical risk assessments, penetration testing and security strategy.
He regularly speaks at industry events, has been a trainer at prestigious conferences such as Black Hat and shares his expertise on topics such as ‘less is more’ when it comes to cybersecurity. He is a strong advocate for ensuring cyber security as an enabler for business growth.
In addition to his consultancy work, Harman is an active blogger and author who has written articles for Infosecurity Magazine, VentureBeat and other websites.