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Information Governance . . . Positioning for Success

Growth Brings Need for More Formal Information Management

A mid-sized upstream Exploration and Production company was experiencing information management growing pains as their organization expanded.  They were beginning to feel the need to more formally manage their information assets, driven by the increased compliance and litigation risks that come with growth. 

With no real records management policies in place to manage retention and disposition of information, the organization described itself as a “litigator’s paradise.” Much of the company’s growth was driven by acquisition, and each of the new regional offices had their own conventions and ways of doing things. 

Specific issues to be addressed included:

  • Prepare the organization for future litigation,  discovery, and audit
  • Remediate 2-3 Terabytes of legacy unstructured data, and tackle unmanaged email and paper records
  • Dispose of legacy physical or electronic records
  • Deploy information governance policies across five highly independent regional offices
  • Develop a platform for sharing information and promoting collaboration

Comprehensive Approach to Information Governance

The approach we took revolved around three main objectives:

  • Define an overall Information Governance framework
  • Develop a technical architecture for managing electronic records
  • Create a change approach to prepare the organization to adopt the new program and policies

The first task was to design the guiding processes and policies for information governance (IG) that would allow the organization to manage its content consistently. Central to any IG program is a Records Retention Schedule to provide the foundation for a systematic and defensible disposition of legacy records.  We also developed a complete governance framework including policy and procedure documentation to set definition and purpose for the new program, a metadata model to define how to tag and classify documents, and organizational role definitions that would not only describe which positions to hire for, but would also influence user role descriptions for a future Enterprise Content Records Management (ECRM) system.

Organizations need the right tools and systems to allow users to properly implement and apply records policy and information governance. Using the governance framework as a starting point, we gathered process, policy, and metadata needs, as well as assessed the client’s existing technology environment to arrive at a prioritized set of technical and functional specifications for the content management tool.  With the requirements set, we were able to take a vendor neutral approach to guide the crafting of an RFP and facilitate vendor demos, so the client could objectively evaluate, and select the tool they felt best fit their requirements.

Implementing technology correctly means effectively translating the governance framework into the technical architecture and configuration of the tools.  Making sure the interface between technology and end user is correct is key to the success of the governance program as a whole. In this case, we took a metadata driven approach that minimized the number of nested folders that would need to be maintained in the system. The libraries and folders were configured to automatically apply managed metadata to uploaded documents in a way that would help end users work within the governance framework with minimal effort. The technology allowed the use of a common framework with some room for customization for individual groups. The security model was designed to be as open as possible, so records could be managed in place by the owning group, but allow reference and collaboration from the groups they work with.

All of this activity introduced a significant amount of change into the organization. Employees needed to understand why the company undertook this initiative, and what it would mean to their work. To address this, we developed a program to both build awareness of the reasons and benefits of the new governance program and its impacts, and to prepare individuals for the forthcoming implementation of the content management tool. 

Boot Camp!

We met with line managers to prepare them to communicate the need for change to their team, and allow them the time to get the job done.  We established the timeline for the implementation so people understood the requirements we would ask of them.  We also provided refresher training on records management policy and principles, as well as taxonomy training so Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) could fully understand and build towards their new system environment.

Get Organized!

We traveled to each workgroup in each region to better understand their business processes and the ways they organize and search for data.  We identified the key types of metadata they already used to organize their file shares.  This allowed us to determine which content types would be most relevant to their workgroup, and how best to surface their information in the system to facilitate search and filtering.  As we developed their environment, we gave periodic previews of what their site looked like.

Cleanup and Moving

Coming out of boot camp, all team members had the same task – identify records material on personal drives and in email. Records were staged out on the share drives in preparation for tagging and migration. Staging records in a central location let the team take advantage of bulk migration – any future records would be their responsibility to get into the system manually. Coordinators and implementation team members were standing by to answer questions and provide support. Where possible, metadata was tagged automatically, with supplemental information and review coming from workgroup SMEs.  Once the content was reviewed and approved, we deployed bulk migration tools to automate migration of content from shares into the new system.

Training and Support

System training for each workgroup involved hands-on activities in a live environment and was delivered just before go-live.  We provided ongoing support to ensure documents and their metadata were migrated correctly, spot-checking via statistical sampling of migrated documents. 

Build Core Components to Drive Adoption Over Time

The client understood that the deployment of an Information Governance program was not a “one and done” initiative, but a multi-year endeavor. This willingness to build up the core components of the program led to a solid platform and improved adoption over time. 

The investment of time to develop a retention schedule and content catalogs generated a deeper understanding of how workgroups interact and led to the creation of central repositories, with open accessibility as a starting point, for globally accessed document types, such as well files. Creating a logical layout that reflected the users own work processes aided adoption and training and provided a consistent approach across different regional offices. 

Ultimately, users understood why the changes to their work were necessary to be compliant and responsive to the new pressures of growth. Managers actively supported plans to clean up redundant and outdated information and identify record content. At the end of deployment to the regional offices, over 110,000 records were migrated by 40 workgroups – records that were searchable, consistently tagged, and aged in accordance with a defensible information governance policy.

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