I spied an intriguing email yesterday with the title, “The ROI of Information Governance“. The article was from Information management. I knew this article would be fun to read and I was not proven wrong. I had recently blogged on a related topic: how to measure success of I formation governance.
Oddly though I found myself arguing that the article, well written by Henry Olsen of Embarcardo Technologies. I actually liked his article. It nicely explains what Information governance is. However, my problem can be summarized as followed:
Too many information governance success criteria are focused on intermediate metrics and analytics that don’t relate directly to business outcomes and their improvement.
For example, in the article, there are primary “Value creation opportunities” such as:
- reduction in time spent acquiring and acquiring information
- elimination of duplicates
- elimination of technical redundant work
Additional primary measures focused on data quality:
- reduction in rework and rationalization
- reduction in reporting and analytic errors
These are opportunities. But they do not, alone, guarantee or even drive improvements in business outcomes. I noted in my blog previously that an IG program might be reporting that “duplicated customer records are running at an all time low” just as profit margins approach zero. What use the de-dupe metric then? I did not see in the article the point that the real point is the improvement in business outcomes; and that prioritization of the outcome focus drives the resulting narrow focus on what data needs to be governed.
I think that Olsen’s points are valuable, I have to say, but I don’t think he hammers home the point enough that you should always and in every case, focus on business outcomes first. He does, later in the article, mention “scope and scale” of the information assets that are to be governed, but I did not see a clear alignment from the top down of business outcome, through to process KPI, to workflow metrics, down finally to specific data metrics (that will differ based on the context in which the data is being used).
I might be a little pedantic here. I don’t mean to be. There is a list of secondary and tertiary opportunities that do relate, in some degree, to business outcomes. So there is an implied relationship, but it is not clear or even presented as direct, and critcal to success. But I find my conversations with end users far richer if we focus on the larger gap they report – how to align the work of information governance to actual business outcomes. And I agree with Olsen when he infers that this links is often hard to do. His article is well worth reading.
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