Information Governance Maturity: Assessing Your IG Program for the Path Forward


  • January 27, 2018

Continuous improvement is a mantra in today’s business world, and it is a steadfast rule in information governance maturity — but you have to know where you are before you can plan where you’re going. This means you must objectively review the maturity of your organization’s information governance program by accepted industry standards. ARMA International developed the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles® and the Information Governance Maturity Model that sets the standards for organizations to follow.

By now, most people understand the Principles® (Accountability, Transparency, Integrity, Protection, Compliance, Availability, Retention and Disposition) and what they entail. The Maturity Model takes each of these principles and defines them in terms of procedural levels: Substandard, In Development, Essential, Proactive and Transformational. These can all be found on ARMA International’s website.

Review the Maturity Model and leverage it to create evaluation questions that you can use to survey key stakeholders in your organization. While some of the principles are readily defined, resist the urge to go with your own perspective. It is important to interview people across the organization to get an overview of how well the individuals that really do the work of the program understand it. Incidentally, this is also a great way to measure the effectiveness of the overall training process, which is critical to a program’s long-term viability.

The Maturity Model is useful as an overall scorecard for the program and also as a guide for creating a strategic plan forward. Every organization has room for improvement. The minimum goal is for your organization to be solidly scored at the Essential level, which means the program has addressed the organization’s legal, regulatory and business requirements to effectively manage related needs.

There are many organizations that want to move beyond the minimum — particularly in the area of big data — and plan a strategy to attain the Proactive level. While everyone wants to be the best, there are few organizations that have a goal of achieving the Transformational level. The reason? There is always a delicate balance between time, budget and keeping the organization going. Moving to the Transformational level involves a lot of commitment in terms of time and money, which most organizations do not have readily available.

Survey and score each of the stakeholders independently (to establish metrics for each area) and then combine them for an organizational average. This organizational average will represent the baseline Information Governance Assessment scorecard that can be reported to management.

Remember that the Maturity Model provides detailed reasoning for each level, which means there is already a basic roadmap available to move to the next level! This gives you an advantage: You will be able to provide a gap analysis for the program as well as offer solutions for the deficiencies. Continuous improvement is important to every organization and a necessity for information governance.

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