What is Information Governance? [Explained Simply]

What is Information Governance? [Explained Simply]

Information governance is becoming increasingly important for all organizations. But what is it and why is information governance so important?

Why is information governance important? Information governance is important because it creates accountability and a framework for organizations to implement policies, roles and standards to protect information being processed, used, and stored.

What is information governance, and why is it important?

Information governance is the management of information usability, integrity and security. Gartner defines the term as “the specification of decision rights and accountability frameworks to ensure appropriate behavior in the valuation, creation, storage, use, archiving and deletion of information.” This is a thorough way of saying that an information governance policy and system helps your organization manage data for maximum compliance, security and accessibility. This differs from the data lifecycle in that information governance also covers the policies and procedures governing information across an entire organization.

Why is that so important? There are a few reasons:

  • Many compliance frameworks, including PCI DSS, HIPAA and FedRAMP often include requirements for information governance. This is because governance provides an administrative infrastructure for documentation and accountability.
  • Governance policies typically connect with cybersecurity policies to help organizations coordinate cybersecurity efforts. Not every system or piece of information in your business will have the same kind of security requirements, but much of that data will fall under some sort of regulation due to sensitivity (for example, customer data, financial information, etc.) and an information governance policy can help you understand where your data is, where it goes and who accesses it.
  • Information governance gives your organization a clear view of your data so that you can make decisions to align cybersecurity, compliance and business goals. With many businesses, even SMBs, turning into data-driven operations managing terabytes of information, governance provides a system to manage that complexity without being overwhelmed.

Governance is such an important aspect of data-driven businesses that professionals are certified by authorized organizations. For example, the Association of Records Manager and Administrators International (ARMA) is a professional body of information governance experts that certify professionals, offer continuing courses and workshops and sponsor events. Likewise, the Certified Governance Officers Association (CIGO) is a similar organization for governance professionals on an international level.

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What is an Information Governance Framework?

An information governance structure provides a bird’s-eye view of how your org is creating and managing information assets . This framework is a combination of measures that include policies, procedures, administrative training, technology, compliance demands, risk management and business goals that impact (and are impacted by) how your data is used.

There are several key components of an information governance framework, which include:

  1. Compliance: Does the way you store, transmit and access data fall within regulatory guidelines? Are you documenting access properly through methods like audit trails? Is data properly protected wherever it is stored?
  2. Security: What levels of encryption are you using, at what points of usage or storage? Who has access to important authorization and authentication credentials? Are you properly managing risk associated with information access across your IT systems?
  3. Administration: Are your people properly trained to securely share and store information? Are there policies and procedures in place to ensure consistent access, sharing, and storing of information, especially if it’s sensitive? How do you document information access and transmission? How do you respond to security events?
  4. Business goals: Does information management support good decision-making by management? Are business outcomes aligned with data-driven plans and procedures? Is data accessible across your organization where it needs to be? Are there continuity and resiliency plans in place in the event of a security incident?
  5. Legal demands: Are you storing, accessing, and sharing data in alignment with your legal obligations, to accommodate, for example, consumer protections, contractual agreements or other regulatory requirements?

Following these items, a framework will help your business make informed decisions regarding business and workforce planning, risk management and long-term business goals. An information framework will typically include:

  • An overview of your company’s responsibilities and obligations.
  • Important roles in the organization that relate to data management and business operations.
  • Core principles that will drive these operations.
  • Operations and technologies that align with your security, compliance and business plans.
  • Operations and technologies that also align with your regulatory, legal and ethical requirements.

Why Should Your Business Implement Information Governance Measures?

If your business processes, shares, or receives data in any significant way, then you must have data governance policies in place. Proper data governance helps you understand how your data works and informs your decision making to achieve your business goals. It also lets you manage critical aspects of your business like security and compliance.

Primarily, an information governance framework will help you understand the value of your data. We’ve all heard lip service paid to “data-driven” businesses, but as marketing, operations and logistics increasingly focus on usage, it’s up to businesses to value that data as a key resource and asset for the company. That means that:

  1. The company knows where the data is, where it goes and how it’s used. This can mean getting data in the hands of the right people or making that data visible to key stakeholders in the organization.
  2. Management can understand who is handling data, and ensure employees have an easy but secure way to share data inside and outside the organization without violating compliance or security procedures or requirements.
  3. Security and Compliance Officers can ensure data policy and procedures are being followed while still supporting the business.

The Kiteworks Platform and Information Governance

The Kiteworks platform lets organizations achieve their information governance goals while meeting their security and compliance obligations. That’s because the Kiteworks platform emphasizes security, compliance and accessibility through a number of features:

  1. A bird’s-eye view of data: With the CISO Dashboard, you can keep track of your information wherever it’s stored and to whomever it’s shared. Organizations can better govern and protect their data when they can see it enter, traverse, and exit the network.
  2. Scheduled batch file transfers: take control of the flow of information entering or exiting your organization with scheduled transfers that happen when you want, whether that is off-hours or during specific events or triggers, with secure managed file transfer.
  3. Security and compliance: Coordinate compliance strategies and security infrastructure from a single location, including SFTP file transfers and secure email, with a system that can keep your data as safe and confidential as your business or regulators demand.

To learn how Kiteworks can support your information governance needs, schedule a custom demo of Kiteworks today.

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