One of the biggest challenges in information governance is determining exactly how to manage unstructured content sitting on file shares and ECM systems. Here are some goals to consider when deciding how to deal with such unstructured content:
1. Raise Awareness. The system should provide managers with an awareness of the type and number of unstructured content objects they are managing as well as any characteristic of those objects that may make it difficult to access and use the information they contain.
2. Move Content Forward on Data – Intelligence Continuum. The goal of an organization is to use data, not just store it. To be useful data points in unstructured content have to be classified so they can become useful information, which becomes recognized knowledge that in turn can be used as intelligence.
3. Incremental Improvement. There are no individual silver bullets when dealing with unstructured content. Successful governance of such content involves leveraging what is known about a collection at any given point to reduce the number of exceptions or unknowns and then taking another look or using a different set of tools with the remainder. This notion is sometimes expressed as, “The best is the enemy of good enough.”
4. Quantifiable Metrics. Recognizing that perfection is not achievable when handling millions or even billions of document objects, there should be explicit metrics on quality and throughput goals. How close to 100% is acceptable? For example, file classification should be five 9s accuracy level, i.e., 99.999%.
5. Automated, Single-Instance, Persistent Decisions. Whenever possible systems supporting information governance decisions should automate applying the same decisions in the same situations. This lowers costs and helps assure the consistency which is perhaps the single most important measure of any information governance system.
6. Simplicity. The simpler things can be kept, the more likely they are to work and to keep working.
7. Comprehensiveness. This could be viewed as a type of simplicity. A system that treats as close to all unstructured content will be better than multiple systems that each address subsets of such content.
8. Change Management. New types of content are introduces constantly, and old types change. Information management systems should alert administrators when significant changes occur.
9. Appropriate Use of All the “Wares.” Unstructured content management systems involve the intelligent use of hardware, software, and “wetware” (i.e., people).
These items provide a way to benchmark or measure different approaches to managing unstructured content for information governance purposes.
For more insight on how to manage unstructured content, sign up to receive notice when the Guide to Managing Unstructured Content, Practical Advice on Gaining Control of Unstructured Content, is released, request notification at: