Most articles and blog posts about information governance provide very little in the way of new insight about how to accomplish information governance in major corporations. They typically just embellish on what everyone already knows ought to be done, not how to do it.

Less_What_More_How_x590Some may provide further data points quantifying the problem (e.g., companies are accumulating data at an accelerating rate or there are significant risks and costs associated with excessive retention of data) and some may offer models of processes in which documents are classified as either having business or regulatory value, they’re assigned retention schedules, and upon the expiration of the retention periods, they are destroyed unless under legal hold – all under the coordinating guidance of a multidisciplinary team of primary stakeholders.

Noticeably lacking is any specific guidance on exactly how does an organization do what it already knows it needs and wants to do. Companies are left in the position of an aspiring athlete who wants to win an Olympic track event but is only advised by the coach to “run fast” with no guidance on diet, conditioning, equipment, specific exercises or training regimens. Not really of much help.

So here’s some specific advice on how to accomplish major information governance tasks like file share remediation, content migration, or archive digitization: Focus on the key first step involved in any major information governance task involving documents: Classification. If you can’t consistently classify your documents it is impossible to “govern” them as implied in the term “information governance.”

Use a classification process that consistently and uniformly classifies all your organization’s documents, both native electronic files and scanned documents, with or without accurate associated text. Only one technology meets that criteria: visual classification.

The Why of Visual Classification v01x600Regardless of which initiative is top priority, the intelligence accumulated in the system for distinguishing between records and non-records, applying document-type labels, extracting attributes, or identifying and possibly redacting PII, can all be rolled forward into the next initiative. There is no wrong place to start and each successive initiative becomes easier by building on the work of previous initiatives. See, “Rolling Intelligence, Enterprise-Level Paying It Forward.”

Because of the automatic visual clustering, only a very small percentage of documents needs to be examined and it is completely feasible to have stakeholder representatives from business units, legal, and RIM all sitting in a room looking at documents being displayed on a large monitor or screen and making the two basic decisions about the clusters of visually-similar documents: (1) do we need to retain them and (2) if so, what document-type label do we want to apply to them? See,  Technology.

The multidisciplinary team can also provide guidance about what data elements ought to be extracted from each document type for subsequent retrieval or analysis. This is not burdensome because there are relatively few document types used in the classification tree, typically measured in the hundreds or a few thousand. Data analysts perform zonal attribution extraction on the visually-similar clusters.

Once documents have been consistently classified and attributed, the documents along with those values are imported into the content management system of choice, e.g., Open Text, FileNet, or Documentum, where they can be used for any number of tasks, e.g., to:

  • Assign access rights
  • Aid in efficient retrieval or reporting
  • Assign retention schedules
  • Place and remove legal holds
  • Perform targeted collection for investigations or litigation
  • Enforce disposition guidance

If you already know what you’d like to undertake for information governance but have been stymied by a lack of scalable, comprehensive solutions, email us at, we have proven, practical, implementable technology to enable you to govern even the largest collections.

Related Post: “9 Things Google Maps Teaches About Information Governance

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