Where Should Information Governance Live?

This post originally appeared on CMSWire.

There are some perennial questions in the world of enterprise content management (ECM) consulting – questions like:

  • What is the most common reason ECM fails?
  • What is the most important element in good governance?
  • Can’t we just use one tool for all our content?

Most of the time, these are straightforward to answer (lack of defined business benefits; executive support; NO), but there’s one that is not only perennial, but – to me, at least – extremely difficult to answer: 

Where should information governance live? 

'It Depends'

There are lots of possible answers (IT, Legal, Compliance, Administration, the business), and some absolutely wrong answers (Facilities), but no single, unequivocally right answer.

I typically fall back on being a useless consultant and begin my response with “it depends.”

From there, I dodge the question by describing the various places it can live and why – e.g. sometimes it lives in IT because they own the ECM platform and information governance just kind of becomes their thing; sometimes it lives in Facilities, because they owned the garages with the boxes of paper back in the day and no one else wanted to claim it even after it became about managing electronic records as much as paper; Legal sometimes owns it because they have a vested interest in managing information to reduce risk; etc.

Then I close by saying that, at the end of the day, information governance (IG) can be successful living just about anywhere (except maybe Facilities) and that the more important factor is how you execute on it.

Which, honestly, feels a little like a cop-out. Why isn’t there an ideal place for IG to live? So what that IG lives all over the place at organizations? Sharpen up your pencil, Mr. Fancy-pants Consultant! Brew up a pot of coffee, and lock the door until you come up with where IG ought to live, in order to help us improve how we do IG today!

Believe me, I’ve tried. But every existing department or function has too many cons to give it the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. And so I find myself dreaming up some pie-in-the-sky, cross-functional team of IT, Legal, Records Management and the business that, while it would be great, is never going to happen today at the vast majority of organizations.

A Question

Which brings us to now, to the reason for writing this post: I want to know what the larger community of practitioners, talking heads, neophytes, techies, and other assorted Doculabs blog readers have to say on the subject. Where does IG live today in your organization (or at the organizations you partner with)? Is that working, or not? Ideas on a better place? Is this even the right question to ask, or should we just be happy that someone wants to own IG and move on?

Share your thoughts, and let’s get the conversation started!

Rich Medina
Joe Shepley
I’m VP and Practice Lead, focusing on developing Doculabs’ InfoSec practice and its applications in a wide range of industries.