Information management has become integral to many, if not all, business processes, but when a company invests in data governance tools and strategies, how does it prove they're actually working?
The answer, according to technology law expert Jeffrey Ritter, is to institute a program centered on data governance metrics. Without these metrics in place to evaluate systems, applications and processes, Ritter said, it's impossible to demonstrate how data governance ties into the overall objectives of most businesses: to make money.
"Applying metrics allows us to be able to show a return on our investment, and allows us to demonstrate that we are actually achieving results that deliver to the bottom line of the company," Ritter said.
In this podcast Q&A with SearchCompliance.com editor Ben Cole, Ritter discusses how organizations should be using data governance metrics to their business advantage. It's not always easy: When a company is managing digital information assets, it's often difficult to determine exactly where savings or new income is coming from, Ritter said.
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One strategy is to focus on the old adage, "time is money." Ritter points to the management discipline known as "activity-based accounting," whereby organizations examine the activities that employees engage in and determine the costs associated with the time spent conducting those activities. "The technology platform on which we all conduct our business every day can measure our activities with greater precision and therefore provide us the metrics that allow us to calculate the return on investment," he said.
Another obstacle is that records managers often are only required to show ROI for their own costs and operating expenses. This makes it difficult to show the overall impact of improved information governance on the entire business, Ritter said.
"If we look beyond the borderline of the records management and information governance function and look at all of the improvements that occur across the business … then we can find a way of calculating the return on investment that really shows the cumulative beneficial impact of a new investment in information governance," Ritter said.
This was first published in October 2012