By Siobhan King |

June 21, 2024

The benefits of a tight information governance framework

Metataxis has worked on many information governance projects.

Senior Consultant and Governance expert here at Metataxis, Siobhan King, shares her experience of introducing a clear information governance framework for a topflight law firm and the benefits it can deliver.

Read on:

How it all started

It’s just after 11:00am on a Thursday morning at a topflight law firm. The Head of Risk is on their knees, riffling through cabinets looking for misplaced files required for a client audit. They are ready to rip into the errant legal secretary who has been careless enough to lose the files and arrogant enough to ignore instructions, warnings and pleas from their Operations Manager. How did things come to this?

This is precisely what our client was thinking when they called Metataxis to talk about their information governance framework. Perhaps the incident with the Head of Risk getting grubby marks on their trousers knees wasn’t the exact reason that prompted reaching out to us, but it certainly came up in our first conversation with this client! The law firm knew that they had a comprehensive set of policies and procedures in place to address information governance, but also recognised that sometimes there was a disconnect between the framework and how things happened in the real world.

The next steps

Metataxis was invited to review the existing information governance policy and practices, conduct a thorough gap analysis and subsequently deliver a set of valid recommendations and guidelines to ensure the firm had a comprehensive and compliant information governance framework in place.

You can get a lot of clues from one anecdote. Even before completing our document analysis and carrying out interviews with key staff, we knew we would want to spend some time looking at:

– Review existing policy
– Thorough gap analysis
– Clear recommendations

  • What roles and responsibilities have been assigned within the existing framework
  • What obligations does the firm have to stakeholders regarding information governance and what are the drivers that will motivate employees to do the right thing
  • What policies are in place and most importantly, how are these delivered to staff
  • What escalation or enforcement policies and practices are there when there are issues of non-compliance
  • What regular monitoring and reporting activities are in place to measure compliance and improvement

Our findings

Unsurprisingly, our findings for the firm revealed issues with allocation of roles and responsibilities. There was one key role – records manager – that need to be addressed. There was a need to produce much clearer policy and guidance documentation for end users and subsequently back that up with ongoing support and a clear escalation process.  Better intelligence around information governance was also needed – we found at least one instance of a policy being instigated at board level where there were many different versions of the truth on the ground regarding expectations.

We also put forward a series of additional recommendations, such as getting clarity on the art of the possible for retention and disposal management within their document management system. Of course, the Head of IT seized upon doing this first, but the Head of Risk prevailed, and the firm started by looking at roles and responsibilities and creating an operating model for information governance. Once our recommendations were accepted, these formed the beginnings of a high-level road map for information governance.

The benefits

The benefits of tightening the information governance framework before engaging in a big IT project or disposal programme were:

  • Clarity about which tasks needed to be completed and by whom
  • Clarity regarding any significant gaps that needed to be addressed
  • Greater connection between Leadership and what is happening on the ground
  • Consistent communication of expectations, issues and ideas
  • Clearer approaches to escalation and enforcement if needed
  • Empowerment of people with leadership roles to make necessary decisions to take information governance forward
  • Empowerment of people with operational roles to enforce policies by providing them with escalation support

All this, combined with a commitment to follow through with actions on the road map, has meant that the law firm is now in a very healthy position to change and grow their information governance programme.

One year later…

It’s just after 11:00am on a Thursday at a topflight law firm. The Head of Risk has just finished a briefing with their newly appointed Information Governance Officer to understand the overall position of the firm regarding information governance maturity.

The Information Governance Officer has been working very closely with an experienced and capable Project Manager to put together a business case for a new retention management system, fully supported by a global information governance operating model.

Information governance provides clarity around roles, responsibilities and resources to proceed with projects successfully, avoiding over spending and delays.

Get to grips with information governance

As information governance experts, the Metataxis approach to information governance ensures practical, flexible, and cost-effective solutions to your information problems. We offer a wide range of information and document management services, including consulting, system implementation and training to maximise success, maintain compliance and drive productivity.

Accelerate your information governance success