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Maintaining awareness of the source and use of information assets

An effective Information Governance Architecture can provide the fundamental awareness of the source and use of data and information assets across the organization. An awareness matrix similar to the one shown provides a valuable communication tool that we use during Information Governance facilitation sessions. This matrix shows the visualization of the governance stakeholders of an organization’s content, that has been classified into groups of similar content (subject areas). Governance stakeholders shown include owners, stewards, consumers, custodians, and system of record. In this simple example, we are showing the relationship of sales, inventory, vendors, customers and finance. As will be needed for subsequent discussions we will differentiate between data and information, or Data Governance vs. Information Governance.

The puzzle pieces needed for this awareness are captured during governance facilitation interviews, either during an initial governance implementation or efforts to tactically implement a governance strategy that has been sitting on a shelf due to the absence of implementable clarity. These facilitation sessions are valuable in their own right. A typical comment between business folks is “I had no idea you used that data. What do you need it for and from where do you get it?” This fundamental lack of awareness of source and use of content represents a significant risk to the organization, as often the wrong or incorrect source is used. Even where no risk exists, there is an incredible operational waste, or muda as known in lean thinking circles. Waste that we estimate at 20% of any content-intensive position, spent solely on collecting and validating data. Manufacturing proved years ago that removing the waste from the manufacturing floor could significantly increase factory output. Our approach is to do the same within the information factories that exist in most organizations.

During individual interviews and working sessions, this awareness of source and use of content emerges. When viewed across the Information Governance Architecture, we are talking about the intersection between the Business Architecture and the Information Architecture. “Who uses what, from where, during what business process?” Very simple business questions that reveal a tremendous complexity and dependency between business units, and business units and the systems that support them. These same business questions provide significant amounts of knowledge that must be classified and associated in order for news to emerge from the noise of the governance pieces.
Effective facilitation with content SMEs can unravel this puzzle quickly and provides the content for the Organizational Governance MatrixTM. The issue is that organizations do not stand still. Reorganizations are commonplace. Responsibilities are reassigned based on audit findings or separation of duties. SMEs move between departments forcing realignment. Systems are replaced. Technology-enabled governance is required to effectively keep up with the organizational and technology landscape of organizations. Source and use awareness is not practical on spreadsheets.

To date, we have discussed the relationship between Business Architecture and Information Architecture. The discussion of system of record, at the business level, also introduced Application Architecture. We are not at the column or database level (yet). Looking at these architecture tiers of the organization as components of the overall Information Governance Architecture is a systematic way to understand the relationships between the business and their data and information assets in a way that can be then translated to the metadata and governance teams. This is a way that the pieces and parts can be viewed as a whole, enabling a fundamental awareness of source and use of content across the organization. Subsequent blogs will further explore the definition of the Information Governance Architecture and how it relates the Organizational Governance Matrix.