Aligning Your IG Program with Your Organization’s Mission for C-Suite Buy-In

Laurie Fischer | January 08, 2018

As data continues to grow uncontrollably in every organization today, the need for comprehensive information governance becomes increasingly apparent. Defining the rules and operating needs that govern an organization’s data, and then acting on those rules through defensible disposition, reduces the risk and cost of unnecessary storage and e-Discovery, as well as reducing the damage of a potential cyber-attack.

Although the IG professional is well aware of the benefits of information governance in reducing the organization’s cost and risk, as well as enhancing employee productivity, attaining funding and executive support is often illusive. How does the IG professional gain the attention of the c-suite? We set out trying to find the answer to this critical question by surveying our audience at a recent industry conference on topics such as IG program metrics and business value, IG / IT business strategies, and cross-disciplinary collaboration. When asked how many of the conference participants aligned their IG program vision and mission statements with those of the overall mission and vision of the organization, we found that 55 percent of respondents stated there was no alignment at all.

This is concerning. For an IG program to prove its value and ultimately capture the attention of executive leadership, the program must demonstrate alignment with the overall goals and objectives of the organization, most often expressed in enterprise vision and mission statements. Gone are the days when the justification for an IG program was simply compliance. Yes, compliance is certainly a key driver – whether it is compliance with the thousands of laws that dictate retention and disposition of an organization’s information, or the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that require preservation of information related to lawsuits, or even compliance with the organization’s own internal policies. Yet, compliance alone is inadequate to truly capture the attention of senior executives within an organization about the importance of an IG Program. If we do not align our goals and objectives with those of the organization, executive leadership will view IG as just another administrative non-revenue-producing overhead function that is not fully supported by the c-suite.

 Fortunately, many IG professionals have learned to demonstrate how their program’s goals and objectives support the overall mission of the enterprise, with measurable results to the bottom line. In many cases, this has helped build the business case for increasing IG resources and attaining funding for key initiatives.

 The following case study is an example of how an IG professional proactively aligned key IG program requirements with executive leadership strategy. The lessons learned are valuable to IG professionals who may be looking to demonstrate the benefits they bring by reducing risk and enhancing compliance, all while contributing to the attainment of the organization’s mission.

Case Study: Information governance helps contribute to digital transformation at a large pharmaceutical

Overview: When a very large, international pharmaceutical looked to revamp its traditional outdated go-to-market strategy that also reflected its internal culture, it brought in several new executives, including a new chief information officer (CIO), to get the wheels in motion.

Immediately, there were two initiatives the new CIO championed. First, the company determined it would be able to significantly reduce operating costs by retiring hundreds of legacy applications and selectively archiving some of the data in those applications. Second, the new CIO decided to roll out Office 365 (O365), underscoring the opportunity for better collaboration among employees across the company.

Challenge: Hearing of these key CIO-mandated initiatives, the IG director immediately identified several key concerns. Would pulling the plug on the legacy applications result in disposing of data that had not been retained long enough to comply with FDA regulations or with legal hold preservation requirements? Conversely, would archiving data no longer required to be retained unnecessarily add to operating costs? The IG director was also concerned with an aspect of the O365 deployment strategy that dictated the migration of all existing shared drive content to OneDrive for Business. Knowing how out-of-control the shared drive environment already was, the IG director feared that this “lift and shift” approach would just move the mess from an on-premise environment to the cloud.

Solution: Joining forces with colleagues in the law and IT departments, the IG director developed a plan of action that addressed the compliance and operational issues he had identified while aligning with the CIO’s strategic goals and objectives. The plan underscored the cost savings and efficiencies (and yes, compliance) that would result from the following key actions:

  • Performing legacy data analysis: An analysis of the legacy applications would clearly define the data requiring on-going retention versus that data having no further business purpose, eliminating the need for unnecessary archiving, while retaining data required by regulation. Collaboration with the law department would be critical to also ensure data requiring on-going legal hold preservation was retained.
  • Defensible disposition before migration: The IG director proposed a systematic, technology-enabled analysis of the existing shared drive content, removing unnecessary data before the wholesale migration to OneDrive for Business. Next, the IG director defined a governance structure within O365 that would control the growth of data in the future. Not only did the IG director show significant cost savings that would result from his plan, but also highlighted how this strategy would better support the CIO’s goal of increased collaboration.

Key benefits: By aligning the IG program with the organization’s mission and vision, the IG professional is likely to gain greater attention and support from executive leadership. Speaking the language of the c-suite contributes to the strength of the business case for IG’s value while keeping the leadership team’s overarching objectives top of mind. When the c-suite understands that the IG program’s goals meet their own, it becomes clear how a strong IG program contributes to bottom line costs savings, improves efficiencies and evolves the organization to greater compliance. 

In the next blog post in this series, I will share another case study illustrating how IG professionals can further promote c-suite buy-in by setting a clear vision. To learn more about how to align your IG strategy with that of your broader organization, contact me at