How An Aligned Business Case Can Attain C-Suite Buy-In for Information Governance

Laurie Fischer | January 30, 2018

In today’s world of never-ending data growth, privacy breaches and cyber-attacks, and growing legal and regulatory oversight, an IG professional’s job is challenging enough. But when an organization acquires or divests an entity or even a product line, the IG professional faces an additional set of challenges as new data may need to be integrated into systems and applications, existing data may need to be segregated and separated, and other data may require sharing or redacting.

As part of my ongoing IG blog series, the following case study examines the increasingly prominent role an IG professional needs to take in face of mergers and acquisitions. As with the first post in this series on aligning IG programs to obtain c-suite buy-in, the following study is an example of how an IG manager tied her IG program’s mission to the greater goals of the organization to avoid past mistakes.

Case Study: An international tech enterprise stays compliant amidst breakneck growth

Overview: “Double-digit growth through acquisition” was the mission statement of a large international technology enterprise that had experienced three years of non-stop acquisitions, evolving the company into a true tech giant.

Challenge: As the organization identified acquisition targets, performed its due diligence and crafted final purchase agreements and closing documents, rarely was the management, retention and disposition of the acquired entity’s data considered in the closing documentation, or part of subsequent integration initiatives. The IG manager was really only engaged when necessary pieces of information could not be located.

In one instance, key aspects of the acquired entity’s intellectual property for the design and development of a specific software component (the element for which it was acquired) was incomplete and the records documenting its development were lost during integration efforts.

Solution: Using this recent (and very costly) mishap as a backdrop, the IG manager drafted an Information Governance M&A Playbook. This playbook identified the pre- and post-IG considerations to incorporate into integration initiatives during a merger or acquisition. More importantly, as the IG manager developed a business case for the playbook, she calculated the costs associated with missing, lost or irretrievable data.

Because the number and velocity of acquisition targets was growing, the IG manager also requested an additional staff member to focus on this key integration activity full-time. After presenting her plan to the chief integration officer who then championed the proposal, it was determined that the benefits of the proposed plan far exceeded the costs of hiring a new IG employee. Additionally, the IG manager now has a seat at the table before acquisitions are closed to ensure data-related issues are resolved in advance of final agreements being signed.

Key benefits: Although hesitant to cite a past failure, the IG manager used past mistakes to help develop a business case for how to avoid the same problem from happening again. By demonstrating how her IG program was in line with the mission and vision of the organization at large, she was able to hire a dedicated staff member to support future M&A efforts.

Stay tuned for the next installment of information governance trends when we examine the most serious threats IG programs face today. To dive deeper into these emerging trends and discuss how your organization can demonstrate a direct correlation between your IG program and your organization’s ability to meet its vision, contact me for a briefing.