money from around the world hanging from the ceiling of a pub
PHOTO: Jonny McKenna

In my last post, I discussed how non-information governance folks will never care about information governance (IG). And in general that’s true — unless you can align your IG efforts with things these folks care about (spoiler alert, they don’t care about good information lifecycle management, consistent information disposition, reducing ROT, effective corporate records management, etc.).

So what do they care about? Let’s dig in …

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Follow the Money Trail

Basically, non-IG folks care about making money, because executive leadership supports (and funds) the efforts that make more money for the organization. And this makes total sense: unless we’re a non- or not-for-profit that’s “doing it for the kids,” we’re in business to do business. Anything else is at best a distraction and at worst irrelevant.

So, if you want to succeed with IG, you need to first and foremost connect IG to how your organization makes money. Anything less, and you risk getting little to no support.

Which begs the question: do you know how your organization makes money? A few things drive the answer to this question:

  • What does it cost to create your product?
  • What does it cost to sell your product?
  • What does it cost to service your product?
  • What does it cost to “keep the lights on” and run the company?
  • What does it cost to look ahead and innovate to stay relevant?

If you don’t know the answer to all of these, you can’t consistently get IG funded and supported — which will cap the effects that IG can have at your organization.

Start by making sure you can answer these questions, but then quickly move on to communicating the value of IG in terms that non-IG folks care about.

Here’s how.

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3 Ways to Frame Your Information Governance Pitch

However you answer these questions for your organization, it all boils down to three things:

  1. Increasing revenue
  2. Increasing margins
  3. Reducing costs (enables #2)

Viewed through these three lenses, ask yourself why would anyone fund ROT cleanup, records management, consistent disposition, etc.? And if you answer with IG speak, the answer is they wouldn’t (and they don’t).

Instead, forget your IG concerns and focus relentlessly on what helps them contribute to the three things organizations in fact care about: increasing revenue, increasing margins, or reducing costs (or some combo of the three).

Related Article: Updating Your Office 365 Governance Plan: Information Governance

What’s Next?

Your first step is to figure out the answers to as many of the five questions posed above as possible. Your business partners for sure know them and, if you’re going to get their support for your IG efforts, you need to, too.

Step two is to tie IG directly to increased revenue, increased margins or lower costs (ideally two or all three of them).

Step three is to articulate the connection between IG and these three goals in non-IG language — get as close in your communications to how end users speak as possible.

The final step is to be real about your chances for funding and support. After all, leadership has more positive business case initiatives than they can afford. So it’s entirely possible you can articulate the IG ask perfectly and still get no funding — that’s just the way of the corporate world. But at least you won’t have lost because your ask was irrelevant.