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Compare information governance vs. records management

Information governance focuses on the framework a business must follow for managing information, while records management focuses on the lifecycle of digital and physical records.

Information governance and records management are two important practices that keep businesses organized. While people often use them interchangeably, they are different.

Records management focuses on the system that controls the lifecycle of a record or anything that the organization may define as a business transaction. Information governance focuses on the structures, policies and procedures that a business requires to successfully manage its information.

Here are the differences between information governance and records management.

Information governance

Information governance is the framework a business follows to manage information and ensure compliance of industry regulations. It consists of the processes, roles and standards a company must follow when creating, storing and organizing documents, records and other company information and data.

Information governance is essential because it ensures that businesses manage all information in the same way and makes it easy for people to access. Information governance also determines what content isn't necessary for businesses to retain, so it eliminates unnecessary data. As technology advances, businesses can gather larger amounts of customer data, including personally identifiable information (PII). Organizations protect PII by creating and enforcing information governance guidelines for companies. Some highly regulated industries, such as energy and financial services, must provide annual accounts of compliance to show they are following information governance regulations.

Information governance plan

Some of the goals of information governance are to provide employees with the information they need, reduce storage costs and ensure compliance. Information governance aims to provide organizations with the information they need to make business decisions. Companies often realize they need information governance when they face an event, such as a lawsuit or compliance audit.

Companies often realize they need information governance when they face an event, such as a lawsuit or compliance audit.

Many companies have chief information governance officers (CIGOs) who oversee information governance programs. The CIGO role is responsible for developing, managing and enforcing the information governance program. The CIGO should also create an advisory board with representatives from business, IT, general counsel, compliance and other stakeholders to execute the information governance strategy.

Records management

Records management is the way a business manages its digital and/or physical records throughout various stages of their lifecycle, all the way from creation to disposal of records. Though some people think paper records are obsolete with the digitization of most business processes, some companies require the maintenance of both digital and physical documents.

records management lifecycle

Companies may store their digital records in an on-premises or cloud-based content management system. Businesses may also store their physical records in boxes or at a storage facility. Governmental agencies may require physical records to serve all people, including those who cannot -- or choose not to -- use digital options. Some governments also may require the retention of certain physical documents, such as financial records -- by law -- for extended periods of time, depending on the industry.

Records managers are responsible for understanding records management operations; however, the CEO or CFO is often responsible for records management, even if the company employs a team to manage the records. Records managers can inform employees on the processes of what information the business has, where the business stores it and how long the company must keep it.

Companies are likely to maintain a hybrid records management model, which includes the maintenance of both physical and digital records. Digital records management improves efficiency and findability through metadata tagging. Once the company digitizes the records, employees can access them easily within a document management system, such as Microsoft SharePoint, M-Files or eFileCabinet.

Differences between information governance and records management

Information governance is an umbrella term that defines all processes and frameworks a business must follow in terms of information management, and records management falls under that umbrella as one piece of information governance.

Records management is responsible for managing what happens to a document throughout its entire lifecycle, while information governance focuses on the bigger picture of how that process plays into the overall success of the entire organization.

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