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August 01, 2007


Marc Farley

Chuck, why wouldn't this fall under the domain of the CIO? C-level roles are almost always cross-functional. It may be that some CIOs view their roles strictly as IT czars, but I suspect most of them see information governance as their primary job responsibility (even though they might have other words for it).

Chuck Hollis

Well, I've met more than a few in my travels, and how they view their job varies widely. If you go buy the book on Enterprise Architectures that I like so much, there's a cogent explanation as to why that might be.

But there's something else that's important here. Governance implies cross-functional representation outside of any one function.

Put differently, if the CIO thinks it's IT's job, that's what it will be, and it won't be viewed as a business problem.

The few companies that I've met that are doing this well have made sure that -- even though IT is fully engaged -- it's positioned as a corporate issue, and not an IT one ...

Thanks for reading!

Joe Otway

Hello Chuck.

Do you have a good definition of what Information Governance is?

The best single paper I've collected yet is the IBM Dtata Governance Council's maturity model paper called "Building a roadmap for effective data governance".

Can you or EMC provide me with something of equal substance?

Grateful for your help.

Chuck Hollis

Hi Joe

The best (short) definition is "a cross-functional management team empowered to create policies that balance cost, value and risk in regards to corporate information management".

I guess I could put that in a white paper, but I think the EIU's paper pretty much says it all:


IBM's defintion (and deliverables) I believe focus more on the traditional definitions of "data governance", e.g. ensuring proper semantics and usefulness of particular data elements.

Nothing wrong with that -- but I think the phrase "information governance" is thought of in the same way "financial governance" has been thought of in the past.

More than willing to discuss further, if you're interested?

-- Chuck

Kris Thorstenson


I am involved in a company wide project regarding email management and records retention. While we have a paper retention schedule we do not have one for electronic records.

To make things more interesting legal documents have been and still are retained in individual mail file accounts (Lotus Notes). Because of this there has been a no delete mentality for a number of years.

This is not only expensive but potentially risky if litigation comes into play. Not to mention there is a massive amount of unnecessary email taking up valuable space.

We ran a voluntary email reduction awareness campaign with surprisingly good results. Company wide we reduced our overall size by over 30%. This is a good start but there is much more to be done. Legal is in the process of crafting an electronic record policy.

Funding is limited for 2009 so a defined technical architecture has been deferred until 2010. There's been a lot of talk around information governance but I'm not sure if it's truly represented.

Any suggestions or ideas?


Chuck Hollis

Hi Kris -- thanks for writing.

Any thorough discussion is well beyond the limits of a blog comment, so bear with me.

The first step is just having an agreed policy that represents the balance between risk, cost and value.

As an example, if just the legal guys are involved, I'm sure the policy will be very risk-adverse, but not necessarily cost-effective or user-friendly.

The trick is to get all three voices at the table.

Second, acknowledge that this will be an ongoing discussion. The team will make some recommendations, try some things, get some results, and want to adjust. Be prepared to have periodic discussions on this topic.

And be very clear with people that this challenge isn't going to go away in a meeting or two.

Third, technology can only work if it's clear what you're trying to get done -- and everyone is willing to help.

The user outreach program is a good start, but the best organizations keep that dialogue up with their users, since their behaviors can be either part of the problem, or the solution, depending.

Finally, the technology that does this stuff just keeps getting better and better, IMHO. The fact that you're not funded until 2010 isn't the worst thing -- it means you're encouraged (forced!) to have the business and policy discussion in 2009, which -- when you think about it -- is sort of the way things should happen, no?

Again -- thanks for writing!

Kris Thorstenson

Hi Chuck,

Thanks for responding to my previous post. One more question for you.

How would you go about creating a file plan without going to the business for input?

I know that sounds crazy, but unfortunately we don't have the funding (or at least that's what I'm told).

I'm also pushing for a specific legal definition as to what constitues an electronic legal document so at the very least we can use this when determining what is and is not retained.

Thanks again Chuck

Chuck Hollis

Hi Kris

What I usually do in these situations is to guess what a business user might want (as opposed to IT, legal, CFO), and clearly label it as "not validated yet".

That way, you can proceed without their input, or send it over for their comment.

Either way, you move ahead :-)

-- Chuck

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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