Alan Weintraub

Alan Weintraub

September 2018

Infosec

DOGMA: Identifying the value in your unstructured information

I have spent many years helping organizations implement content management solutions to capture and manage their valued unstructured information. Some have succeeded, and some have failed. What I have learned from these implementations is that all of the successful ones have addressed five steps that I will call DOGMA;

  • Discover – how can we discover and categorize the valuable information contained in the file shares and many repositories
  • Organize – how can we organize the information, so the business users can identify, manage and control them
  • Govern – what are the policies required to make the information available, accessible and reliable
  • Manage – how do we manage the information lifecycle to meet compliance/retention requirements
  • Analyze – how can the users access the information and turn it into knowledgeable assets

Discover

Content today is maintained in many repositories, including email, file shares, Google Drive, Dropbox and SharePoint, to name just a few. Manually reviewing and organizing the vast quantity of information is often a daunting and impossible task. It is critical in the implementation process to identify and separate the files that require management from those that can be either deleted or just left alone.

Utilizing an automated tool that scans and groups your large amount of information is the best approach to accomplishing this time-consuming task. A good example is their ability to differentiate files that contain PII information from those that are related to contracts. Understanding the universe of files and their associated groupings is a critical task when designing and implementing a content management solution.

Organize

The next step in the process is to organize the information into document types that align with the organization’s business structure or taxonomy. It is critical that the end-users understand how to access the information. End-users want to work in a familiar environment and not be forced to think differently when trying to access information.

Developing the document types and metadata framework for each document type is often a long and tedious effort. Associating information to document types in a predefined taxonomy simplifies, if needed, the assignment of metadata. The maturity of automated tools, e.g. AI and Machine Learning, has led to better capabilities in identifying and assigning metadata with higher quality in finding the most valued metadata that describes the content. 

Govern

Once we have our content organized, the next step will be to develop a governance program that defines and enforces security, consistency and retention policies. Content governance ensures that content is available, accessible and reliable when needed for analysis. Timely access to the right content is critical when making strategic decisions. 

Too many times the wrong information is used in making decisions or communicating information to interested parties. Applying consistent policies to information provides users with the assurance that they can then access and trust the data.

Manage

The management step in the methodology refers to the information lifecycle that spans the creation to final deletion of information. The lifecycle phases cover creation, revision, approval, promotion, retention, and destruction. Management will establish the information, security, and retention architecture. 

Defining an effective information architecture will ensure the content is secure and meets compliance and records management requirements.

Analyze

The final step in the methodology is the ability to access and use the content for analysis and reporting. Having a well-defined information architecture enables fast reliable access to the content. New content analytics tools have emerged that help uncover value buried in the information. 

I have always been a believer that if there is no compliance/regulatory need to manage the content or you never go back to use the content for analysis/reporting, then there is no need to keep the content.

About Alan Weintraub

Alan is a senior information management leader and AIIM Fellow focusing on helping organizations maximize the value of their information.  Alan is a leading expert on multiple aspects of enterprise information management (EIM) including information governance (both data and content governance), enterprise content management, data management, digital rights management, and digital asset management.   Get in touch with Alan on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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