There is a lot of talk these days about information governance. There are discussions over the scope, goals and if it is even a real thing. There is not enough discussion around how to do it well. Everyone agrees that information is an asset that needs to captured and protected, but how to do it without forcing everyone to become a records manager?

The answer is automation. There are several forms of automatic classification that, when deployed in conjunction, could capture a vast majority of documents properly. The trick is capturing the content in the system of record in such a way that nobody has to intervene.

"Having what you need and knowing what you have, that is the purpose of information governance."

The foremost way is embedding the rules in the content creation and review process. The context of content is always well-known to the system at that time and proper classification is as straightforward as it will ever get.

Breaking it down
One item that is always important to preserve and keep is external communications. Everything sent out by a company represents official statements. It is important to track and understand everything that has been communicated to customers and partners. The last thing that anyone wants to do is be caught by surprise when confronted with an older communication that nobody could recall.

This is where automatic classification can be brought into play. Organizations send out mass communications every day. It is important to keep those communications as records.

For example, let’s say a bank sent out letters to all of its customers who have had business checking accounts for three or more years. In the letter, there is a special offer for a new type of account. These letters should be kept electronically in order to provide documentation of the offer to the customer. Even if the customer does not accept the offer, the letter needs to be kept as a record.

Once the communications are created digitally, they can be saved individually in a records management (RM) system, recording the date mailed and the customer identification. The correct records policy can then be applied automatically as those two facts determine how long the communication should be kept.


Why a records management system?
Most customer communications management (CCM) systems can save communications without the need for sending the documents to a separate RM system. Why involve a records management system?

The reason is the control and more flexible rules around how long to keep a record. In the preceding example, the rule could be to keep the communication until the customer has not been a customer for five years. There are likely a lot of documents related to each customer and keeping them where there can be one set of rules to manage them makes the proper management of records easier for the records manager.

MORE: Can You Build the Bigger Content Picture for Your Communications Strategy?

The ultimate goal is to capture, classify and protect all content for as long as it provides business value, either as a record or as a reference. Once it no longer has that value, definitive removal of the content is important. That makes it clear what documents are present in corporate systems and which documents are not.


Having what you need and knowing what you have, that is the purpose of information governance. Automation makes it possible.

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