A GC’s Guide to Prioritizing Information Governance Projects

By Nick Inglis

General Counsel and Chief Legal Officers are facing a new challenge: prioritizing information-related projects across their firm.

With competing interests across various disciplines: privacy, security, information governance, information management, documents, records, discovery, data science, etc., it’s no wonder that General Counsel and CLOs tasked with making these ultimate decisions are in a challenging position.

All information projects should be envisioned within the context of a larger Information Governance vision for a firm or company. So, in an ideal environment, I would suggest you perform a “current state assessment” that includes the analysis of your organization’s:

  • information architecture
  • reference architecture (a helpful type of technology map)
  • cultural maturity
  • technical maturity
  • policy
  • process

Not all firms are created equal

I also recognize that the feasibility of performing a complete current state analysis isn’t the same for every firm. I continue to point clever GC/CLOs to various sources of guidance around Information Governance (including here at IPRO). I also acknowledge that a complete current state analysis may not be feasible if you’re in the trenches.

If you need a good stand-in for a current state analysis that is less precise but can help guide decisions, I suggest an alternative approach. We can look to some simple variables and average them to help guide our direction (which must be a fair amount better than choosing at random or making the decision based on the loudest voice in the room).

Let’s turn to some simple spreadsheets to help guide our prioritization.

Prioritization is some combination of:

  • ease of benefit attainment (cost, time) [we’ll call this B for “benefit”]
  • the relative importance of project impact [we’ll call this I for “impact”]
  • complexity (a solid but simple stand-in for the likelihood of project success) [we’ll call this “C”]

How you calculate this prioritization based on those variables is dependent on your particular firm. The goal is to develop a relative prioritization score [RPS] across projects.

Since every firm and company is different, we should consider alternatively weighting these variables against one another. While the most straightforward formula here may be RPS = B x I x C, it may not be the most valid for your organization.

This prioritization should guide, not decide – use these thoughts along with your best judgment and organizational knowledge.

Blunt Force vs Information Governance

Admittedly, these approaches approaches are a bit like blunt force. They’re your thoughts that then become a prioritization of projects and project stakeholders. A current state evaluation, as part of a comprehensive Information Governance program remains the ideal way to prioritize projects, and it creates tremendous positive impacts on organizations. If you want to solve some problems and work your way toward something more comprehensive in the future, you can increase the likelihood of accuracy of your prioritization by bringing other thoughtful people in your organization along with you in this prioritization process, getting their feedback and thoughts, then averaging prioritization scores.

Prepare For Future Increases in Complexity

The role of the GC or CLO has never been more complex, nor has it been tasked with more. As information-related projects land on more and more GCs and CLOs’ desks, it increases the complexity of the role.

IPRO offers additional learning to support you along your pathway towards comprehensive Information Governance, with the tools to enable your most important information-related projects.