Compare Information Governance and Records Management

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

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

Here are the differences between information governance and records management.

Information governance

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

Information governance is essential because it ensures that companies manage all information in the same way and makes it easier for people to access it. Information governance also determines what content companies don’t need to retain, eliminating unnecessary data. As technology advances, companies may collect greater amounts of customer data, including personally identifiable information (PII). Organizations protect PII by creating and enforcing corporate information governance guidelines. Some highly regulated industries, such as energy and financial services, must provide annual compliance accounts to show they are following information governance regulations.

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 faced with an event, such as a lawsuit or compliance audit.

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

Many companies have information governance officers (CIGOs) who oversee information governance programs. The CIGO role is responsible for the development, management and application of the information governance program. CIGO should also establish an advisory board comprised of representatives from business, IT, general counsel, compliance, and other stakeholders to execute the information governance strategy.

Records management

Records management is how a company manages its digital and/or physical documents through the various stages of their life cycle, from creation to disposal of documents. Although some people believe that paper documents are obsolete with the digitization of most business processes, some companies require the maintenance of digital and physical documents.

records management lifecycle

Businesses can store their digital records in an on-premises or cloud-based content management system. Businesses can also store their physical records in boxes or in a storage facility. Government agencies may require physical records to serve all people, including those who cannot – or choose not to – use digital options. Some governments may also require 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 document management, even if the company employs a team to manage the documents. Records managers can inform employees in processes what information the company has, where the company stores it, and how long the company must retain it.

Businesses are likely to maintain a hybrid document management model, which includes the maintenance of physical and digital documents. Managing digital records improves efficiency and searchability through metadata tagging. Once the company has digitized the files, employees can easily access them in 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 the processes and frameworks that a business must follow in terms of managing information, and records management falls under this umbrella as part of the governance of information.

Records management is responsible for managing what happens to a record throughout its lifecycle, while information governance focuses on getting the big picture of how that process plays out in the overall success of the entire organization.