Records Management vs. Information Governance - What's the Difference?

June 23rd, 2016 by Brian Courtney

With all of the various software solutions surrounding the management of information, it is understandable that most of us struggle keeping it all straight. Dozens, if not hundreds, of companies tout their expertise in areas such as Document Management, ECM (Enterprise Content Management), RIM (Records and Information Management) and now… Information Governance.

What Is the Difference between Records Management (“RM”) and Information Governance (IG)?

Essentially, Records Management (or Document Management for that matter) is a subset of Information Governance.

Information Governance is an overarching discipline, not a software tool. The purpose of Information Governance is to define all aspects of how information is being managed (the definition, creation, use, security, ownership, and deletion of all organizational data). The purpose of Records Management is to manage parts of that information. Make sense?

I recently read an article by an industry expert using an analogy of the Federal Government and the U.S. Military. “The Military has a very specific and defined jurisdiction for enforcing Government policy and law. It has ultimate planning and execution responsibility for military personnel, but it cannot enforce law on civilians. The Government has responsibility for every law in the country, regardless if it applies to civilians or military. Just as IG has responsibility for all decision making for Information Management, RM has responsibility for enforcing some of the functions on some of the overall Information estate.”

The Scope of Information Governance Includes

  • All sources of data (including Records Management systems)
  • Email servers
  • Archives (PST and data files)
  • Enterprise Content Management libraries
  • Network and local drives
  • SharePoint, cloud service locations, and the like.

Information Governance has 100% responsibility of the information managed by an organization where Records Management comprises less than 20% of that total. Further, Records Management is typically focused on the lifecycle of documents and other unstructured data, whereas Information Governance creates policies that are applicable to both structured and unstructured data.

Additional Discerning Differences

Information Governance typically involves the management of policies, legal hold protocol, laws, cases and business use vs. Records Management operates within the realm of classification and retention schedules.

Information Governance often reports to Security, IT, Legal, HR, Compliance and Operations within an organization vs. Records Management is usually an individual department.

Information Governance typically has Enterprise responsibility to manage data security, storage, disposition, as well as policies for archiving and data protection vs. Records Management’s primary function is to classify, securely store and destroy business records.

The Case for Enterprise Content Management vs. Information Governance

Companies need ECM and IG for different reasons. Companies usually need ECM to automate day-to-day critical business processes such as Accounts Payable and Receivable, Human Resources, and Contract Management. Organizations need Information Governance to manage unstructured data and mitigate risks associated with compliance and data security.

Van Ausdall & Farrar can assist you and your organization sort out where you are in the process by providing a complimentary assessment of your current scenario.

Posted in: Insights from VAF Blog