Sure, we’d all like it to be wouldn’t we? Our users saving into the right folder, tagging their files and cleaning up their trash. Then again, maybe not – frankly, I can’t think of an information professional who believes that users really should take on the responsibility for managing ‘their’ content/data/information in the way the organization needs them to. However, most of those people have resigned themselves to the view that it is the exceptional user who can see beyond their personal Outlook folder structure, a cloud stash of files in dropbox or (old school) a well-stuffed My Documents folder.

stressed woman with computer

That doesn’t mean that user education or, say, designing information systems for users isn’t important; instead it means that any strategy that makes governance a user problem is (frankly) asking for trouble. Its this corporate reality that makes file analysis technologies and techniques so important to any meaningful information governance or management strategy. In deploying technologies like file analysis, what an organization is doing is planning for the reality that users will not file documents where policy says they need to be, or tag them with retention categories. By investing in this way, business leaders empower their information professionals to backstop user behaviours and deal with information issues before they become a governance problem. This isn’t a defeatist approach; instead its realistic and, what’s more, file analysis provides ground truth about what content is really present, where and in what state so that user behaviors and information quality can be tracked, measured and consistently acted upon..

“…institutions in both the private and public sectors make the prospect of compliance easier by employing automated solutions to manage, preserve and classify information.” Solving the email management crisis Jason R. Baron Of Counsel in the Information Governance and eDiscovery Group at Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP

For us, the message is clear. Organizations should take a realistic approach to their governance and give their users a break. Users should still be informed and educated on how information should be managed and what behaviors are important but the key is not to rely on users to ‘do’ governance; instead, invest in technologies that automate processes and empower information professionals so that users can get on with their day job.