Principle #1: Information has an owner

Information has an owner

This is a first blog of a series regarding Information Management principles: Information has an owner. Although all principles are important this one is really important and sometimes also very difficult to implement.

The principle implies that an organisation assigns information ownership to the appropriate function within the organisation. The organisation needs to provide sufficient budget, resources and education to the owner. The organisation also needs to provide priority for this responsibility as part of job descriptions and performance reviews. Furthermore the organisation needs to ensure that transfer of ownership is managed for information that changes ownership due to the business process.

The information owner should have the following accountabilities:

  • Ensure information is available, accurate, kept up to date and complete
  • Ensure information is distributed to the right persons
  • Ensure the legal context is adhered to
  • Keep information aligned with the current and future needs of the audience
  • Keep current with the legal requirements and act accordingly

The information owner, in general, is not the person to actually create and manage the information itself. This responsibility is typically delegated to one or more co-workers within the organisation.

Without an owner it is very difficult to address issues with the information and also to remediate the issues.

According to AIIM Whitepaper: “Valuable Content or ROT: Who Decides?” the information owner can be unknown for more than 30% of the surveyed organisations. Furthermore IT often compensates for the lack of business ownership. However IT does not know the value of information and the legal requirements towards the information. This may result in unnecessary retention of information, information being disclosed, not being accessible or even unintentional destruction.