When discussions about developing a roadmap for enterprise information management come to the boardroom, they’re often accompanied by looks of concern and confusion. That’s because it’s one of those discussions that isn’t yet commonplace in corporate governance. Terms like data management, data policies and data security are unfamiliar terms for a lot of people. Because many don’t know how to define the terms, they’re not exactly sure how to develop a conversation around them.

Developing a roadmap for enterprise information management means different things to different people. Unfortunately, there’s no universal philosophy over what it is, although a few experts have taken some great stabs at the definition. Enterprise information management has been gaining momentum in certain circles, but it’s still a fairly new concept.

Defining Enterprise Information Management

Michael Jennings is the Senior Director for Walgreens and one of the leading experts in enterprise information management. Jennings favors the Data Management Association International (DAMA) definition of enterprise information management, which is “the framework of interdependent disciplines required to turn data into consistent and accurate information to be fully leveraged across the organizations, by business and technology users, to improve an organization’s performance.”

EIMInstitute.org favors a slightly different definition. “Enterprise Information Management (EIM) is the set of business processes, disciplines and practices used to manage the information created from an organization’s data as an enterprise asset. EIM functions ensure that high-quality information is available, protected, controlled and effectively leveraged to meet the knowledge needs of all enterprise stakeholders, in support of the enterprise mission.”

In a nutshell, enterprise information management is more than a term or an element of something greater. It’s a framework of practices that manage information across the scope of an enterprise. Its purpose allows those who need to access the highest quality of information in order to make more informed, efficient and effective business decisions.

What Is Data Management and Why Is It Important? 

Data management is sometimes called information management. Many components go into data management, including:

  • Defining the quality of data metrics
  • Analyzing and profiling the quality of data
  • Auditing and certifying the levels of data quality
  • Cleansing data on the front and back ends
  • Identifying requirements for data quality
  • Meeting source system requirements

An important part of enterprise information management is developing data management policies. Policy statements should encompass such issues as data governance, stewardship, architecture of data, data storage, cycles of data (including lifecycles), installation, administration, support and any other policies that support the EIM. Take a look at this link for some examples of data policy statements.

A discussion about EIM wouldn’t be complete without considering the topic of data management security. Data management security is especially important considering the number of data breaches that have recently come to light. EIM experts recommend establishing rules, protocols, procedures and audits with various levels of security at prime junctures of the enterprise information management system.

Customization Is an Important Concept in EIM

Customization is an important concept in enterprise information management, which is another one of those things that complicate it. The framework will be as individual as each corporation. The challenge comes in developing a customized roadmap that reflects the organization’s business, political and cultural requirements.

One of the other significant challenges in developing enterprise information management is getting the proper amount of executive and leadership support. Every corporation has a different level of maturity as it pertains to EIM, which makes it easier to develop in some businesses than others.

Creating the Overall Pattern for Enterprise Information Management

It helps to do a little forethought before you get into the nitty-gritty of actually developing EIM. Gather a team and decide on the definition and scope of the plan. Assess the maturity level of the organization and determine whether the organization as a whole is in the nonexistent stage, the developing stage, starting implementation or somewhere in between. Take a step back and make sure that the strategy aligns with the overall vision of the company. At this point, your team should be ready for some specific steps in designing your roadmap.

Just as a road engineer uses tools and assessments to turn a rugged piece of land into a smooth highway that has a solid direction, there’s an overall pattern of developing a roadmap for EIM.

The first step is to develop a clear understanding of the business, including quantifiable objectives. This will entail asking questions about functional needs, business processes and cycles, current organization processes, cost implications and accessibility of assets.

The next step is to define the desired end state. What do you hope things will look like when the road is finished? This part of the process should include looking at things like cash flow, profitability, velocity, growth and the strength of your customer base. How do these existing things follow the business’ guiding principles?

If your team has built this portion of the road well, the highway should be primed and ready to conduct a gap analysis. This is the point where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. It’s the point where you should easily be able to see the difference between where you are and where you want to be. Where are the gaps in the organization, function, technology, processes, economic incentives or other things? Do the executives know what’s going on in the warehouse? Do the mailroom employees know what the company’s vision is?

The next logical step is to set some priorities. Rank the areas that have relative business value and the technical complexity of rearranging priorities. Put your heads together and discover the optimum sequence. Some things will need to occur before others can take place. Try to determine if the organization will be accepting of change. If not, your plan may take a bit longer to get everyone up to speed on the new route. Finally, you’re ready to develop and publish the roadmap.

Final Steps in Enterprise Information Management Planning

Roads may look great on a map, but they’re of no use if no one travels them. Unless the corporation is mature regarding data systems, people throughout the enterprise will be unfamiliar with the premise behind it and the common terms that describe it. There’s bound to be a learning curve for many corporations. That doesn’t mean you should give up before you begin. Consider trying a pilot program and see how that goes over.  Another approach is to promote and communicate the effort using many different venues and formats from the lowest-level employees to the C-suite. In time, everyone will catch on, and maybe even begin to like the idea.