Failure to Launch your Information Governance program

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Perhaps a provocative blogpost title, but it likely hits home for a few organizations out there trying to gain traction on their own Information Governance program. Let’s talk about it.

This post shares some observations I’ve made based on my consulting experience with customers in the field who are in the midst of planning, designing, and/or implementing their information governance (IG) and records management(RM) programs in Microsoft 365. Throughout my engagements, I’ve repeatedly observed some common blockers to success. In the most extreme cases, these blockers can jeopardize the success of the overall IG/RM program. In milder cases, these blockers can simply make it challenging to know how to get out of the starting blocks.

Blockers come in many disguises… some technical, some operational, and some human.

Although my consulting experience is 100% Microsoft 365, I suspect these blockers could apply to any underlying tech since the non-tech operational and human side of IG/RM are critical factors for success.

Interestingly, my blockers fall into 1 of 2 extreme buckets… things that are lacking and things we have too much of. For those organizations that have addressed these blockers, hats off to you! For the rest of us, there’s likely improvements to be made…

This is not an authoritative list based on statistics, but is based on “real-world” experience and observations which is authoritative enough I suppose. 🙂

Things that are lacking…

  • Lack of Executive/stakeholder support and direction
  • Lack of urgency to deliver results/improvements
  • Lack of understanding of the value proposition the IG program will provide
  • Lack of Information Governance (human) resources
  • Lack of governance in Active Directory
  • Lack of governance around site/team/group provisioning
  • Lack of collaboration among SharePoint, IG/RM specialists, and IT Admins
  • Lack of understanding of modern workplace complexities as it relates to IG
  • Lack of preparation and training for end-users

Things we have too much of…

  • Over-analysis paralysis
  • Over-complicated retention schedule (not “software-ready”)
  • Over-confidence in the current (manual, legacy) controls
  • Over-optimistic about the compliance (IG) program timeline
  • Over-abundance of content repositories (complex, duplicate content, siloed)
  • Over-retaining by email and document hoarders

My job as a consultant is to dig into these things with customers and help clear a path forward. 🙂

Can you relate to any of these? What’s in your org?

Thanks for reading.



  1. Good post, Joanne. I’d add that a common challenge facing any enterprise initiative like this is organizational complexity and the ability of “the last mile” to configure it for themselves and have administrative isolation.

  2. I would say “All of the above” although that’s not entirely true for us. And I will add “clean up external (SharePoint) access” to the list. We can manage it, but it takes time. Thankfully there are at least some controls for it since a while.

  3. We hit our snag right at the beginning…
    – Lack of Executive/stakeholder support and direction
    – Lack of urgency to deliver results/improvements
    – Lack of understanding of the value proposition the IG program will provide

    Although our CEO backed our initiative, he went on unexpected leave shortly following our kick-off. We do not have a CIO.
    Leadership team expressed interest during workshops, but used back channels to ask for postponement

    We are waiting for an external audit of our IT department in hopes that its recommendations will include information management and governance.

    1. Good luck. It sounds like you’re up against it. External audits have a way of providing urgency though. 🙂

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