7DIG: Information Governance defined

The good news is that it is easy to come up with definitions and frameworks for Information Governance. The bad news is that more definitions mystify than clarify. Let’s demonstrate with a couple, starting with Gartner:

“Information governance is the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to encourage desirable behaviour in the valuation, creation, storage, use, archival and deletion of information. It includes the processes, roles, standards and metrics that ensure the effective and efficient use of information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.

That’s quite a mouthful for two sentences. Is it different from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) draft?

“Information governance is an umbrella term for a collection of distinct but overlapping disciplines. Reference to “information governance” in this policy shall mean reference to the following areas as well:

  • Access to information (Freedom of Information Act 2000 etc)
  • Confidentiality and data protection
  • Information security assurance
  • Information quality assurance
  • Records and document management”

‘I don’t know’ is my only honest answer. But does it matter? Putting Gartner and CQC words together is going to be unintelligible. They cover similar concepts in different ways, hoaned towards their normal client base. They are both correct in concept – but not interchangeable. A solution, worked out in Eurim, is a much simpler definition:

“Information Governance is the setting of Objectives to achieve valuable Outcomes by People using information Assets in a life cycle Process that considers the impact of both Risk and Time.”

Put into a list, just seven words can cover the whole domain:

  1. Objectives
  2. Outcomes
  3. People
  4. Assets
  5. Process
  6. Risk
  7. Time

This list is intended to be ‘Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive’, or MECE. Organisations can write their own guidelines to suit local conditions in a top-down hierarchy. It should not be set in stone; any new requirement, change of law, personnel or technology can be incorporated into a local framework. The easy definition is done; does such a simple set of words help people to adopt an effective, standard, way of working? Quarkside says ‘yes’, reasoning that people can test any issue with seven sets of simple questions:

  1. Why are we doing it and what are the constraints?
  2. What do we expect the benefits to be and how do we measure them?
  3. Who has to do what and who are the beneficiaries?
  4. What are the information assets we have, and are we controlling them?
  5. What is the entire process from inception, validation, storage and deletion?
  6. What are the main risks and what are the plans for reducing them?
  7. When should things happen, and is our level of maturity sufficient?

The questions themselves are not as important as structuring an approach that clarifies, rather than complicates, the issues. It is quality assurance of Information Governance that matters, not the precision of the definitions. Expect more quarks about each of the Seven Dimensions of Information Governance (7DIG). PS:  The choice of seven dimensions was not an accident, see “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two” propounded by Miller.

PPS:  For those who prefer diagrams, here is the 7DIG Framework, including some of the expanded levels.


  1. […] lies in the cultural sub-dimension of ‘People’ in the Quarkside seven dimension information governance model (7DIG).  The acceptance of favours is only part of the problem; it is also the treatment of […]

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  2. […] If the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) study the inter-relationships between departments, agencies and local authorities, then they will surely find a complete lack of a coherent ICT policy.   Each department still seems to have an isolated approach to data management.  Interoperability between systems, or collaboration on shared services, is not on every department’s menu.  They all need a common approach to Information Governance. […]

    Pingback by SRP: DCLG ICT healthcheck « Quarkside — 11/01/2011 @ 10:19 am | Reply

  3. […] much more must be brought together – using standard interoperability processes.  At least, Governance is acknowledged as crossing boundaries.  The plea to use standards is hidden in the small […]

    Pingback by NAO: Messages missed in painful prose. « Quarkside — 07/03/2011 @ 8:51 am | Reply

  4. […] Information Governance (IG) must have Process. The Process must consider IG Objectives, Outcomes, People and Assets.  Theses are the critical first five dimensions of the Seven Dimensional IG ramework (7DIG). […]

    Pingback by IG Process: Due Diligence « Quarkside — 20/10/2011 @ 9:55 am | Reply

  5. […] been covered.  Was the advice MECE?  This led to a Framework, of a kind that Quarkside has used before […]

    Pingback by A Framework for Frameworks « Quarkside — 14/11/2011 @ 4:24 pm | Reply

  6. […] can be applied in the domain of the 7 Dimensional Information Governance framework (7DIG).  The seventh dimension considered, Time, is thus more than a clock and more than planning.  Time […]

    Pingback by IG Time: the spatio-temporal paradigm « Quarkside — 01/12/2011 @ 11:35 am | Reply

  7. […] commissioned an excellent report on Data Quality Management. It has a framework which inspired the 7DIG framework.  A lot of work went into developing the detailed recommendations and supporting software tools. […]

    Pingback by IG Assets: Data Quality and ISO 8000 « Quarkside — 01/12/2011 @ 11:25 pm | Reply

  8. […] Time component of the seven dimensional information governance (7DIG) framework was of little practical interest.  The spatio-temporal paradigm may hold the […]

    Pingback by 7DIG: Time needs more than philosophy « Quarkside — 12/02/2012 @ 10:09 am | Reply

  9. […] to the need for an Identity Trust Matrix will be the subject of future posts, following the 7DIG framework. Share this:ShareTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Leave a […]

    Pingback by 7DIG: Identity Trust Matrix « Quarkside — 12/06/2012 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

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