Why document governance matters

Nov. 1, 2022
Document protection is a critical business management strategy as proprietary organizational information becomes increasingly valuable

As today’s enterprises settle into a digital-first environment - also known as the “digital HQ” - both the amount and definition of content are expanding. Recent research from Templafy revealed that in addition to traditional marketing materials like presentations and eBooks, today’s employees consider productivity assets (35%) and classification and metadata (32%) to be business content as well. And all of this information – whether it’s a final presentation or the metadata within it – needs to be managed by a document governance system within enterprises.

Every document your company creates, from templates to emails to pitch decks to contracts, is a critical business asset. And regardless of the type of document, they often contain information that needs to be governed and protected. Enterprises operating in the digital HQ are managing more proprietary information than ever before, and as a result, companies must develop privacy and security strategies to protect their digital assets. 

In fact, Templafy’s research found that 88% of respondents said privacy and security requirements are increasing and believe upholding strict requirements is more important than ever before. To keep up with these demands within the future of work, businesses urgently need modern document governance solutions to keep document classification aligned to changes in documents’ value, sensitivity and criticality throughout its life cycle and prevent data leaks while ensuring regulatory compliance.

The Problem with Classification Today

Document mapping and classification can be defined as grouping documents based on the level of sensitivity in a file’s content. For example, your company may classify any piece of collateral containing financial information as “confidential.” Right now, most enterprises rely on internal training and manual classification to ensure content is correctly labeled. Companies spend millions of dollars training their staff on how to responsibly work with data and document information, but this approach is not scalable in the digital HQ. 

Chief Information Security Officers and teams work tirelessly to outline and update company policies surrounding how different types of information should be classified. Classification information can take up hundreds of pages detailing what employees can and cannot do with certain documents and information, but as the definition of content expands and more privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA are implemented, these policies get longer and more complex. It is no longer feasible to expect employees to read, understand, and remember all of these requirements. Enterprises with poor classification practices leave the door open for legal and financial consequences and make data breaches from simple internal mistakes as dangerous as those from external hackers.

Poor Document Governance by the Numbers 

To contextualize the problem with the current status quo of manual classification and monitoring, let’s dive into some of Templafy’s recent research data. Over half of respondents to the survey confessed their company has mistakenly shared a sensitive document with an unauthorized party. Why is this? 59% claim their company lacks secure, system-wide alignment when it comes to content, and 41% said their company urgently needs a better system to support mandatory document sensitivity classification.

When it comes to metadata, businesses are floundering. 61% of respondents said a lack of control over metadata and classification poses a significant financial risk, while half of the respondents said the same for business and brand risk. Other potential consequences here include damage to reputation (55%), legal fees (51%), legal ramifications (50%), loss of revenue (50%), and a loss of customer trust (45%). 

Not only does poor document governance add security and compliance risk - but it can also hurt an organization’s brand. Without a system governing document, employees can use any pieces of content they deem fit – even if it’s a logo from two rebrands ago. This is a major problem, as 62% of respondents said their company struggles with backward compatibility (i.e., making sure materials and templates in use are routinely updated with the latest information). So, when enterprises update their branding due to a merger, acquisition, or rebrand, it is extremely difficult to ensure those updates are reflected across all existing collateral. 

If the potential for regulatory infringements doesn’t seem immediate enough for your business, poor document governance can also have significant consequences for your bottom line: 82% of panelists said inaccurate or outdated information in content can harm sales, and this is a woefully common issue. Seventy percent said their team often pulls outdated information into sales pitches and content, and 56% said they believe sales materials make it to prospects with outdated information more than half the time. 

Next Gen Enterprises Need Next Gen Solutions 

If your business has invested in document governance technology, congratulations. You’ve taken the first step towards ensuring your proprietary/personal/confidential information is safe and secure. But not all solutions are created equal, and the majority of tools on the market today don’t solve the whole problem. 

For example, some platforms use AI to scan your documents for violations after they’re created, meaning creators don’t know until after the fact whether their documents should be public or confidential. While this may have been sufficient before the digital HQ took hold, it certainly leaves much to be desired, as these types of docs gov tools do not catch every single incident of mis- or non-classification. 

For a holistic treatment, enterprises need tools that automatically classify content at the point of creation. These solutions allow CISOs to define and input company classification policies upon implementation and then make sure these policies are directly implemented in all employee content. Once the policies are implemented into the technology, it automatically classifies documents as soon as they’re created based, so employees don’t have to memorize anything. Next-gen document governance tools can also instantly update classification depending on what type of information is added to a document; for example, if your company policy lists employee images as personal data with specific retention policies to apply, adding an image into a public document will automatically trigger that document’s reclassification and update the document’s metadata about retention. 

These tools also make updating branding and policies across all existing and future collateral seamless, so enterprises know that when their document’s requirements change, employees receive the change instantly and are using the latest policies. What’s more, automating document governance helps ensure consistent disclaimers, trademark/IP information and other legally required components such as retention policies, eliminating the risk of falling out of regulatory compliance. 

Document governance lets your company take back control over privacy and security standards and all employee collateral, helping you get the utmost value out of your business content. To succeed in an increasingly digital business world, enterprises must arm themselves with scalable best practices when it comes to document governance. By taking the risk and guesswork out of content creation, business leaders can streamline the creation process and boost their bottom line. 

About the author: Ellen Benaim is the Chief Information Security Officer at Templafy, a leading next-gen document generation platform. As CISO, Ellen has developed Templafy’s security-first approach and oversees company-wide information security and governance programs to ensure the organization follows all necessary protocols. Ellen started her career as technical support at Templafy, quickly attained the role of Information Security Officer due to her merit and was promoted to Chief Information Security Officer in March of 2020. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems from University College Cork.