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Simplify for Success - Conversation with Jessica Marlette


Jessica Marlette, who serves as the Information Governance Counsel at White & Case, was on Simplify for Success, a podcast series presented by Meru Data and hosted by Priya Keshav to discuss IG programs.


Apart from advising on best practices, policies, and procedures, Jessica also leads the Content Governance team at the firm.


She spoke about the intersection of privacy, security and records management and the importance of cross-collaboration in the IG process.










Listen to the podcast here:

*Views and opinions expressed by guests do not necessarily reflect the view of Meru Data.*


Transcript:


Priya Keshav

Hello everyone, welcome to our podcast around simplifying for success. Simplification requires discipline and clarity of thought. This is not often easy in today's rapid-paced work environment. We have invited a few colleagues in data and information governance space to share their strategies and approaches for simplification.

Today we will be talking with Jessica Marlette. Hi Jessica, welcome to the show.


Jessica Marlette

Hi Priya, thank you for having me.


Priya Keshav

So, Jessica, what do you do for White & Case?

Jessica Marlette

That's a great question. I wear a lot of hats. I've been with White & Case for a little over six years.


I think by about 6 and 1/2 years I started out in a traditional knowledge management role and have evolved over the years into information governance and I'm now serving as Information Governance Council for the firm.


In addition to advising on best practices, policies and procedures for the firm, I'm also leading a content governance team that's responsible for our primary know-how repositories so still wearing the KM hat with the IG on top of it.

Priya Keshav

So, as you know, IG being responsible for the IG at the firm. IG is at the intersection of privacy, security and records management.


What role does cross-collaboration play in supporting your IG initiatives?

Jessica Marlette

Great question. I actually just recently did an ARMA webinar on this topic, so the timing is kind of perfect.


I think you know IG is really it's the intersection, right? It's the foundation. You can't comply with privacy if you don't know what you have and where it's at, and you can’t, protect yourself. You're open to more security threats. The more stuff that you have and don't get rid of when you're legally able to dispose of it.


So, I think it's imperative for any organization that all three are collaborating on a regular basis to protect the organization, whether it's a law firm or otherwise. And I think it's important that organization’s road map means to have these three areas aligned and in sync because they need to move forward together. You really can't do one without the other. And honestly, it really helps IG as a whole because it does take a village and so when privacy, security and IG are regularly communicating, it's just more champions that you have and people that can raise their hand and say hey there might be an issue over here that we didn't think about. So, I think it's really important that those three continue to align.

Priya Keshav

So, have you had challenges with cross-collaboration, though? If so, any tips on how to overcome some of those challenges from your, you know, examples of working together?

Jessica Marlette

Yeah. I mean, I think getting to the point of collaboration is key. So sometimes these three responsibilities may sit in different pockets within an organization and so it's bringing people together where your overall remit may be a little different and your scope of, you know, priorities might be different, and so that can be a challenge. Once you get through that hurdle, it’s harder, I think, to work through all of these moving parts. You know, IG, I think initially was really kind of records focused, and obviously, it's evolved so much over the years and you don't necessarily have to be a privacy expert or security expert when you're working in IG, but you do have to have at least a fundamental understanding of those.


So that's more time out of your day, right to think through those issues, to understand those nuances and how they intersect. And I think similarly for privacy and security because IG is at its core now, those team members are needing to understand a little more of what we do. So you know on the journey it's a little bit more challenging and a little bit more time-consuming, but in the end, it's moving towards something great.

Priya Keshav

So, you brought up some examples of maybe your priorities are not aligned and these may not be the best examples, but any examples that you can share from your journey of working with both privacy and security, and together in solving information governance challenges on how you have simplified to succeed.

Jessica Marlette

Not specifically with those three, I think I have maybe some other examples of simplifying to succeed, but not specifically with those.

Priya Keshav

Yeah, go ahead.

Share examples please.

Jessica Marlette

Alright, so I think simplifying it is a must, right? We have to keep it simple. If we don't, people are going to go rogue so there is a little bit of overplay there I think with security, but if you don't make it simple, they're going to go rogue. They're going to find a way to get to simpler and then you'll have a return to the Wild West that we all in IG dread.


So, I think it's just important to be empathetic. We really need to understand the impact of what we're asking people to do. We think of all these, I mean just for you personally. If you think of all the different administrative tasks that you might be asked to do throughout any given day, and your frustration level, when you're super busy that you're being asked us to do something that seems so not significant in the grand scheme. Those things add up right? Because I might say OK well from IG, I'm only asking you to do these five simple things, but then you've got finance asking the same person to do these five simple things and then marketing to ask them to do those five simple things. And it adds up to a lot of time, inefficiency, concerns, so on and so forth. So, I think it's just really important, you know, to look at things like, okay you might be using a SharePoint form, for a submission or a request from a user and just automate it as much as possible.


It can be something that simple, don't ask them their name and what office they're in. You have other systems that should know that information, so pull it in and don't ask them to fill it in. You might say, well it's only one field, or it's only two fields, but I think it's really important to kind of take that step back and think about that one or two fields in relation to everything else that someone being asked to do throughout their day.

Priya Keshav

You brought up a very good point. So how do you leverage technology to solve some of these problems? So, when you're expecting them to do all these administrative tasks on a regular basis, how can we automate and how has technology helped you automate your programs?

Jessica Marlette

So, I think you know, I think AI and automation has a lot of power. I don't know that we're right where we need to be yet again, I think it's still a journey to getting there, but I do think the power of it's really exciting because, you know, if we have all this data that we're collecting right, for better or for worse, depending on who you're talking to. If you can leverage that and make people's lives simpler, it's better. So, you know, one example is we're currently looking at technology for client information governance requests or cigars. The term that we coined with the law firm Information Governance Symposium, but essentially when we get the engagement letters and outside counsel guidelines, there are a lot of different provisions in there from billing to information governance to security and so taking on this system, the technology adds a lot of benefits from a problem-solving perspective.

It's centralizing all of these. It has some AI power in which it can analyze the provisions. It streamlines process because it can help push the relevant provisions to the relevant teams for review to determine whether it's the provision we can comply with. But then you can take it one step further in terms of simplifying and saying OK getting lawyers and matter teams to understand what clients requirements are can be a challenge, right? This is part of a broader awareness challenge that we have within information governance as a whole. So how can we get that information to these teams if you're using a technology right like that and you have an internet, right? So, you can take it one step further and push that information to your matter teams on your Internet so that right up front no matter who it is on the matter team, and they know exactly what the billing requirements are for that client or how long they need to be keeping records for, so on and so forth.

Priya Keshav

Makes sense, so what are some of the biggest challenges that you face and how have you overcome some of these challenges?

Jessica Marlette

Alright, so I think one of the biggest challenges as I was speaking to before is really about awareness. It boils down to how do you get to add glitz and glam to information governance and that can be difficult when you don't necessarily have shiny tools. You need to focus on what's in it for me that's not always easy to find the sugar, to overcome the sour with the sour being, you know, I need you to take these actions to store information in the right places and in the right ways to ensure compliance with a variety of laws and regulations and client requirements.


So, I wrote this article a few months ago talking about the need to move from this piecemeal proactivity to habitual proactivity, and it really needs to be as simple as tying your shoes, right? You shouldn't have to think about where do I need to store this document. It should be like email filing where it's predictive, and it's a very simple step to take, and that's ideally where we need to get to, it just needs to be a habit that people have that I have this document and I need to put it in X or in Y, and it shouldn't be something that takes a lot of time or that I have to really think about. Or, you know, I need a checklist to remember to do it just needs to be ingrained.


So, and to do that is not easy, and I think it's why it's often a topic at like every IG conference and often on webinars because it just needs to be repeated over and over and over. You need to get your champions, you need to just keep ingraining it throughout your entire organization until you have that culture of proactive IG habits.

So, we started three years ago an information governance awareness campaign, and each year we try to build off the previous year, we just keep trying to flood as much as we can flood users with messages about proper information governance in as many different formats and avenues as we can until we get to Nirvana.

Priya Keshav

That makes sense, and it kind of leads me to my next question, which is, you said every year you provide them with guidance and you flood them with information governance-related training and you hope with that, you know, it becomes more of, I guess normal day-to-day as opposed to something that I have to do on a daily basis that is being imposed on me.


So how do you measure though if your programs are working and that you’re moving in the right direction. So, in other words, how do you use metrics in your program and how has it helped inform your program?

Jessica Marlette

Yes so. With respect to training and awareness, usage metrics are key so we can, look and see if people are using the document management system or if they're using other locations if they're, you know, not using the DMS, for example, then that enables us to, you know, go look further and kind of see well where are you putting your stuff? And so it allows us to do targeted communications or targeted trainings if we need to. So it's been really helpful in that regard, and then I think also it helps you just from a compliance perspective as well. So just keeping track on monitoring and seeing what people are doing.


And if you see an entire group that is not using the approved repository and it allows you to speak to them and ask questions because you might have overlooked something, listening is really key and it may be a training gap, but there also might be a functionality that's missing that maybe needs to be addressed as part of the organizations long term road map and if you don't have that insight into what people are doing because it's impossible to be in the room with everyone, then you're not going to be able to effectively plan for the future.

Priya Keshav

Are there other metrics that you rely upon regularly beyond just the training and awareness metrics that helps you or usage metrics that helps you inform your program?

Jessica Marlette

There's a number of different metrics I think that the teams use across the board. We moved from unstructured shares to structured shares and we used a product that looked at activity on those shares to determine which groups to target first in terms of data migration. So we've used it in that way. We know there's different metrics being used for like data loss prevention and things along those lines as well.

Priya Keshav

Any other closing thoughts that you may have?


Jessica Marlette

I think going back to metrics actually there was one that we tried a couple years ago and I think it's worth revisiting when we get to some sort of new state post-COVID, we'd actually done as part of an awareness campaign. A Bigfoot Initiative essentially. So, we used metrics to see what the data sizes were for different users in the firm, and then had, and I think this goes to like creativity and trying to get people’s attention right. It was around, you know how much data do you have and how much are you costing, right? ‘Cause if you're talking to partners, money can be pretty impactful and so it helped put some visualization to what people are doing day to day and they don't always necessarily understand the volume of the data that they're working with.


So, I think when you're building these awareness campaigns, it's important to just kind of think outside the box and come up with creative ways to capture attention. Then that was one that we did that got a lot of attention.

Priya Keshav

Makes sense. Some really good insights. Thank you for your time, Jessica.

Jessica Marlette

Thank you.

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