Driving down to Cardiff at the weekend, UK highway signs seemed to provide a perfect illustration of how vital governance is in connecting users with information.

The UK taxpayer has spent tens of millions to install illuminated signs along the highway network. It’s easy to imagine the business case. Providing this platform for real-time information to drivers would reduce accidents by slowing traffic ahead of incidents, cut congestion by easing flow rates, and allow intelligent diversions…

But actually it’s pretty much a waste of money – because the information delivered to drivers is unreliable. Most often, it’s out of date. It displays warnings and speed limits that were appropriate hours earlier. The net result is that drivers don’t trust it, and only vaguely obey it.

The missing ingredient is governance. Without governance, drivers can’t rely on the information presented. It’s not a reliable source so it’s ignored.

Highway signs are a very simple platform for information distribution – and yet content governance can make the difference between success and failure.

Within the enterprise, content governance is also a critical determinant of success. Any platform for process management needs governance baked-in. Everyone – process owners, other stakeholders, end users – must trust the information they are using. Effective collaboration on performance improvement relies upon a single source of truth.

I know this sounds a bit basic, and should hardly need saying. But I am amazed by how often governance is still being ignored, or treated as a nice-to-have.

Reality for most organizations is that they have a myriad of process fragments in a variety of formats, unconnected and ungoverned. There is a view that getting them into one format, and connected into one holistic view of the enterprise, is sufficient. But without a governance framework that is robust but also easy-to-use, that would be investment in an enterprise process management platform that is about as useful as a highway sign telling me at 10am in the morning: “Think. Don’t Drink and Drive.”