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Ever increasing volumes of data, combined with emerging technologies, challenge the way we cope with this volume and complexity.  In a busy work environment it can be hard to take positive steps to manage information we hold to ensure it contributes value to our business.  Issues to consider:

  • It isn’t so long ago that our world was less connected – the first iPhone launched in 2007   and iPads in 2010. These devices are now commonly used for business and many of us can’t do without them!

    Data is a precious thing

  • The way business is done is also changing as we move towards a “work anywhere” model, BYOD, the Cloud and Activity Based Working.
  • We can guarantee that change is here to stay. But information needs to persist through change.

So it is important to take a long term view, establishing sustainable information systems that work on multiple technology platforms, designing tools that can be used in the technology of tomorrow – whatever it is.

You might identify with different issues depending on your environment.  There is a lot to think about – and taking a strategic approach to managing information as an asset can help us extract value and minimize costs.

Challenges facing organisations

Challenges 1

 

  • Content is generated by a multitude of applications.
  • There are many information formats, then there is social media, not to mention business system data formats.
  • Most organisations we work with now have a proliferation of repositories for information, and having a single repository is unlikely.
  • And a variety of different rules apply to information in different jurisdictions.

Where to start?

The solution isn’t always more technology or software applications.  In many organisations people are not clear on:

  • What information they should keep
  • Where they should keep information

Just providing answers to these two questions can make a big difference.

One relatively simple way to improve processes is to consider is the development of an information asset register as a tool for:

  • understanding what information you have
  • identifying the value of the information
  • how it is managed and
  • where to find it.

Typically an information asset register will provide an overview of what you hold, including this type of information for each item:

  • Asset Name
  • Description
  • Type (e.g. digital file type or format)
  • Custodian/Owner and contact details
  • Access rights and restrictions
  • Date range
  • Frequency of use/change
  • Quality
  • Location (digital or physical)

Knowing what you have promotes collaboration, sharing, potential re-use and good management in line with the value of the information and avoids the cost of re-working or reproducing information that may already exist!

Ok, that’s sorted, so what next?

Now that you know what information assets you have you can take steps to identify and manage information to gain more value from it.  The value good information has to your business might relate to:

  • Good customer service and relationship management
  • Improved decision making
  • Better intelligence gathering from your own information
  • Effective reporting and improved compliance
  • Enhanced business continuity, disaster preparedness and recovery
  • Increased productivity through better search, retrieval, sharing and collaboration
  • Improved business operations.
  • Effective management of risk through implementation of good controls
  • Capacity to provide evidence to support business activities and avoid inappropriate/ illegal action or fraud.
Here are some other activities that might be useful:

  1. Conduct an information management health check, looking at information across your organisation to identify your business requirements or issues.
  2. Develop an action plan for how information can be handled to deliver value.
  3. Establish information management governance processes
  4. Assign clear responsibility and ensure information policies cover all information assets.

Recordkeeping Innovation are records management consultants and experts in development and implementation of information management frameworks for better management and control of information assets.

About the Author

Toni Anderson, Bachelor of Applied Science (Information Studies), Senior Consultant, has substantial experience in the information management in senior roles in both private and public sector organisations, working nationally and internationally.  Toni has conducted many health system checks, provided strategic advice and devised action plans for improved information management.  She has successfully implemented information management frameworks and provided high quality information services in a range of diverse organisations.