What is information management
Being able to find, control and optimise your stuff*
*No - not the official explanation but we think it pretty much sums it up, don't you think? Information, as we know it today, includes both electronic and physical information. Management means the organisation of and control over the structure, processing and delivery of information. Information Management is a discipline that enables an organisation to efficiently manage one of its greatest business assets; information. It supports the business by providing a series of tools, processes and systems to ensure that the value of corporate information is identified and exploited to the fullest extent possible.
Information management is not a technology, a solution or a group of policies. An organisation will not have "good information management" simply by installing new software or by defining a set of rules. Oh no, you're not let off that easy my friend.
Information Management: the well-designed house
We often talk to our clients about Information Management as the well considered architecture you use to build your home; without it you will be spending a lot of money, effort and brainpower on a house of cards that falls over in the first strong wind. Your first step is to look around you and decide what environment you are building on; is it beach front or urban, former farm land or the edge of a cliff. Your environmental scan gives you an idea of what the foundations need to look like, after all there is no point building a house if the foundations cant support the structure you need and want to build on.
Once you have assessed the environment you look at the kind of house you want to build, but what is your design ethos; sustainable green home, or party central? This core ethos will inform every design and build decision you make from here on in, the choice of tools and build methods - but also the detailed architecture of the house; open plan or individual boxes; au natural or space age pad. At this point you know what you need to build and the core ethos of how you want to behave and how you want to see the structure built in accordance with your values, your personal ethics and the commitment you are making to your environment.
Building the house
First come the rules; yes let's get out the Building Act, Fire Safety regulations, Resource Management Act etc, the rules are not defined simply for the fun of building officers, they are there to keep you safe. The same rule applies to IM; first you set the rules, you define the boundaries of what can be done inside the organisation. What can be done with personal information, how are you going to keep corporate information assets safe, look after the information that you need to simply run your business, attract new investors, customers, and partners. The policy framework is a core element of your plans and will ideally be in place before you start building, otherwise you run the risk of building something that won't be signed off, and won't be used.
So you understand the rules enough to know that you need a team of people to help you build this house, probably a builder, plumber, joiner, electrician etc. In your IM world, who will be the business owner, who will look after the systems once they are in place, keep them ticking, educate people about what they need to do, look for opportunities for smarter ways of working, help new people get to grips with their new environment, check that the environemnt is working as it should and fixing any problems that come up? Oh, and before we forget - who's going to make sure that we get this work done on time, on budget and with minimum stress levels? Oh yes we probably want a project manager too.
Whew and we havent even laid a slab yet! Well thats kind of the point - if you take the time to plan this out properly you really save yourself time later in the track unpicking what you've already done or having to add new custom bits because you didnt think about J, K and L. Or having to start again because you forgot you were building on swampland and the foundations are kind of moving. Yes, Information Management evolves, it doesn't stay still but the more you understand about what you're trying to achieve the easier it is to actually achieve it. The house you have spent time planning and designing will give you a base for you to add your cool toys; to add the solar panels, the wireless home network, the weather station in order to give you the lifestyle you crave - without these basic foundations you may as well buy yourself a raft and set off to sea.
Building is actually the easy bit, whether you then buy a kit home and have it installed or design and build step by step, once you know what you want and why you want it, the rules you're working too, building is easy.
IM critical success factors
Ok, so we understand that we cant just plug in the shiny box and have all of our problems solved - so where do you start? Well starting the journey is easy, you'll be surprised at how much you already know or how much you have already prepared but you just haven't put it quite in these terms.
1. Understand your environment: Your regulatory, political and business drivers, your organisational culture and corporate objectives.
2. Define your IM Principles: IM is an enterprise opportunity but you need to define the principles of IM that everything else will adhere to; high level - yes - but these are your anchor points.
3. Assessing the current state: Where are you starting from in terms of resources, skills, understanding and maturity, existing toolset, appetite for change, behaviours, risks and opportunities.
4. Identifying the desired state: When you close your eyes and look at your new IM world, what does it look like, philosophically in terms of behaviours and organisational change, outcomes and improvements.
5. Define the framework : With all of this knowledge now accumulated you need to do something useful with it, put together all the pieces in your IM jigsaw puzzle.
6. Ownership: Information Management is an enterprise level opportunity, and it needs enterprise level ownership. Elements of the framework may well be owned by a number of individuals but this has to be coordinated managed and a person/role/or committee must own IM for the organisation
Well this should help you get started so off you go, start looking at the dream home you want to build, ask yourselves and your colleagues the questions we have looked at here and if in doubt - contact the specialists!