Improving information management practices is a key focus for many organizations, across both the public and private sectors.

This is being driven by a range of factors, including a need to improve the efficiency of business processes, the demands of compliance regulations and the desire to deliver new services.

In many cases, ‘information management’ has meant deploying new technology solutions, such as content or document management systems, data warehousing or portal applications. Effective information management is not easy. There are many systems to integrate, a huge range of business needs to meet, and complex organisational (and cultural) issues to address.

Information management is, however, much more than just technology. Equally importantly, it is about the business processes and practices that underpin the creation and use of information.

It is also about the information itself, including the structure of information (‘information architecture’), metadata, content quality, and more.

Management information systems give managers quick access to information. This can include interaction with other decision support systems, information inquiries, cross referencing of external information and potential data mining techniques. These systems can also compare strategic goals with practical decisions, giving managers a sense of how their decisions fit organizational strategy.

The goal of a Information Management system is to provide an organization the ability to capture, manage, preserve, store, secure and deliver the right information, to the right people, at the right time, from a secure source, with optimal accuracy, as quickly as possible and at the lowest reasonable cost.

Information Management treats information as a corporate asset to be valued and managed as any other investment.

Information Management is essential to managing organizations, operations, growth, productivity, efficiency and cost.

Please check my personal professional profile for complete experience and details.

 Benefits of Good Information Management

Get information management right and the benefits are huge:

  • Knowing where all your information is—on desktops, servers, anywhere in the network, any time.
  • Effective management of the spiraling growth of unstructured information-80% to 120% per year.
  •  Reduction of costs associated with managing unstructured information.
  • Improved efficiency and productivity for end users trying to find key information or restore lost data.
  • Increased Information Collaboration-if you can find it, you can share it.
  • Policy support for information management procedures and practices.

 Reduction of frustrating and costly episodes of “missing” files-from CEO to Sale Rep.

  • Reduced litigation exposure/cost, especially involving flawed information retention policies/practices.
  •  Increased regulatory and audit compliance levels and lower cost.
  •  Identification and protection of records needed for business recovery in the event of disaster.
  •  Quicker response to customers’ information-based needs.
  •  Improved business decision making that will drive revenue and market share.Data Quality and Data Governance
  • Technical Monitoring and Managing of data and people
  • Support of business processes and operations
  • Support of decision making by employees and managers
  • Support of strategies for competitive advantage

 Information management therefore encompasses:

  • People
  • Process
  • Technology
  • Content
  • Culture and Organization

Each of these must be addressed if information management projects are to succeed.

 Information management challenges

Organizations are confronted with many information management problems and issues. In many ways, the growth of electronic information (rather than paper) has only worsened these issues over the last decade or two.

Common information management problems include:

  • Large number of disparate information management systems.
  • Little integration or coordination between information systems.
  • Range of legacy systems requiring upgrading or replacement.
  • Direct competition between information management systems.
  • No clear strategic direction for the overall technology environment.
  • Limited and patchy adoption of existing information systems by staff.
  • Poor quality of information, including lack of consistency, duplication, and out-of-date information.
  • Little recognition and support of information management by senior management.
  • Limited resources for deploying, managing or improving information systems.
  • Lack of enterprise-wide definitions for information types and values (no corporate-wide taxonomy).
  • Large number of diverse business needs and issues to be addressed.
  • Lack of clarity around broader organisational strategies and directions.
  • Difficulties in changing working practices and processes of staff.
  • Internal politics impacting on the ability to coordinate activities enterprise-wide.

While this can be an overwhelming list, there are practical ways of delivering solutions that work within these limitations and issues.

 Recommended Milestones and Guiding Policies

Step 1. Set Up an Information Management Design and Implementation Team

  • Establish clear goals, tasks, and schedules as well as a mechanism for communicating with the planning workgroup
  • Inventory skills and knowledge of the team and bring in other expertise as needed
  • Inventory existing information systems to be linked
  • Identify potential users of the information system

Step 2. Survey Planning Partners

  • For each group of users, identify primary responsibilities
  • Document relevant existing databases, maps, or geographic records and their formats
  • Identify data gaps
  • Distinguish  data management, and analytical functions
  • Identify current obstacles to developing an information system and potential solutions
  • Identify potential sources of funding and staff support
  • Identify current or planned projects that could impact implementation of an information system

Step 3. Prioritize Data Needed

  • Prioritize data need
  • Create a schedule for developing or acquiring data

Step 4. Integrate/Relate Existing Data and Develop New Data

  • Develop and formalize data transfer standards and QA/QC protocols
  • Develop and formalize a plan for transferring, relating, integrating, and updating data
  • Evaluate data sources (including quality and compatibility)
  • Choose key database relational fields
  • Determine how database relational fields will be linked
  • Determine how frequently databases will be updated
  • Develop criteria for integrating and relating data (based on the above findings)
  • Develop options that meet the criteria (adequate, good, very good) as well as the strengths, weaknesses, and cost of each option
  • Get feedback on which option is preferred and fundable

Step 5. Evaluate Hardware and Software Configurations

  • Identify existing plans for reconfiguring hardware and software that may impact information system design
  • Determine the priority and sequence of basin planning hardware and software applications
  • Identify existing hardware and software and how they can best be incorporated into the planning information system
  • Evaluate the compatibility of operating systems (for example, transferring data between the PC DOS and workstation UNIX environment)
  • Determine need for exchanging and accessing data (including network speed)
  • Develop criteria for configuring the hardware/software/network
  • Develop options that meet the criteria (adequate, good, very good) as well as the strengths, weaknesses, and cost of each option
  • Get appropriate feedback on which option is preferred and fundable

Step 6. Evaluate Organizational Design, Staffing, and Support Issues

  • Based on preferred hardware/software and database management models, outline information management responsibilities
  • Identify staffing needs (including hiring, reassigning, and training staff)
  • Outline staffing options (adequate, good, very good), as well as the strengths, weaknesses, and cost of each option
  • Get appropriate feedback on which option is preferred and fundable

Step 7. Develop a Short- and Long-Range Implementation Plan

  • Based on Steps 2-6, develop a multi-phased, 5-year plan, including
    • Staffing & Training
    • Hardware
    • Software
    • Application development
    • Data development, conversion, and integration
    • Network/communication
  •  Include realistic funding for each component

Please check my personal professional profile for complete experience and details.