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8 Information Management Objectives to Benchmark Your Success
The more you know about your business and its performance, the more informed your decision making will be, which will have a direct on impact your organisation’s success. Information management (IM) is integral to every organisation, with various systems used to acquire, distribute, and understand information in order to meet key business objectives. While information management objectives often take low priority and can be difficult to sell, forward-thinking businesses experience significant benefits when they align specific information management objectives with long-term business goals.
Whether you run a small local business or a large multinational enterprise, managing information systems and processes can be a challenging task. While IM is not critical during the start-up phase, ignoring IM can cripple an organisation once it gets past a certain size. Growing businesses face a number of hurdles when it comes to IM, with staff in unrelated disciplines often not understanding IM objectives, and senior executives also struggling to get on board.
In order to ensure relevancy and long-term value, it’s important to position information management objectives as more than a compliance activity. The cycle of involvement with organisational information affects everyone; from people involved in assuring the quality and accessibility of information through to those responsible for storage, security, and decision making. When IM is recognised as essential and information management objectives are met, the benefits become tangible to all stakeholders.
Pam Doyle’s presentation at the AIIM road show in Chicago highlights the importance of developing efficient IM systems. According to Doyle, companies spend $20 USD ($28 AUD) in labour to file a document, $120 USD ($170 AUD) in labour to find a misfiled document, and $220 USD ($312 AUD) in labour to reproduce a lost document. Making investment into effective information management now can save organisations time, money, and resources for years to come.
The Components of Information Management
Information management has four main components; 1) people, 2) policies and processes, 3) technology, and 4) data and information. Each of these components needs to work together to ensure efficient and effective business outcomes.
It doesn’t matter how data-intensive a business is, people are always at the heart of an organisation. From the staff directly involved in information management through to the creators and users of information, all information systems depend to an extent on human involvement, as do day-to-day operations.
Building, nurturing and investing in your team’s capabilities and performance is the best way to grow organisation’s information management skills. Organisational accountability and capacity need to be addressed at a human level, with successful IM culture teaching people how to recognise and manage information processes and systems as critical assets in order to drive success.
Policies and processes
The policies and processes that define information management are also integral. Implementing an IM framework will determine accessibility to information, storage procedures and information security, along with time frames for archiving or deleting data. A well defined and regularly reinforced framework will help to drive information and records management best practices in order to achieve strategic business outcomes.
Technology also plays an important role and can become an obstacle to effective information management in organisations. As the number of applications available to businesses continues to grow, especially when using a suite like Office 365, a framework will help to define how and where information should be stored, accessed and used. Effective technology and line-of-business applications will enable information discovery when required and support information sharing, integration, and analysis throughout the information cycle.
Data and information
While it might go without saying, data and information themselves also play a critical role in information management. Data and information along with people, policies, and technology, all contribute to effective utilisation of an organisation’s intellectual property. Well-defined, strategic information management objectives can have a direct and lasting impact on achieving business objectives.
Information Management Objectives
The success of your IM program can be measured against to eight key information management objectives, from data accessibility and value considerations through to security, compliance, and collaboration. While each enterprise has different requirements from its information, the same key information management objectives can be defined across sectors and industries.
Objective 1: Organising information so it’s easy to find and utilise
Information architecture (IA) is the structure of information within an organisation and is what information management relies on to ensure efficient information security, findability, usability and interpretation. According to the Information Architecture Institute, IA is about “the practice of deciding how to arrange the parts of something to be understandable.” Information architecture is everywhere; in websites we access, the apps and software we use, the printed materials we read, and even the physical places in which we spend time.
The structural design of digital environments affects every aspect of business operations. Effective information architecture will empower and aid business decision making, support and enhance business operations, and be flexible enough to change alongside evolving business requirements.
Objective 2: Protecting and securing enterprise information
Effectual IM is also dependent upon on the protection of information, which overlaps somewhat with IT and has important implications for data and information privacy, security, cyber security, and the decommissioning and archiving of old technology.
Enterprises in Australia have an obligation to protect their sensitive information, especially personal indefinable information (PII), and are required to comply with relevant laws and regulations such as the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) Scheme introduced to Australia in 2018. Under this scheme, all individuals affected by a data breach are required to be notified by the organisation who was breached. Having a response and remediation plan in place in case of a breach is absolutely critical, with organisations needing to protect against cyberattacks, accidental breaches and unauthorised access of information. According to cross-industry studies, more than 70 per cent of employees have access to data they should not.
The decommissioning and careful archiving of old technology is also important, as it often contains sensitive information that could be poorly secured and preserved after it’s no longer in use.
Objective 3: Maximising the value of organisational information
In their 2012 feature on big data, Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson describe the opportunities provided by focusing on information value. According to the report, “companies in the top third of their industry, in the use of data-driven decision making were, on average, 5 per cent more productive and 6 per cent more profitable than their competitors”.
Objective 4: Managing and mitigating operational risk
Like other areas of a business, an effective information management strategy will identify, assess, evaluate and mitigate risks. Businesses face numerous IM related risks every day, including non-compliance to regulatory recordkeeping requirements, unauthorised data destruction, cyberattacks, data breaches, and lost or leaked intellectual property (IP) or other valuable information. Depending on the business and industry sector, there may also be risks associated with the inability to find information related to a legal proceeding or Freedom of Information (FOI) request.
According to data from The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, Australians were targeted in more than 300 major data breaches during the first six months of 2018 alone, impacting millions, and these stats continue to grow in 2019.
Objective 5: Ensuring regulatory and legislative compliance
Business information is subject to regulations and legislation governing how it should be collected, managed, used, and disposed of. Consider the GDPR policy or Australia’s Spam Act 2003. The obligation of maintaining records is a part of every modern business, regardless of size or industry—consider tax filings, employment records and financial records. To what degree recordkeeping is required depends on the industry. Government organisations have an even greater responsibility as they serve the public. Non-compliance poses a significant risk to organisations that needs to be addressed in order to avoid legal, financial and PR ramifications.
In order to minimise risk, it’s critical to understand the various policies and legislation affecting your business, which often covers a lot of ground.
Objective 6: Effectively managing the lifecycle of information assets
An information management strategy provides the framework, policies, procedures, and processes to manage information throughout its lifecycle. It considers the people, processes and technologies required to help to protect, manage and extend the value and usefulness of information. Lifecycle management focuses on developing a better understanding of how information is created, managed and used within an organisation, and looks for ways to reduce inefficiencies and prioritise usefulness over time.
Objective 7: Promoting and supporting collaboration both internally and externally
Collaboration, communication, and information sharing have become vital to modern enterprises, especially in organisations where the workforce is spread-out, work remotely or on-the-go. The ongoing evolution of the Internet has led to the proliferation of networks and technological solutions that promote collaboration. Cloud-based software packages, like Office 365, have become ubiquitous in the modern workplace, providing collaborative tools such as Microsoft Teams, Yammer and SharePoint.
Promoting and supporting collaboration depends on flexible technology platforms that enhance the flow of information, along with the application of policies and frameworks that outline how employees, customers and partners should collaborate. According to findings from Harris Interactive Knowledge Worker Survey, 83 per cent of those surveyed lose or waste time each day on document collaboration issues.
Objective 8: Enabling business process automation through data integration
A substantial benefit of implementing an effective information management program organisationally is the increased opportunities for business process automation, which is enabled by the provision of consistent and high quality data across business applications. Cross system business automation processes can be more easily developed using published API’s and Web Services made available through increased data interoperability. This presents opportunities for businesses to utilise Citizen Developers to create loosely coupled but integrated business solutions without the need for costly specialist programmers, coding or tools.
In addition to your people, information is your organisation’s most valuable asset. Investment into a sound information management strategy will help to ensure operational efficiency, regulatory compliance, informed business decision making and risk mitigation. Understanding these information management objectives will equip organisations with an understanding of why IM is so crucial to operations, and should therefore be a priority when it comes to investment of resources.
Many forward-thinking enterprises enlist an information management specialist to help develop a robust strategy and governance framework to support business objectives. If your organisation could benefit from advice in this critical area, please get in touch with our team of consultants.
John Whitehead LLB (Hons)
Senior Business Consultant
John has worked in the Information Management industry at a senior level for over twenty years and brings his wide-ranging technical, commercial and management skills to each project. He is client focussed and has a proven track record of providing Information Management solutions that deliver significant business value to his clients.
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