Gartner defines Information Management as "a method of using technology to collect, process and condense information with a goal of efficient management." Most large enterprises have a central IM function to facilitate this coordination. The primary technologies needed are contained in a set of modeling tools that either have or interface to a production-worthy repository where the information is stored and managed. The repository and tools must be capable of receiving information in a “top-down,” “bottom-up” or “middle-out” evolutionary manner.1
Information management is a broad term that incorporates policies and procedures for centrally managing and sharing information among different individuals, organizations and/or information systems throughout the information life cycle. Information management is generally an enterprise information system concept, where an organization produces, owns and manages a suite of information. The information can be in the form of physical data (such as papers, documents and books), or digital data assets. Information management deals with the level and control of an organization's governance over its information assets. Information management is typically achieved through purpose-built information management systems and by supporting business processes and guidelines. Moreover, IM also focuses on how that information is shared and delivered to various recipients, including individuals and different computing devices such as an organization’s website, computers, servers, applications and/or mobile devices.2
Information management is a corporate responsibility that needs to be addressed and followed from the upper most senior levels of management to the front line worker. Organizations must be held and must hold its employees accountable to capture, manage, store, share, preserve and deliver information appropriately and responsibly. Part of that responsibility lies in training the organization to become familiar with the policies, processes, technologies and best practices in IM. The organizational structure must be capable of managing this information throughout the information lifecycle regardless of source or format (data, paper documents, electronic documents, audio, social business, video, etc.) for delivery through multiple channels that may include cell phones and web interfaces. Given these criteria, we can then say that the focus of IM is the ability of organizations to capture, manage, preserve, store and deliver the right information to the right people at the right time. Information management environments are comprised of legacy information resident in line of business applications, Enterprise Content Management (ECM)
, Electronic Records Management (ERM)
, Business Process Management (BPM)
, Knowledge Management (KM)
, Web Content Management (WCM)
, Document Management (DM)
and Social Media Governance
technology solutions and best practices. Information management requires the adoption and adherence to guiding principles that include:
- Information assets are corporate assets. This principle should be acknowledged or agreed upon across the organization otherwise any business case and support for IM will be weak.
- Information must be made available and shared. Of course not all information is open to anyone, but in principle the sharing of information helps the use and exploitation of corporate knowledge.
- Information the organization needs to keep is managed and retained corporately. In other words the retention and archiving, of information. If you save a document today, you expect it to be secured and still available to you tomorrow.3
It is important to realize that information management only works if its traditional mix of people, process(es) and tools/technologies is right. Too much focus on technology and not enough on people and process is deadly. In a nutshell it’s about people (workers, customers,…) enabled by knowledge and actions through connected processes, working together to achieve a goal using the proper technologies and taking into account the information lifecycle whereby both the end goals (purpose) and intermediate goals drive the decisions on what information is needed where and when, using which systems and processes for which end in mind. (See Figure 1.)4Information management – the mix of people, processes and tools/technologiesFigure 1.
source: i-scoopThe Need for Information Management5
The information that organizations hold is complex and comes from a variety of different sources, for example - customer data from dealing with queries online or over the phone, employee details and contact details for target prospects. Managing this data consistently across multiple departments can be a challenge.A good Information Management Process will enable organizations to recognize the value of their data and identify gaps or problems with data quality. In order to maintain this process, organizations should utilize the correct data quality tools and software to make sure the data they hold and capture is always business relevant. With an effective information Management Process in place you will:
The Importance of Information Management6
- Extract real value from the data you hold as it enables effective data profiling
- Adhere to data regulation and compliance rules and laws (such as GDPR)
- Store data in one central place enabling organisation and easy retrieval for analysis
Information is the life blood of any business or organization, yet most organizations struggle to find what they need, when they need it, and how to manage what they know. Information management is highly related to business strategies, processes and business growth. It is not limited to a single department in the organization or a particular set of employees. Information today includes electronic and physical information. It cuts across all areas of the organization. Information about business strategy, lessons learned, and the corporation’s future plans are very important to ensure business continuity and progress. In the twenty first century organizations should be able to manage this information throughout its life cycle regardless of source or format (data, paper documents, electronic documents, audio, video), for delivery through multiple channels that may include web interfaces and cell phones. Research shows that proper management of in.formation is critical to organizational growth and success. Information management embraces business management concepts of; planning, organizing, structuring, processing, controlling, evaluating and reporting. It deals with the life cycle of an organization’s activities: the creation, acquisition and distribution of information from one or more sources, the ownership, custodianship and the distribution of that information to those who need it, when they need it and in the format that is needed, and finally, its disposition through either archiving and or deletion. It is involves the management of data, technology, information systems, and business processes. Information management training provides insights into the value and concepts of information management and the skills of records inventory, retention scheduling, classification, storage, and in planning and managing a records management program. In today’s Digital age, organizations should be able to get the right information to the right person at the right time with speed and accuracy.Stages in Information Management7
Information Management Process8
- 1. Information Planning: The first stage is to prepare an information management plan, which set out how information will be controlled as part of the project. Typical it will set out the responsibilities for information management, the procedures to be followed and details such as the numbering conventions for documents and drawings. This is one part of the policies and procedures in the project management plan
- 2. Information Capture: Second stage is the information capture which is the PM is responsibility. PM has to be careful while deciding the information that will be captured (i.e. only relevant information to be collected). That is important since any incoming information need time and effort to be formatted, reviewed and analyse. For example, collecting irrelevant information for exiting utilities that are located outside the project area.
- 3. Information Storage: Third stage is information storage. Information comes in various formats either hard copies, emails, audio, video…etc. Electronic storage is commonly used these days as it accommodates the storage of huge sizes of data and enables maintaining backup for the stored data. Stored information need to be properly recorded with version control and in non-editable format. Secured access to be given to project team members to access their relevant data; For example, numerous as-built drawings for the existing utilities in the project site were collected in hard copies. These are scanned and stored on the project server, with copies uploaded on the share point link for respective team members use.
- 4. Information Reporting: PM is responsible for conversion of data into information that is relevant, minimum to achieve objectives, timely and accurate. Once that is achieved, then information can be circulated among the project team to make use of, or can be reported to the sponsor and stakeholders in clear format that they can understand. For example PM is reporting sponsor about relevant information related to an escalated issue.
- 5. Information archiving: One final stage is the information archiving. Information need to be archived for a minimum period of time that should be agreed with the Client. PM should also agree the format in which the data will be archived (i.e. hard copies or soft copies), how often the data will be retrieved especially for hard copy documents and the lead time for retrieving the documents. For example, project as-built drawings and reports are archived in hard copies format in the company store in Dubai. Minimum two working days will be required to retrieve any of the archived data.
The first step in the IM process is to plan IM. The output of this step is the IM strategy or plan. The second step is to perform IM. The outputs of this step are the creation, population and maintenance of one or more information repositories, together with the creation and dissemination of information management reports.Plan Information Management
Issues that should be considered when creating the IM strategy/plan include:
Perform Information Management
- What information has to be managed?
- How long will the information need to be retained?
- Is a system data dictionary is required to be able to "tag" information for ease of search and retrieval?
- Will the media that will be used for the information to be managed be physical, electronic, or both?
- Have a work in progress (WIP) and formally released information already been considered when establishing data repositories?
- What level of configuration control that has to be applied to the information?
- Are there any regulatory requirements relating to the management of information for this project; this could include export control requirements?
- Are there any customer requirements or agreements relating to the management of project information?
- Are there any industry standards relating to the management of project information?
- Are there any organization/enterprise directives, procedures, or standards relating to the management of project information?
- Are there any project directives, procedures, or standards relating to the management of project information?
- Who is allowed access to the information? This could include people working on the project, other members of the organization/enterprise, customers, partners, suppliers and regulatory authorities.
- Are there requirements to protect the information from unauthorized access? This could include intellectual property (IP) rights that have to be respected - for instance if information from suppliers is to be stored and there is the possibility of a supplier gaining access to information belonging to a competitor who is also a supplier for the project.
- What data repository or repositories are to be used?
- Has the volume of information to be stored been considered when selecting repositories?
- Has speed of access and search been considered when selecting repositories?
- If electronic information is to be stored, what file formats are allowed?
- Have requirements been defined to ensure that the information being stored is valid?
- Have requirements been defined to ensure that information is disposed of correctly when it is no longer required to be stored, or when it is no longer valid? For instance, has a review period been defined for each piece of information?
- Life Cycle
- If electronic information is to be stored for a long time, how will it be "future-proofed" – for instance, are neutral file formats available, or will copies of the software that created or used the information be retained?
- Have disaster recovery requirements been considered – e.g., if a server holding electronic information is destroyed, are there back-up copies of the information? Are the back-up copies regularly accessed to show that information recovery is flawless?
- Is there a formal requirement to archive designated information for compliance with legal (including regulatory), audit, and information retention requirements? If so, has an archive and archiving method been defined?
- Some information may not be required to be stored (e.g., the results files for analyses when the information occupies a large volume and can be regenerated by the analysis tool and the input file). However, if the cost to re-generate the information is high, consider doing a cost/benefit analysis for storage versus regeneration.
Issues that should be considered when performing information management include:
Information Management Cycle (See Figure 2.)9
- Is the information valid (is it traceable to the information management strategy/plan and the list of information to be managed)?
- Has the workflow for review and approval of information been defined to transfer information from "work in progress" to "released?"
- Are the correct configuration management requirements being applied to the information? Has the information been baselined?
- Have the correct "tags" been applied to the information to allow for easy search and retrieval?
- Have the correct access rules been applied to the information? Can users access the information that they are permitted to access, and only this information?
- If required, has the information been translated into a neutral file format prior to storage?
- Has a review date been set for assessing the continued validity of the information?
- Has the workflow for review and removal of unwanted, invalid, or unverifiable information (as defined in organization/enterprise policy, project policy, security or intellectual property requirements) been defined?
- Has the information been backed up and has the backup recovery system been tested?
- Has designated information been archived in compliance with legal (including regulatory), audit, and information retention requirements?
- Does the IM system satisfy defined performance requirements - for instance, speed of access, availability, and searchability?
The conceptualization of information management as a cycle of inter-related information activities to be planned for, designed, and coordinated, provides a process-based perspective that complements the more conventional views of information management as information technology management or information resource management. This process view of information management has recently began to gain currency (Davenport 1993; McGee and Prusak 1993). The process model of information management should encompass the entire information value-chain, beginning with the identification of information needs, moving on through information acquisition, organization and storage, products and services, distribution, and closing the cycle with information use (Davenport 1993). Information management frameworks do not always include needs identification and information use. Although needs analysis may be one of the most neglected processes of information management, the quality of the information that the user receives is highly dependent on how well the needs have been communicated. Similarly, information use is an essential component, because understanding how information is used (or not used) to make decisions, solve problems, or interpret situations, is essential to a continuous improvement of the other information management processes.Information Management CycleFigure 2.
source: University of TorontoInformation Management: A Contemporary Portfolio Model for Information (See Figure 3,)10
Andy Bytheway has collected and organised basic tools and techniques for information management in a single volume. At the heart of his view of information management is a portfolio model that takes account of the surging interest in external sources of information and the need to organise un-structured information external so as to make it useful.
This portfolio model organizes issues of internal and external sourcing and management of information, that may be either structured or unstructured. An information portfolio such as this shows how information can be gathered and usefully organised, in four stages:
- Stage 1: Taking advantage of public information: recognize and adopt well-structured external schemes of reference data, such as post codes, weather data, GPS positioning data and travel timetables, exemplified in the personal computing press.
- Stage 2: Tagging the noise on the world wide web: use existing schemes such as post codes and GPS data or more typically by adding “tags”, or construct a formal ontology that provides structure. Shirky provides an overview of these two approaches.
- Stage 3: Sifting and analyzing: in the wider world the generalized ontologies that are under development extend to hundreds of entities and hundreds of relations between them and provide the means to elicit meaning from large volumes of data. Structured data in databases works best when that structure reflects a higher-level information model – an ontology, or an entity-relationship model.
- Stage 4: Structuring and archiving: with the large volume of data available from sources such as the social web and from the miniature telemetry systems used in personal health management, new ways to archive and then trawl data for meaningful information. Map-reduce methods, originating from functional programming, are a more recent way of eliciting information from large archival datasets that is becoming interesting to regular businesses that have very large data resources to work with, but it requires advanced multi-processor resources.
source: WikipediaInformation Management (IM) Vs. Data Management (DM)11
Information Management is an organizational program that manages the people, processes and technology that provide control over the structure, processing, delivery and usage of information required for management and business intelligence purposes. Information, as we know it today, includes both electronic and physical information. The organizational structure must be capable of managing this information throughout its life cycle — regardless of source or format (data, paper documents, electronic documents, audio, video, etc.) for delivery through multiple channels that may include mobile phones and online. Data Management is a subset of Information Management. It comprises all disciplines related to managing data as a valuable, organizational resource. Specifically, it’s the process of creating, obtaining, transforming, sharing, protecting, documenting and preserving data. The official definition provided by DAMA International, the professional organization for those in our data management profession, is: “Data Management is the development, execution and supervision of plans, policies, programs and practices that control, protect and enhance the value of data and information assets throughout their life cycles.” Data Management includes everything from file-naming conventions to policies and practices on creating metadata and documentation for the long-term. Data Management ensures data that underlies an organization is available, accurate, complete and secure. Additionally, it addresses the development and execution of architectures, policies, practices and procedures that manage the full data life cycle.Advantages of Information Management (See Figure 4.)12
An enterprise must embrace IM because it offers various advantages. One of the key requirements of today’s businesses is that they want to eliminate or reduce their dependency on IT; it can be realized through successful implementation of IM. IT, on the other hand, need not run from system to system to give business what they want. With IM, all the information needs can be sourced from one system. It also helps you leverage unstructured data (such as customer complaints in emails, market research study in a document) for effective decision-making purposes. Any IM initiative in the enterprise requires management support in terms of budget, dedication and, more importantly, patience. The reason why patience is cited as support factor is that many of the IM value propositions are intangible. For instance, when the call center agent is provided with an instant access to the customer data, the efficiency of the customer interaction increases. Such benefits cannot be measured directly. IM initiatives cannot be implemented using a single tool or technology. It requires a variety of tools and technologies to implement – which means it demands some big bucks be spent, for which again the management support is essential. Adoption of IM opens up a set of opportunities for enterprises. IM can help business understand its customers, their behaviors and their preferences; thus, it directly gives business an opportunity to serve the customers better and retain them. This will again directly influence the performance of the business and the profit margin. When the business grows, eventually it gets into mergers and acquisitions (M&A;) to tap the new markets; IM can help complete M&A; formalities faster and smoother. The risks involved in not adopting IM in the enterprise are very menacing. Since IM is vital in understanding the customer, not adopting it could potentially mean business is jeopardizing the customers. IM also helps an enterprise standardize the enterprise tools and technologies; thus when not embraced, an enterprise faces the risk of getting into poor vendor management. Regulatory authorities call for highest level of transparency in the business, and the new regulations are often introduced. To make the matter worse, local and global regulations are not always the same. IM with its strong metadata foundation can help an enterprise adhere to changing regulatory requirements. A comprehensive SWOT analysis of why an enterprise should adopt IM is presented in the Figure 4.IM SWOT AnalysisFigure 4.
source: The Data Administration Newsletter
Data/ Information management is the key that enables an enterprise realize numerous business benefits. A CIO research study reveals the following as top business benefits of well-managed and trusted information:
- Improve operational efficiency
- Enable corporate performance management
- Maintain IT cost control and increased revenues
- Improve customer satisfaction
Additional benefits that can be attributed to well-managed information management are:
Information Management Challenges13
- Root-cause analysis and fact-based decision power
- Equip business users with reporting and analysis capability
- Allow ABC analysis to track lost opportunities, or hidden costs
- Realign strategies based on sales/marketing analysis
- Eliminate assumption-based decisions
- Optimize business process and inventory
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. While this can be an overwhelming list, there are practical ways of delivering solutions that work within these limitations and issues. 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.
See AlsoInformation Technology (I.T.)Information Technology (IT) TransformationEnterprise ArchitectureEnterprise Architecture FrameworkDesign & Engineering Methodology for Organizations (DEMO)Information Resource Management (IRM)Strategic VisionEnterprise Information Integration (EII)Enterprise Information Management (EIM)Enterprise Information Security Architecture (EISA)Information System (IS)