Information management seeks to facilitate and encourage the sharing of information within and between organizational functions. Information systems and information technology are implemented to facilitate access to centralized information so why is accessing centralized information difficult?
Information systems and information technology are often marketed as the solution to information management problems. Information technology is able to facilitate controlled location-independent access to the organization’s information resource. However, poor use of information systems and information technology are often the cause of information management problems.
Organizations need to enable staff to access information about corporate strategies, policies and processes. Information systems should be the ideal solution to enable organizations to provide staff with a means to access standard information captured in corporate documents and enable staff to only access the latest version of key documents.
Yet all employees will be familiar with the common question of “where can I find the policy on x?” to which the corporate answer is “on the corporate information system…somewhere.” If the required document is located, staff will inevitably store a local copy of the policy on their own computer if possible to avoid wasting time searching for the information again. Unfortunately this means that next time that they use the information, they will refer to their own copy of the information, which may now be out of date.
So why is it so difficult to locate standard information in corporate information systems?
First, a corporate information system is often purchased as a standard software package that is implemented by the IT department. Sometimes limited attention is given to any options to customize the system to meet the specific needs of the organization.
Second, training is given on how to use the software and not how to use the information system.
Third, as the software is purchased as an information system solution, no prototyping is carried out by the organization before the system is used. There are usually different ways to organize information within the system and prototyping of the different options could be performed to determine how people will use the system to find and retrieve information.
Four, the individual storing the information in the information system will store the information in a way that is intuitive to them (from a top-down perspective). This will often not reflect how someone searching for the information will navigate through the corporate system from a bottom-up perspective.
Five, the driving urgency to install the information system solution and populate the system with information, means that no time is spent with information management professionals planning how to organize the information within the system.
Corporate information systems aim to provide centralized access to the latest information that is needed by staff throughout the organization. However, lack of attention to how the information is organized in such systems often renders the systems unusable, causing more information management problems as staff use multiple copies of out-of-date information. Time needs to be spent focusing on how staff in the organization will search for information in corporate information systems and prototyping different ways of organizing the information. This will ensure that the corporate information system meets the information management needs of the organization, improving information management, rather than being a key source of information management problems.
Further Reading: implementing packaged information systems is discussed in Chapter 12 and indexing information is discussed in Chapter 15.
Please use the following to reference this blog post in your own work:
Cox, S. A., (2014), ‘Accessing Centralized Information’, 22 August 2014, http://www.managinginformation.org/accessing-centralized-information/, [Date accessed: dd:mm:yy]