Everyone agrees that organizations need an information management strategy but how do you develop one? This blog focuses on the key stages of work required to develop an information management strategy.
Stage 1: Gain Senior Management Commitment
Resources are needed to develop an information management strategy and the only way to gain access to the resources that you need is by gaining the commitment of senior management in the organization. This has to be real commitment and not just a general nod of encouragement. Effective information management is essential for the organization but investment is required in order to develop an information management strategy. This will involve diverting resources from other critical operational areas of the organization.
The activities to develop an information management strategy will involve temporarily taking some of the most valuable staff away from their operational duties to participate. These staff are valuable because of the detailed knowledge they have about the way the organization really works and it is their knowledge that is needed to address the root of the information management problems in the organization. Additional staff resources will therefore be needed to enable existing staff to participate in developing the information management strategy. Senior management commitment is needed to make sure that the right people have the time to contribute to the information management strategy.
Stage 2: Engage All Areas of the Organization
Effective information management means that the organization’s information resource meets the diverse needs of all areas of the organization. It is therefore essential that mechanisms are developed to ensure that all areas of the organization can effectively contribute to the work to develop an information management strategy. This will require a cross-organizational team to be established but care is needed to ensure that the team comprises of the right people; the people who will accurately represent the information needs of their area and will work collaboratively with the team to resolve issues as they arise.
Mechanisms also need to be developed to effectively communicate the work being done to formulate an information management strategy to all areas of the organization. Staff need to know that the organization is taking information management seriously and that senior management are committed to tackling the information management problems that have to be addressed and worked around on a daily basis.
Stage 3: Assess the Current Situation
The existing information management problems in the organization need to be identified. This will involve both documenting the problems and seeking to discover the underlying cause of the problem. For example, a problem may be stated as ‘the finance department complain that the sales department use the wrong cost centre codes’. It is unlikely that the sales department are doing this on purpose so an investigation is needed as to why this problem is occurring.
As the existing information problems are documented, it is also important to assess the impact of the current problems in the organization. This may be that time is wasted, clients are lost or that legislative requirements are not being met. Demonstrating the cost of poor information management to the organization can help maintain senior management commitment to improving information management.
Stage 4: Define the Vision for Information Management
The vision looks forward to what information management would look like in the organization if all the problems had been addressed. This involves looking at the causes of the existing information management problems and the external influences on information management (such as legal and ethical issues). In this stage, the principles that will be used to develop an information management strategy are defined. For example, a principle may be that “all information will be centralized where possible”. When the principles of the information management strategy are defined, the aims and objectives of the information management strategy can be developed.
Stage 5: Design the Structure for Information Management
Structures are needed in the organization to both implement and oversee the implementation of the information management strategy. It is therefore important that the information management strategy outlines the:
- Framework of policies that need to be developed to implement the vision.
- Roles and responsibilities in the organization for implementing the information management strategy.
- Relevant informant management legislation that the organization must adhere to.
- Measures of performance that will be used to regularly assess the extent to which the vision for information management is being achieved.
These stages outline the main areas of how to develop an information management strategy. An example of an information management strategy developed using these stages is presented in Chapter 5.
Further Reading: Further guidance on how to develop and implement an information management strategy is presented in Chapter 5.
Please use the following to reference this blog post in your own work:
Cox, S. A., (2014), ‘How to Develop an Information Management Strategy’,13 February 2015, http://www.managinginformation.org/how-to-develop-an-information-strategy/, [Date accessed: dd:mm:yy]