By: Matthew Popovacki
In order to navigate the various and growing demands on corporations from many quarters, information management is vital. Information architecture integrates and standardizes technology, practice, and planning on a corporate basis. It will expedite and enhance decision-making, facilitate planning, improve output and productivity and transform compliance management: in short, increase corporate ability to manage productivity and change.
Involve users early
The information senior management has at a time of crisis (or indeed, routine operation) is only as good as the corporate culture allows it to be. This means it is vital that employees of all levels understand, accept and follow procedures. In order to do that, users must understand the strategy behind what they are being asked to do: expensive software won´t achieve much if employees don´t understand their role in using and supporting the system.
Communicating with the staff directly involved in using and managing information as to why procedures exist means that resistance can be ironed out early in the process and acceptance of the system´s importance can be achieved early. Conducting workshops which directly address all aspects of the system, where and how it will be used, will allow employees to recognize its scope and their role. A clear picture of exactly who will be accountable for which functions is also vital: roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined. This will provide a depth of understanding as to the reasons behind processes and prevent gaps in the system from appearing later.
Ensure integration at all levels
Information systems offer interesting and impressive possibilities; however, they are often poorly integrated into the decision-making processes. This can result in a number of corporate failure scenarios in which: sufficient information to meet a crisis is absent; information is not directly available to senior management at the moment of crisis; managers have not been fully trained to understand and utilize the system and its capabilities; or employees do not follow processes considering them “optional.”
Management and staff alike must all understand both how the system works and which procedures are necessary. Processes must be defined and then communicated: understanding and using a system to its full potential requires practice and experience. If the in-house team doesn’t have that experience, find an expert who is trustworthy and who collaborates well with your team. The entire team from shop floor to senior management must be properly trained to operate and troubleshoot the new IT system if the above scenarios are to be avoided.
Incorporate into decision-making
Once procedures have been defined and all staff know how to use the system properly, management must ensure that the information the system provides is incorporated into the decision making process. A system that is not used or trusted at the highest level will neither provide visibility nor last longer than a few months. Corporate leaders must create a concept of information management that will be incorporated at a senior level as a key element in any long-range business plan. If companies are to cope with the rapidly accelerating changes in both internal and external business environments, management must be prepared to take part in integrating everyone into the required information systems and help to develop their attitude towards supporting and driving it.
In the rapidly changing world of global competition, demands for constant improvement and devotion to improved profitability, corporate management must consider every available tool and technique to gain market share. In practice, this means that senior management must become thoroughly involved in the development of an information strategy – one which will be able to cope with the emerging corporate environment. Without participation in an effective, corporate-wide system for information acquisition, conservation and management, securing profitability will at best remain short-term.