Information management is a process of organising, storing, retrieving, protecting, and distributing information and data in an efficient and effective manner. Below we run through the 6 key steps when considering information management within your organisation:
The 6 steps for approaching information management
#1. Understand the different types of information
Structured data refers to information that is organised in a defined format, making it easier to store, manage, and analyse. Examples of structured data include spreadsheets, databases, and inventory management systems. Structured data typically has a well-defined structure, with consistent formats and values.
Unstructured data, on the other hand, refers to information that is not organised in a defined format. Examples of unstructured data include text files, emails, images, videos, and social media content. Unstructured data is often more complex than structured data and can be more challenging to manage and analyse.
To effectively manage both structured and unstructured data, it is important to understand the different types of data, how they are used, and how they can be stored and retrieved. By categorising data into structured and unstructured types, you can begin to develop systems and processes that are tailored to the unique needs of each type of data.
#2. Develop a system for storing information
Having a consistent and organised system for storing information makes it easier to find, retrieve, and manage information when you need it. Here are some key considerations for developing a system for storing information:
- File Naming Conventions: Develop a consistent and clear system for naming files that makes it easy to identify the contents of the file. This may include using a naming convention that includes date, author, and subject matter.
- Folder Structures: Establish a folder structure that makes it easy to find information quickly. This may involve grouping information by department, project, or other relevant categories.
- Version Control: Establish a system for version control to ensure that you are working with the most up-to-date information. This may involve using version numbers, dates, or other identifying information to track changes.
- Accessibility: Ensure that the information you need is easily accessible to you and your team. This may involve setting up a shared network drive or cloud-based file sharing platform.
- Archiving: Develop a system for archiving information that is no longer needed on a regular basis. This may involve establishing retention policies that dictate how long information should be kept.
- Metadata: Consider using metadata to provide additional information about files and folders. This may include information about file size, author, date, and other relevant details.
By developing a system for storing information that includes these considerations, you can ensure that you have a clear and organised approach to managing your information. An effective system for storing information can save time, reduce errors, and improve the overall quality of your work.
#3. Use technology to manage information
By leveraging technology such as Microsoft 365 to manage information, you can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your information management processes. Whether you are using SharePoint Online to store and track documents, or collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams to improve communication and coordination, the right technology can help you to better manage and leverage information to improve your business. Some considerations for using technology to manage information:
- A Document Management System (DMS) can help to improve document control, version control, and access to information. It may also have features for document collaboration, workflows, and approvals.
- Collaboration tools can help improve communication and collaboration within your organisation. They allow team members to share information and ideas in real-time, regardless of their physical location.
- Search tools such as Microsoft Search helps to quickly locate information within your organisation. This can save time and improve productivity by reducing the time it takes to find information you need.
- Platforms such as Microsoft 365 allow you to store and access information from anywhere with an internet connection and secure login. This can help support a hybrid workplace allowing for a reduction in physical storage and office space.
#4. Establish information security protocols
By managing information security and privacy effectively, you can protect sensitive information from unauthorised access and ensure legal compliance. This can help to safeguard your organisation’s reputation and provide peace of mind to stakeholders and customers.
#5. Create a culture of information management
Creating a culture of information management is an important process for any organisation or business, as it involves establishing practices and processes that enable the effective and efficient handling of information. This culture encompasses a set of values, behaviours, and practices that promote the responsible use of information, the accurate recording of data, and the secure storage and sharing of information within the organisation.
#6. Continuously review and update information management practices
As technology and business needs evolve, it’s important to ensure that your organisation’s information management practices are up-to-date and aligned with your current needs and goals. Here are some reasons why it’s important to continuously review and update your information management practices:
- Changes in technology: Technology is constantly evolving, and new tools and systems may become available that can help you better manage your information. By regularly reviewing and updating your practices, you can identify and implement these new technologies to streamline your processes and improve your efficiency.
- Changes in regulations: Regulations related to information management can change over time. By staying up-to-date on the latest regulations, you can ensure that your practices are compliant with current requirements and avoid potential legal or regulatory issues.
- Changes in organisational needs: As your business evolves, your information management needs may change as well. For example, you may need to collect new types of data or manage data in a different way to support new business initiatives. By regularly reviewing and updating your practices, you can ensure that they are aligned with your current business needs and goals.
- Identify and address gaps: By regularly reviewing your information management practices, you can identify any gaps or inefficiencies in your processes. This allows you to make necessary adjustments and improve your practices to better support your organisation’s information management needs.
Best practices for up to date information management practices
- Establish a regular review cycle: Set a regular schedule for reviewing and updating your information management practices. This could be an annual or bi-annual review, or more frequent reviews if necessary.
- Involve key stakeholders: Involve key stakeholders in the review process, including IT, legal, and business leaders. This ensures that everyone’s needs are taken into account and that any necessary changes are properly vetted and approved.
- Evaluate current practices: Evaluate your current information management practices to identify any gaps or areas for improvement. This may involve reviewing processes, policies, and technology solutions.
- Develop an action plan: Based on your evaluation, develop an action plan to address any gaps or inefficiencies. This may involve implementing new technology solutions, updating policies and procedures, or providing additional training to employees.
- Communicate changes: Once you’ve updated your information management practices, be sure to communicate any changes to your employees and stakeholders. This ensures that everyone is aware of the new practices and understands how to comply with them.