Information management best practices form the cornerstone of efficient and organized operations in today’s data-driven business world. As businesses and individuals navigate an increasingly digital world, the ability to effectively collect, store, process, and manage information has become essential. From safeguarding sensitive data to enhancing collaboration and decision-making, these practices serve as the foundation for achieving optimal productivity and maintaining a competitive edge.
Implementing information management best practices is crucial for organizations to effectively overcome the complex challenges associated with the ever-expanding volume and complexity of information. By adhering to these practices, an organization can establish robust frameworks for data governance, ensuring that information is not only collected and stored securely but also managed throughout its entire lifecycle.
The key information management best practices are:
#1. Define your Goals and Policies
Establishing specific objectives helps align IM efforts with broader business goals to help ensure that data-related activities contribute directly to the organization’s success. Additionally, well-defined policies provide a framework for consistent decision-making to provide guidance on how data is collected, processed, and shared across the organization.
Having a clear vision will certainly enhance operational efficiency and create a culture of accountability and compliance between your employees. However, you should always remind them about these goals and policies so that your organization can create a roadmap for effective management of data and empower teams to work cohesively towards common objectives and adapt to the dynamic nature of the information landscape.
#2- Establish Clear Roles and Responsibilities
In order to effectively manage information, organizations need to have clear guidelines for the use of information and training initiatives for employees. Individuals must have clear expectations of their roles within an organization and be able to communicate those expectations in a way that is easily understandable by others.
It is typically accomplished through designating information custodians who have responsibility for creating or acquiring the organization’s knowledge resources, authorizing their use, controlling access, and ensuring their quality.
#3- Understand Current Information Environment
Every company is a part of an information ecosystem. That means that every company needs to understand its current information environment to be successful and to make sure that their company is on the right side of the law and that their employees’ rights are protected.
The first step in understanding your company’s current information environment is to identify the sources of information for the most important people in your organization—your employees. These are your subjects, or what you might call “people of interest” or “the people we care about”.
In addition, you need to know what the different information silos are and try to reduce them.
#4- Facilitate Information Retrieval
Facilitating information retrieval stands as a one of the top information management best practice due to its pivotal role in maximizing the utility of organizational data. In an era of information abundance, the ability to quickly and accurately access relevant data is crucial for informed decision-making and operational efficiency.
Implementing robust systems and carefully plan for information retrieval ensures that employees can quickly locate the data they need, fostering productivity and reducing the likelihood of errors stemming from inaccessible or outdated information.
#5- Create and Review your IM Strategy
Ultimately, it is essential to consistently review and revise your information management strategy to align it with evolving goals, requirements, and vision. Regularly collecting and analyzing data and feedback from team members, customers, partners, and stakeholders is crucial for gauging the effectiveness of your information management practices.
This ongoing evaluation allows you to identify areas of success and pinpoint aspects that require improvement, ensuring that your approach remains adaptive and responsive to the dynamic landscape of your organization and the broader business environment.
#6- Implement an Effective Governance Model
As a business, you will always be under the microscope. There is no such thing as an independent company that can operate in a vacuum. The most critical job of any organization is to provide a satisfactory service to its customers and adhere to it.
Compliance is not just about following a set of rules, but it’s also about creating a framework for self-regulation and fostering stakeholder trust. There are several ways to achieve compliance, though we will focus on three common methods:
Auditing: This method is based on the idea that an auditor is hired to review existing systems and to verify that they are meeting the requirements.
Audit Reports: Audits may produce a report on a company’s financials, operations, etc. This report may then be shared with shareholders or otherwise used to enforce compliance with existing policies.
Penalties: Fines and penalties can be imposed by government agencies in order to promote compliance and to deter deviation from established policies.
#7- Training and Awareness
Investing in comprehensive training programs ensures that employees are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to handle data responsibly and in accordance with established policies.
This will help your organization mitigate the risk of data breaches and promote a sense of accountability between all information owners and users for a more reliable security practices. This has to be followed directly by creating awareness campaigns about the importance of IM to encourage having a proactive approach to whom should be responsible for IM.
#8- Develop Metrics for Measuring Success
In order to develop metrics for measuring success in achieving information management objectives, the following steps must be taken:
Identify the IM objective
Define the metric for measuring success in achieving the IM objective;
Develop a plan for how to measure progress toward achieving the metric.
For example, if an organization is attempting to achieve an information management objective of “increasing customer satisfaction” by improving customer service, in order for the organization to achieve this goal, it would need to assign a focus to customer service that is aligned with the organization’s IM objective. The focus could be “increase customer satisfaction” which will direct the company in how it handles customer service internally through its policies, procedures, and training.
Some of the ways that companies are measuring their progress are:
- The number and types of initiatives in the company’s IM process (for example, e-discovery).
- The percentage of information being managed by internal staff.
- The amount of information that has been migrated to the cloud.
- Support for technology infrastructure.
#9- Define a Quality Control Process
There are many ways to ensure the quality of your information. The most common way is to have an information quality control process in place. This process can be implemented by any level of the company and often involves a manual review before distribution.
The other way is to have an information quality assurance (IQA) process in place. This process can be implemented by any level of the company and often involves a manual review before distribution.
The second way to implement a manual review of the audit file is by having an information security officer make a decision on whether or not to distribute it, and if so, how to do so. This process can be implemented at any level of the company and often involves a manual review before distribution.
#10- Change Management
In the constantly evolving landscape of technology, business requirements, and regulatory frameworks, the ability to effectively manage and document changes to data structures is paramount. By implementing robust change management processes, organizations can systematically plan, communicate, and implement alterations to their infrastructure.
The ultimate goal of this best practice is to ensure that all stakeholders are well-informed about impending changes to minimize resistance and disruption to internal workflows.
#11- Stay Updated
With the advancement of technology, different types of information arise. It is very important to stay up to date by following up on the latest trends in information management. Being informed about these advancements enables organizations to proactively adapt their IM processes to ensure they harness new opportunities for efficiency, security, and strategic advantage.