Monthly Archives: June 2011

Information Management Organization

Developing of organizational model to drive and support information management within organization, is in my opinion – one of the most difficult tasks. There is no single answer. Every organization is different and the model adoption will depend on multiple factors, just to mention few:

  • Information management maturity within the organization
  • Existing management structure, its formality and depth
  • Culture within the organization
  • History of the organization, particularly failed attempts to provide structure  and governance around information
  • Size and geographical distribution
  • Available skills
  • Business and departmental goals
  • Political pressures and ambitions

Irrespective of selected model, key elements that need to exist – the executive sponsorship and good, committed stakeholder coalition representing most critical areas of the organization. This could be challenging but building this support is providing good foundation for any future initiatives.

For most of organizations that do not have information management in place, starting small is the best practice. Creation of information management working group is a good approach. Focused initially on identification of existing key problems, development of key guiding principles, definition of goals, objectives, roadmap and initial structure,  could be done with relatively small budget. Some of the key elements to support any future information management initiatives is – establishing of a governance, development of strategy, and initial framework for information architecture.  The outputs should strike right balance for the organization to allow enough flexibility to be creative and productive through collaboration, but at the same time protecting informational assets through initiatives like records management.

The model should position existing roles within the organization in the model: CIO, Director of Information Management, existing information management technology functions and so on,  but also define accountabilities and responsibilities for data –  establishing Data Stewards.

Chaos or Agile?

Recently I have had conversation with a project manager claiming that he was running project in an ‘agile’ way. The project is performing poorly with constantly missed deadlines, missed deliverables, and poor quality. This response came when I asked for project plan. Well – there is one but it doesn’t reflect what happened or what is currently going on with this project.

Although I am all for using Agile approach, especially in enterprise content management and records management projects, but Agile is not synonymous to Chaos. Obviously this project manager is using word ‘agile’ to create smoke screen and hide what is really going on behind the scenes, but I noticed that this is becoming a common trend among project managers nowadays. The problem is that ‘agile’ became a buzzword for organizations that are in quest of finding a magic solution to their chronic delivery problems. Agile will work, but only in mature organizations with mature teams, but it could make things worse in organizations that still lack of foundations of good delivery.

In the strong, prescribed methodologies it was easier to spot when things were going wrong, so it was easier to remediate. Obviously they went wrong from the very beginning, starting with development of rigid requirements that often did not address what the end client wanted. The requirements became substitute for communication with the end users, so end result was often not what the client was expecting, and the biggest enemy became word ‘the change request’.

Agile still needs to have a plan, however a plan that adopts to changing environment, business needs and dynamics within project team itself. There must be controls in place to identify when project is getting off track. These controls are different than in traditional world. This difference is related to different approach. In traditional world the problem was handed over from the business to technical team to deliver solution. The ‘agile’ way is not to have distinction between business and technology – it is only one team delivering solution, consisting of business and technical people. There is no more shifting of the accountabilities and responsibilities between the two. There is a team resolving business problem. This leads to shift in way how the projects are measured. The shift is from the project centric reliance on how the project is doing in terms of the triple constraints, to delivery of business value and tangible results and this is how the projects should be measured. The budget and time are still important and fundamental to the project, but the focus should be on delivery of business value.

This is the point where project management becomes more art than science – balancing act between rigid approach and the chaos on the other side. But Agile is not synonymous with Chaos.

What is Information Management

It is interesting – if you ask five people what Information Management is – you will get 7 different definitions. Recently I was in a panel discussion on this subject. Here is my take on this.

Information management is kind of an esoteric term – data but view in a context. Information becomes an asset and as any other physical assets of a company, it has associated value that is linked to the age of the asset. As with any other type of asset the information depreciates over time. Because of its nature – you cannot touch it – most of the companies ignore managing the information in the same way as the typical assets. However – it has its own value and sometimes it is considerable. If for example organization spent 2 million dollars on developing a research or a GIS map, if the users cannot find it – it is a waste.  So adding monetary and time value to the information is critical and people responsible for information should define and communicate this. Information should be put under quality control and protected. Again – because of its nature these concepts are the same but implementation must be different. As with other assets – information has its own lifecycle. Another important aspect is that information should have associated accountability within organization.

There are few elements that information must be based on:

  • Governance – describing how information is managed
  • People – how people use and influence the information
  • Processes – how information flows and changes
  • Technology – supporting collaboration, storage, preservation and security
  • Organization – how information is organized

To address these, the organizations should build the supporting elements – starting from the most basic, to more sophisticated where information value is realized:

  • Fundamental – these must be in place first
    • Information Strategy
    • Information Architecture
    • Governance
  • Basic business
    • Enterprise Content Management – managing unstructured data
    • Enterprise Data Management – managing structured data
  • Business value realization
    • Business Intelligence
    • Search, discovery, delivery
    • Knowledge Management