What Is Information Management?

The Modern Age of Information

Information management systems are becoming vital to businesses worldwide. The new millennium has been dubbed “the Age of Information,” and nowhere is this more evident than the workplace. Businesses have seen an exponential increase in the amount of electronic data, website content, physical (hard-copy) records, contractual agreements, online and offline correspondence, business and personal files, and financial records that must be created, stored, archived, organized, accessed, and either protected or shared. An information management system does all this and more, helping businesses large and small as well as the private sector improve their overall efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

Information Management System: Industry Specific Information Safeguards, Retention, and Disposal Policies

Information governance also includes industry specific conventions for the management of data. Certain types of information such as health records and confidential consumer financial files require special handling, including security safeguards and government-mandated records storage requirements. In addition, each industry must strictly adhere to the information retention and disposal policies set forth in their country, state, county or city.

This means that over and above storing and organizing paper files and electronic data, backing up company files via computer backup tape or physical storage facilities, managing access to sensitive information, and keeping track of mandated retention time periods, information management also includes appropriate destruction of documents and the implementation of secure shredding procedures.

Fortunately, a well designed information management system will lighten the burden for you and your firm, allowing you to effectively manage your records, comply with regulations, stay protected from disaster, and ultimately operate a smooth-running business.

Essential Building Blocks of Managing Corporate or Private Information

Think of the processing of your corporate or private files as a series of building blocks. In order to effectively manage the flow of information, each block must provide the foundation for the next block, ultimately resulting in the creation of a strong, operational structure.

Here are the essential building blocks comprising a good information management system:

  • Document Creation
  • Document/Data Storage (physical or electronic location)
  • Data Protection (security safeguards and file/disk backups)
  • Information Organization (classification or categorization schemes, naming conventions, indexes, where content is held, hard copy vs. soft copy formats)
  • Retrieval (easy access to old and new information, including keyword search capabilities)
  • Information Distribution (how information is transmitted internally and/or outside the business premises, and who has access to this information)
  • Workflow (protocols for the passing of documents within and between departments, including mandatory approvals, signatures, and security regulations)
  • Retention (adherence to industry regulated practices regarding the life of a document)
  • Disaster Management System (contingency plans in the case of natural disaster, theft, or malicious information destruction)
  • Information and Document Disposal
  • Recognize the Value of Information for Your Organization’s Ethos

As the value of information is increasingly on the rise, so too is the awareness of the value of managing this information for the success and smooth operation of any organization. If you haven’t yet invested in a formal information management system, the time to do so is now!

In fact, it is said that the way in which an organization treats and perceives information is reflective of the organizational culture at large. Indeed, the recognition of the importance of information as an asset, and the protection, management, and care of this asset is a fundamental “best practice” across the spectrum of industries today.

Best Practice Strategies for the Management of Information – Get Everyone Involved

It has been proven that effective information management does not stop with at the top brass. In fact, every employee from the bottom rung up must be fully involved. Keep everyone in your organization up-to-date regarding the procedures and rules guiding information management practices. In this way, not only is everybody accountable and responsible for managing records, but everybody plays an important role in the company’s overall success.

Adhering to best practice strategies for the management of information in your industry will enhance communication, improve work flow, boost productivity, augment customer and business partner satisfaction, and ultimately revolutionize your workplace and enrich your business in immeasurable ways!