The lifeblood of every organization depends on being able to manage information correctly. It can mean the difference between safety and disaster, compliance versus fines, etc. In other words, a successful organization depends on information management to operate. Good organizations are able to use information management to increase revenue and decrease cost.
But is your organization prepared? Harvard Business Journal indicates probably not.
What is information management?
The short version of information management is ensuring information (including documents and records) are updated adequately, available to the right people at the right time and follow their schedule — to know whether they should be updated or removed. Of course, helping employees and other personnel know important updates and receive training should be part of the process as well.
Management includes knowing:
- What the information is and its purpose
- Who last updated it
- When it was last updated
- Revision history, where you can see who updated it and when it was updated
- Who’s the intended audience
- Where the information is stored and easily accessible
- Knowing access requirements as well as who has access
- Associated policies and procedures
- Associated schedule
Managing information usually falls to everyone, but has a person or team of people devoted to ensuring documents are managed correctly.
Other groups are often interested in records and document management, too — risk managers, quality managers, auditors, legal counsel, business stakeholders (if they apply to customers, prospects, and partners) and HR (if they apply to employees). People external to your company, including contractors (such as with ISO certification), government agencies checking into compliance or investigating issues and lawyers looking for evidence.
To make matters more difficult, many communicators and IT employees, charged with keeping the intranet updated where information is located, may be falling short on management. Typically, they don’t understand what needs to happen or the consequences.
Which industries need information management?
Just about every industry needs information management.
- Every organization has to meet certain federal, state and local guidelines to operate.
- Global organizations are asked to meet more guidelines, where their offices and people are located.
- Every organization faces potential lawsuits from unhappy customers and/or employees where policies and agreements need to be accessed quickly and easily.
- Healthcare has standards that improve care significantly.
- Manufacturing, logistics, construction, energy and resources have to meet environmental standards and safety requirements. Those standards in some cases could be the difference between life and death.
- Some organizations choose to meet more stringent standards in order to compete.
- Financial services – such as banks, insurance, credit unions, etc. — have to meet a variety of legal requirements, including state agencies that have access to audit.
What are the consequences of not managing information?
It depends on the information that’s outdated or not well-managed. According to the Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM), you face the following risks:
- Disaster. Following the wrong information at the wrong time. This includes being unable to recover data that led to the disaster.
- Safety issues. Moreover, for some industries (such as healthcare, construction, and manufacturing) issues with incorrect procedures or information could hurt or kill someone. For example, imagine a nurse following incorrect dosage information.
- Being non-compliant. Issues associated could include fines and potential revenue. It may also include losing certifications, such as ISO.
- Legal risks, including fines and lawsuits.
- Inaccuracy that reduces quality or service. Organizations that fail to do things well lose their competitive edge and typically have fewer customers.
- Increased costs or a business that isn’t competitive.
- Brand (reputation) issues. With some of the issues above, also comes a problem with organizational perception.
Your tool for information management: a SharePoint intranet
Many organizations already have information stored in Microsoft, using SharePoint as a hub. SharePoint can handle robust information management and many organizations already have access to it through their Microsoft partnerships. Don’t know if you have a partnership? Ask IT. Although other options are available, for information management to work, it needs a solution you can leverage across systems.
You can leverage SharePoint for modern intranets. Plus, you’ll get the benefit of better user experience (UX) and mobility to make getting to information faster and easier. Users can search, even on their smartphones, using terms that make sense to them and have the information come up instantly. Users can add items to their menus and home page. Organizations can even help decide important tools and information for employees to have at their fingertips. For example, for any professional services employee, maybe they should have automatic access to a time sheet to bill at that moment or access to submit a proposal for review.
So not only are modern intranets managing information, it enables faster access as well as to important tools. Some vendors, like ElevatePoint, even help with the arduous task of intranet governance for communicators and IT personnel who need help.
Right information, right time, every time
Timing is everything. In emergency situations, people need to know what to do and where to go. Intranets, where information is often stored, should enable people to get to the information quickly. Remote workers, for example, shouldn’t have to — in an emergency — dig out a series of binders to find what to do. Instead, they can merely take out their personal smartphone to look up the information on their intranet.
Beyond emergencies, getting people the right information at the right time can dramatically save time and money. Reducing costs can enable your organization to rise to the top. You can help customers faster. In retail, for example, you can get speedy updates on discount policies to sell more products.
Managing information takes a village. But, it can be done. Your SharePoint intranet should be a vital part of that management system to reduce risk, save money, save time, and ultimately reduce costs. It’s a competitive edge.
Read a case study on advanced intranet search helped information management
A government agency had issues finding the right document at the right time, which made it difficult to know whether they had the right document, especially when they were in court. ElevatePoint turned that situation around, enabling people — even on a mobile device — to look information up quickly.