Operational excellence largely depends on knowledge and information. The painful realisation resulting from countless projects and initiatives: Traditional knowledge management and enterprise content management does not really work despite high investment. (Find out here why that is the case: 7 Mistakes)
The encouraging message here is: Information (knowledge) management works well, as soon as we let go of outdated paradigms.
Once we change the approach, we’ll see: Information management does work. All organisations get better, faster and significantly more flexible. Plus they become more business and customer oriented.
Three Elements: The Interplay Between People, Information and Technology
What then is that new, innovative approach? It views information management (IM) as a continuously managed process and consists of the interplay of three elements: People, information and IM technologies. This trifecta – and the entire process – is controlled by information managers. Let’s have a closer look at these three elements.
1. People: Information Users, Providers and Stakeholders
Let’s start with the people. In terms of information, there are basically 3 groups of people in any organisation: Information users, information providers and stakeholders. The fact that everybody in the organisation is an information user is undisputed. That’s a fact. Almost everyone is, however, also an information provider – a fact that is not sufficiently acknowledged in traditional approaches. They focus too much on having some people make available important information to give to others, who will then use them. Important information is missing, because the people, who actually have that information, simply don’t have any means available to them that would allow them to contribute their knowledge in a targeted manner. The countless company-internal posting platforms don’t make things any easier either.
In addition to users and providers, there should always be specifically defined stakeholders, who know and accept their role regarding information. Stakeholders are the “accountables” with regards to information. They should be the ones defining the objectives of IM and their performance should be measured by whether or not they facilitate effective and efficient information management.
That is where the IM manager comes into play in a supporting role. The IM manager controls the process, aligns objectives with stakeholders and ensures that the communication process between user and provider is guided to achieve a specific end result.
2. It’s all About Information
Information is the Key to Success. Ideally, everyone in the organisation should be able to access all required information in a reliable and clear manner whenever it is needed. And how do we get as close as possible to that ideal scenario? Fact is that information without IM is never sufficiently documented in written form. Plus: existing documentation is never of sufficiently good quality.
That implies two immediate tasks. An IM process “Create”, i.e. the creation of information in written form, must be permanently controlled and prioritised. Additionally, the quality of existing information must be continuously re-evaluated (in the IM process “Evaluate”) and improved.
These are generally responsibilities of the IM manager. The IM manager controls the QM process and prioritises the supplementation and creation of additional information.
3. Technologies for Information Management: the 7 Main Criteria
Technology orientation is surely one of the worst negatives in traditional information (knowledge) management. Sure, technology is important, but it should only ever become a consideration during the last step of information (knowledge) management initiatives.
Let’s now look at some of the basic tasks of IM technology and some of the general criteria applicable for selecting the right technology.
The key purpose of IM technology is to make reliable information available everywhere and easily. This basic requirement can be broken down into a small number of detailed tasks and selection criteria:
- IM technology must support a single source of information.
- It must be modular, with strictly demarcated functions. Content management and content delivery, for example, must not be combined in a single system, even if that looks convenient and approaches like these would allow a much faster implementation.
- IM technology must be easy to integrate, meaning it should have a sufficient number of interface points. A content delivery system must allow the use of any content management system. And vice versa, every content management system should support just about any delivery system (see below: CDS, CMS).
- It must support standards – specifically in terms of interfaces.
- IM technology must support the integration of content by way of universal meta data models and taxonomies, as well as universal search functions.
- IM technology must support the quality management process – for example with Text Analytics to measure linguistic quality and for terminology checks.
- IM technology should furthermore support the QM process with comment and rating functions, as well as analyses of usage behaviour.
The tasks of the IM manager in terms of IM technology are two-fold. On the one hand, the IM manager must transform business requirements into IM technology requirements and on the other, he or she will have to develop an IM technology roadmap to allow the implementation of a long-term IM strategy.
Basic rule for content delivery and content management
Content delivery systems are just that: They help visualise any type of content. That could be texts and lists, tables or graphics, as well as voice or video. Content delivery systems can be wikis, web applications, bots or any other type of app.
Content management systems are used for the creation and management of content. These systems are always specialised on specific types of content
Rethinking Information (Knowledge) Management
The success of OpEx is based largely on information management. Success here is not primarily dependent on that technology, but it does play its part. IM technology is, however, definitely a key element within the framework of an integrated, universal approach for information management. New technological approaches (analytics, chatbots) additionally create entirely new possibilities as part of that approach.
The most essential part, however, is the new, innovative approach of IM. That in itself is the big difference in comparison with traditional, failed approaches and the key to success.