Broadly, information management (IM) is about the structured and methodical management of all forms of information (in the broadest sense – print as well as digital) from its creation, collection or identification (auditing), to its utilisation, archiving or destruction. This applies as much to personal as well as organisational information. After all, if you can’t manage your own information (email inbox anyone?), how are you going to manage all the stuff collected and created by colleagues within the organisation? And how do you know what’s useful and potentially valuable and what’s just noise?
According to the Information Management Foundation (TIMAF), there are 5 basic principles of information which are:
- Information is communication
- Information has value
- Information has target groups.
- Information has a lifecycle.
- Information has structure.
This means that for information to be useful, it should be structured, given a value, communicated to targeted groups and renewed on a regular basis. Information reveals itself in many ways and includes all forms of content, data, articles, documents, assets, records and even processes. Basically, anything an individual or organisation creates or collects, stores and distributes is fair game. If it can be preserved and communicated, it’s information.
The management of information for specific purposes is something I’m really passionate about as it’s a real time and money saver if done properly, but it does require a commitment and some investment of time. The tools to do the job properly vary in price from the free, or almost free, e.g. open source applications (some versions of Alfresco) and Google Apps, to the high end products offered by IBM, Open Text, Microsoft and a myriad of others.