Government Information Management (IM) professionals manage information in an increasingly complex business environment. With competing priorities and limited budget, senior management need evidence that IM projects will produce measurable benefits. So, how do you begin to build a business case that strategically aligns with your organisation’s priorities?
Today’s public sector faces these and other significant IM challenges.
This article explores these issues in greater detail and explains the benefits of using Public Record Office Victoria’s IM3 tool to assess your organisation’s IM strengths and weaknesses.
The Information Management challenge
The increasing proliferation and decentralisation of business structures and systems has led to greater challenges in both the management of information and its strategic coordination among business units and agencies. Further, information architectures increasingly depend on a diverse range of hosted and off-the-shelf business systems to provide quality service to the public.
Persistent, available and reliable information
There is a direct link between responsiveness and how integrated information sits within government. Sound IM is crucial to ensure knowledge is maintained within an organisation in the face of:
- higher rates of staff turnover
- frequent restructuring
- shorter life-spans of programs and projects for efficiency gains
- contracted policy cycles driven by executive government.
These factors create risks of knowledge leakage where operational and content knowledge of systems leaves an organisation.
Another risk is unmaintained technology-dependent systems or systems not properly retired in accordance with established rules and principles through the appraisal and disposal of assets. This results in a decline in the usability of information sets; particularly where information becomes locked in a legacy system. Re-discovering the information becomes costly, and highly valuable information is lost or mixed with low value information.
By contrast, migration of information assets and/or appraisal and disposal allows for either the preservation of information assets of medium to long-term value to be reused as required in the future or for information assets to be legally destroyed.
Failures to manage information can lead to lost opportunities in efficiency, cost reduction and service improvement. A lack of information sharing among government agencies results in duplication and fracturing where relational information is isolated and confined within different agencies. Increasingly, members of the public expect that information should not only be accessible but that the point of access is maintained as a singular interface or ‘one-stop-shop’.
Low priority, high impact
IM practises which fall short of legal obligations can lead to poor public perception and high costs associated with legal action.
Yet IM ranks as a low priority in many government organisations. When presented with perceivably minor IM failures that appear to be singular events, a CEO may be inclined to tolerate the consequences when faced with competing priorities. Damage caused by poor IM tends to be delayed and accumulative. Evidence suggests that the impacts of IM in businesses are significant:
- According to Gartner, 40% of business initiatives fail to achieve targeted benefits because of poor data quality (P. Southekal, IDM July-August 2015).
- On average, the potential benefits of improving information management practices are up to $20,000 per employee per year (Experience Matters, RMN2015).
Towards organisation-level Information Management
Positioning IM at an organisational level provides a robust framework for justifying and measuring results from expenditure on IM. This approach seeks to minimise waste and lost opportunities. It offers a structured, clear process for formulating IM-related strategies and ventures, and identifying outcomes.
How does Public Record Office Victoria’s IM3 tool fit in?
The Information Management Maturity Model (IM3) provides records managers and senior management with a clear snapshot of their current IM capability. By completing the model, you can quickly identify your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses across all key IM areas. Importantly, the model also provides clear high-level goals for improvement in each area.
Results from the IM3 assessment can be used to:
- Better identify areas of IM in the organisation that need attention
- Assist in setting goals for IM capability and skills development
- Link to relevant Whole-of-Victorian Government policies, standards and guidelines
- Support a case for resources or initiatives to improve information and records management.
The IM3 is perhaps most useful when an organisation undertakes the assessment on a regular basis. By charting IM ‘health’ over time, your organisation can track the effects of initiatives, decisions and changes to move towards continuous IM improvement. The development of this data-set can be used to inform broader IM strategies in your agency.
What’s involved in performing an IM3 assessment?
Start by simply downloading the FREE tool.
The assessment requires you to think about different aspects of your organisation’s current IM practices, policies and processes.
Questions are divided into four areas:
- Information Lifecycle & Quality
- Business Systems and Processes.
You will be asked to select your organisation’s current ‘maturity’ for each criterion. The levels of maturity for each criterion are characterised by short statements, each one simply describing what a higher level of maturity might look like. Completion of the assessment does not require special resources or data collection, you judge where your organisation sits based upon your knowledge and experience. In many cases, it will be appropriate for more than one person to collaborate on the assessment.
The intention of the IM3 is not to ‘pass or fail’ organisations against a compliance checklist. It is simply a self-assessment. Upon completion, you will be provided with a graph and table of your results. This shows the level of IM maturity across different areas, with levels ranging from ‘unmanaged’ (least mature) to ‘proactive’ (most mature).
Find out more
For more information about IM3 and to hear examples of organisations that have found it helpful, please contact us via email at email@example.com.
By Carly Godden, Senior Officer Standards and Policy, and Howard Quenault, Senior Manager, Government Recordkeeping – Public Record Office Victoria. Based on an article first published in Records and Information Management Professionals Newsletter.