Dear Information Agony Aunt
I’m a newly appointed Information Manager. I’ve only been in my job a short time and already it seems like an insurmountable task. There is so much to do and for some of it I don’t feel like I have the power or expertise to take it forward.
The role of an Information Manager is less about doing and more about providing leadership, drawing the threads together, bringing relevant information management expertise to the table and influencing people across your organisation on the importance and value of good information management. Information Managers need to be confident and effective communicators in order to do this.
An Information Manager cannot operate in isolation. Below are some of the key people that you need to link up with:
- Getting the support of senior managers is crucial for successful information management. Most senior people today have to work with a tight budget, so demonstrate to them how good information management can save money and increase efficiency. For example, making the time to identify and get rid of ephemera or information of short term value will increase efficiency (large amounts of information will often slow the performance of a system and make it difficult for staff to find what they need) and reduce maintenance and storage costs. If that doesn’t work, scare them with a few ‘what happens when things go wrong’ stories!
- In today’s technology driven world it is absolutely essential for IT and Information Managers to work closely together. IT generally do not have expertise in what is required from a system to achieve good information management and Information Managers often do not have the technical expertise. A good relationship between information management and IT will ensure that the organisation has technology that enables the business to find, open, work with, understand and trust its information for as long as it needs to.
- Connecting with business areas is the only way to fully understand the true value of the information to the organisation and exactly how staff need to use their information. Having a network of information reps within business areas can be beneficial, providing they are of an appropriate grade to have influence and able to devote time to the task.
- Forging links with compliance focussed areas dealing with, for example, FOI, Data Protection, Information Assurance is beneficial as it helps lend weight to the importance of information management. These areas will often attract senior management attention because of the reputational risks around non-compliance and potential financial penalties. Good information management is an important factor in ensuring that the organisation can effectively deal with FOI and Data Protection requests and handle its information securely.
As an Information Manager you are also perfectly placed to act as a bridge between all these different areas.
So there it is. You’re far from alone. Go out armed with your knowledge and expertise and start making allies.
Information Agony Aunt