Actionable Information Management Principles: The Reality

October 9, 2010
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A couple of months ago I wrote about IM principles relating to people and process. I had intended also writing about principles relating to technology and content but then I hit a wall.

A couple of months ago I wrote about IM principles relating to people and process. I had intended also writing about principles relating to technology and content but then I hit a wall. This wall was that the principles were too detailed for the people I needed to communicate with: namely the business community. 201010 car in wall 2If I continued with the principles in their current form I would likely fail in my effort to have people understand why I was taking the organisation in the planned direction. Not a good look and certainly bound to fail at some point down the road.

So I had a rethink and decided to simplify the principles into a more compact form that I could communicate more easily.

My rethink centred around the information assets I am responsible for. An information asset is any information, person, process or technology whose primary purpose is to support management decision making or regulation. They include data items, measures, reports, dashboards, alerts, data marts, warehouses, business rules and processes and any person involved in creating, maintaining or using these assets.

With this in mind, my principles have become:

  1. Every information asset has a single owner and definition but has one or more stakeholders.
  2. Manage Data across the whole lifecycle, retaining and disposing of detailed records and data while preventing deterioration and loss of data and metadata such as definitions and data models.
  3. Data quality is dealt with as early as possible and is measured in absolute terms.
  4. Decision making is fact-based, established through an analytics culture that hires numerate people and supports all staff with appropriate training and knowledge sharing.
  5. Business processes are tightly bound to the underlying information assets and data is quality managed to ensure that it is fit for purpose.
  6. The IM function works through an information budget & funded projects and can enforce its objectives related to corporate data. All IM initiatives deliver towards a defined and agreed target information architecture.

These principles underpin and explain all of my IM strategic actions. The benefit of doing things this way is that the people I communicate our strategy to can relate complex, difficult and challenging strategic actions back to a fairly simple and straightforward set of principles. Principles that are easy for them to decide whether-or-not they support. If they support the principles, then that informs their understanding of the actions. Ultimately, they have helped me get the decisions to fund my IM initiatives. 

For me as a change agent, it’s so far so good. I have initial funding to back transformative IM initiatives. These initiative are not yet completed but at least now I’m in the game with a chance of winning. Stay tuned as I hope to report back on successes and failures along the way …