Information management

(Jerker Montelius)

The forgotten branch of CM.

What is Information management?

In short its the process to manage all the information thats not of a traditional type.

What is traditional type information?

  • Code
  • Tickets
  • Documentation
  • Pictures
  • Drawings

Everything that is managed in a traditional version or task management system.

What is untraditional information?

  • Howtos
  • Setup manual
  • Document that don't follow the normal release procedure.

Why is information management hard?

No tool?

No not really. Best thing I can think of is a good and integrated Wiki.

No process?

No. not really that either. You cant look the process I a book and start a work week with: “Dear staff to increase our productivity I have decided that we all should implement Information management process IMP this week”. No one will know what to do then.

The information is in people heads

Yes. And getting it out is sometimes harder than pulling tooths without anesthetic. People are prod or sometimes ashamed of their own knowledge.

You cant "buy" information management"

No. You cant call in a top notch IT management consultant to manage your information and then let him leave. Even if he did a marvelous job his work will start to deteriorate the minute he leaves. Information management is something everybody must take part in all the time.

The information management checklist

Without painting this picture in any darker colors than necessary. Is there something to help people then? Yes. Absolutely. You can start by start using. Information management checklists on your projects like:

  • Do everybody have the information needed to do their work?
  • Do you have key figures in your project that are the only one with special knowledge

Practices

Information in

To handle information in is to actively search and collect information necessary for your project. And to handle it in a secure and professional way. To have only one person know how to build and release a project is not a secure and professional way. If you find that you have many SPOFs try to extract the information in a wiki and demand that several people can perform the tasks in question.

Information out

Information out is is the task to make sure that all parties actually have and act on best and latest information. If you have created wonderful manuals in the last step and no one can find them or have access to read them this is the step to fix that.

Information filters

If you now have a good source of information and a good way of distributing it to your users its time to think about information filters. Should everyone really have to read everything? Should everyone be allowed to write everything?

If not you should start to think about information filters.

Retention policies

Retention policies are maybe the most important aspect of information management. It is also one of the most frequently ignored. The technical development has allowed us in general to be very lazy when it comes to retention policies. The fact is that even if new and ever bigger hard drives allows us to store more and more junk information. The human ability to handle and analyze that kind of information volume has hardly increased. We are therefore left with more and more of unanalyzed and “rotting” information. It is therefore imperative that we apply good retention policies to sort out unused, to old and plainly wrong information and to maintain important information in a proper way.