Training and Retraining Senior Managers in Business Information Best Practice

There is an urgent need for business information management to be a crucial aspect of management training for executives in any kind of business or any size and in any location. This is a largely ignored aspect of management training with everyone leaving it to IT or information management professionals to deal with what the business needs, what it needs to spend and what it can expect. This will always result in outcomes being attached to output, in this case financial. But there is a fundamental component that is missing and it is time that it was noticed and replaced.

Messy, unstructured computer networks do nothing to support productivity and economic viability or encourage success for the average small, medium and large business. They are also a potential source of business degradation for large companies and government. Messy, unstructured information renders the business unsafe and unmanageable and messy unstructured information masked by document management systems and clever search functions are putting the business at risk, reducing its effectiveness and leaving it without the means to exploit the power of policy, training, resources and business knowledge.

Most business owners and managers are capable of setting out the rules by which their business information is managed but are unaware of both the need to do this and its relationship to their management role. They know they are capable of understanding the needs of the business but are not aware of the benefits of information structure and control. There are limits to their view of what is really available to them by controlling their precious but undervalued business information.

It is this lack of awareness that ensures that they are not in charge. Others are in charge. Those others do not have the interests of the business at heart because it is not their business but they have been given responsibility for all business information only because owners and managers have not been made aware of any other way to manage this precious asset.

Information management technology is usually viewed as simply a tool for creating, collecting, storing and using business information where the technology, having produced the information, is then used to try to create a context for the content. Systems currently used to manage business information will generally focus on creating context at the point at which the information becomes storable and not at the point in which it is determined as being usable. They do this by applying search terminology to enable the business to look back at what has been used. This application of terminology or key words is totally reliant on the person who is undertaking this work and it may or may not be in the best interests of the business.

Business Information Organization (BIO) is a methodology that maintains the context throughout the life cycle of all business information. That context is firmly seated within the operational profile of the business. This simply means that the information is structured to suit the business and not the operator. Any computer or network structure that moves away from ‘my documents’ and represents what the business is and what it is doing is using the power of BIO.

BIO as a methodology on an intelligent network does not rely on the artificial application of keywords and search terms to point to location of the information and return to it at some later date, but relies totally on the context of location of the information from the moment of generation or collection. On a BIO structured network nothing is generated or collected unless it is controlled by a business based location and this means it will be in context. This means that the location is predetermined and controlled by carefully organized folder structures.

The computer and the business computer network has evolved into a default setup that could never be recognized as the tool for location. Many individuals know to do this for themselves and they create order and control in where and how they store the business information for which they are responsible but most businesses are not aware of both the potential and the power of organization as a business-wide strategy.

Much of the current management training focuses on making use of existing systems and software. What if business executives were shown the basics of business information organization (BIO), the power of the intelligent network and how information best practice is one of the options for managing the business?

These are high stakes. The future of the business is being left in the hands of people who may be here today and gone tomorrow. Every business deserves to be told the truth about information management and what they should expect in the way of best practice. What might be the difference if a business could confidently say:

o We have complete confidence in content management on our computers and networks.
o All policy and compliance is in place where and when it is needed.
o Resources to aid productivity are logged and accessible in context of the work being done.
o Training is accessed continually in context of the work being done.
o Every new project is supported with policy, training and resources.
o Attachments are no longer necessary in in-house communications and duplicates are not tolerated.
o Less paper is produced and more information is digitized to maintain a strong knowledge base.
o Backups and security procedures are context based.
o The network is well managed with file naming protocols in place and folder management practices working across the whole organization.
o There are important economic benefits and greater productivity across the whole of the business.

For more information on BIO visit the website at [http://www.renovateabusiness.com.au] and see the new book ‘How to renovate your business: the information best practice makeover that really works’. The website also contains a number of articles and tools that can aid in retraining senior management in information management best practice.

There is no equipment or software to buy, nobody to hire and nothing to spend to create a BIO based business you can be proud of. But you might as well forget about success unless your senior managers are committed to making this happen. The good news is that business owners and managers get to say how it should go. They have the power to make changes and make sure that best practice is in place. There are questions to ask about current practices in the business and to ask how what you are doing now matches up with the points above. The rest is only ever going to up to you, what you see is important to your business and the kind of training you can provide for your senior staff.