The fundamentals of information management

Information management (IM) is the way in which an organisation plans, identifies, creates, receives, collects, organises, governs, secures, uses, controls, disseminates, exchanges, maintains, preserves and disposes of its information.

The primary aim of IM is to ensure that the right information is available to the right person, in the right format and medium, at the right time.

It is also the means through which the organisation ensures that the value of that information is identified and utilised.

Below we have explained key elements of IM under four main areas:

  • people
  • governance & strategy
  • life cycle & quality
  • business systems & processes.

People

Effective IM relies on the knowledge, skills, experience and attitudes of Victorian government agency staff.

IM and records managers are responsible for delivering effective training and support to staff so they can build their IM capability and capacity.

Staff should be fully aware of the importance of IM to the agency and their crucial role in supporting IM. Education and encouragement should be provided for staff to:

  • utilise information to the fullest
  • actively engage in new IM initiatives
  • seek better understanding of the agency’s information assets.

Staff in agencies often have varying levels of responsibility when it comes to managing records and information. For example, staff may be assigned as owners, custodians or users of particular information assets within an agency.

See IM GUIDE 01 Information management roles and responsibilities for more information (this standard is currently under review by the Department of Premier and Cabinet).

To develop a mature IM culture, staff need to be fully educated on the principles of IM and their specific roles and responsibilities.

Staff should have access to a range of internal and/or external IM courses and/or IM knowledge sharing tools relevant to their job role.

Training should be regularly reviewed and updated so that IM capability and capacity within an agency can be continuously improved, ensuring agencies are meeting IM requirements and striving towards best practice.

See WoVG Information management principles for more information (the principles are currently under review by the Department of Premier and Cabinet).

 

 

Governance and strategy

The level of support agency IM teams receive from management will directly effect how well an agency manages its information.

Agencies should establish and maintain an Information Management Governance Committee (IMGC) to lead, monitor and report on information management activities in agencies.

See Governance for further information.

It is important to have effective IM operations and a strategy in place that acknowledges various government IM legislative requirements and standards.

An IM strategy should also align with other strategic planning in the agency, for example, the business strategy, risk strategy, privacy, freedom of information and information sharing strategy, information and communications technology (ICT) strategy, procurement strategy and environmental management strategy.

See the following for further information:

PROS 10/10 Strategic Management Standard

PROS 10/17 Operations Management Standard

PROS 10/10 G6 Records and Risk Management Guideline.

Please note these standards are currently under review by the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Life cycle & quality

The way in which information assets and their systems are managed over time is an integral part of effective IM. Ease of information classification, storage and retrieval is central to agency operation.

Information access and sharing should be facilitated and actively promoted. Agencies should implement effective procedures for information capture, the application of metadata, information access, storage and retrieval.

The way in which information is used and re-used over time also needs to be considered, including issues such as digital continuity and intellectual property.

See the following for further information:

Access Standard

Capture Standard

Control Standard

Disposal Standard

Storage Standard.

 

Information assets held by agencies should be recognised as a source of authentic and reliable information by both internal and external users.

Data quality statements should be developed for significant information assets and a proactive information quality program should be in place if agencies wish to maintain information quality.

Re-engineering business processes to eliminate information duplication and improve information flow can be undertaken to improve information quality, as well as ensuring information assets have assigned responsible owners and custodians.

See Capture Standard and Control Standard for further information.

Business systems & processes

Continuous improvement activities should be conducted regularly to ensure that business processes are optimised for information quality, flow and sharing.

Systems should also be effectively managed over their life, from acquisition to decommissioning, to ensure their integrity, reliability and performance. Agencies should demonstrate proactive experimentation and learning about emerging IM technologies and tools.

Ideally there should also be a close and coordinated relationship between the organisation’s information architecture (the design and arrangement of an organisation’s information and the inter-relationships of information systems), business architecture and IT architecture.

All agencies are subject to the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 which sets out Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) to protect personal information held by Victorian government organisations.

The act also outlines the protective data security functions, which are primarily to establish a protective data security regime for the Victorian public sector, and establish a monitoring and assurance regime for public sector data security.

Agencies should be fully aware of and comply with the Victorian Protective Data Security Framework (VPDSF) which is being developed by the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC).

See OVIC Victorian Protective Data Security Framework for further information.

What are the benefits of good IM?

Good IM practices lead to greater productivity as information is retrieved faster and more easily.

Implementing strong IM in your agency can also yield the following results:

  • improvement of business processes and decisions
  • reduced information storage and application management costs
  • compliance with freedom of information, privacy and security requirements
  • preservation of vital and historical records.