Competencies to manage information

Competencies to manage information

In 2004, the management system "Information Management Body of Knowledge" was first published on the World Wide Web and set out to show that the required management competencies to derive real benefits from an investment in information are complex and multi-layered. The framework model that is the basis for understanding competencies comprises six “knowledge” areas and four “process” areas:

This framework is the basis of organizing the "Information Management Body of Knowledge" first made available in 2004. This version is adapted by the addition of "Business information" in 2014.The information management knowledge areas

The IMBOK is based on the argument that there are six areas of required management competency, two of which (“business process management” and “business information management”) are very closely related.

  • Information technology: The pace of change of technology and the pressure to constantly acquire the newest technological products can undermine the stability of the infrastructure that supports systems, and thereby optimizes business processes and delivers benefits. It is necessary to manage the “supply side” and recognize that technology is, increasingly, becoming a commodity.
  • Information system: While historically information systems were developed in-house, over the years it has become possible to acquire most of the software systems that an organization needs from the software package industry. However, there is still the potential for competitive advantage from the implementation of new systems ideas that deliver to the strategic intentions of organizations.
  • Business processes and Business informationInformation systems are applied to business processes in order to improve them, and they bring data to the business that becomes useful as business informationBusiness process management is still seen as a relatively new idea because it is not universally adopted, and it has been difficult in many cases; business information management is even more of a challenge.
  • Business benefit: What are the benefits that we are seeking? It is necessary not only to be brutally honest about what can be achieved, but also to ensure the active management and assessment of benefit delivery. Since the emergence and popularization of the Balanced scorecard there has been huge interest in business performance management but not much serious effort has been made to relate business performance management to the benefits of information technology investments and the introduction of new information systems until the turn of the millennium.
  • Business strategy: Although a long way from the workaday issues of managing information in organizations, strategy in most organizations simply has to be informed by information technology and information systems opportunities, whether to address poor performance or to improve differentiation and competitiveness. Strategic analysis tools such as the value chain and critical success factor analysis are directly dependent on proper attention to the information that is (or could be) managed 

The information management processes

Even with full capability and competency within the six knowledge areas, it is argued that things can still go wrong. The problem lies in the migration of ideas and information management value from one area of competency to another. Summarizing what Bytheway explains in some detail (and supported by selected secondary references):

  • Projects: Information technology is without value until it is engineered into information systems that meet the needs of the business by means of good project management.
  • Business change: The best information systems succeed in delivering benefits through the achievement of change within the business systems, but people do not appreciate change that makes new demands upon their skills in the ways that new information systems often do. Contrary to common expectations, there is some evidence that the public sector has succeeded with information technology induced business change.
  • Business operations: With new systems in place, with business processes and business information improved, and with staff finally ready and able to work with new processes, then the business can get to work, even when new systems extend far beyond the boundaries of a single business.
  • Performance managementInvestments are no longer solely about financial results, financial success must be balanced with internal efficiency, customer satisfaction, and with organizational learning and development.

Operationalizing information management

Managing requisite change

Organizations are often confronted with many information management challenges and issues at the operational level, especially when organizational change is engendered. The novelty of new systems architectures and a lack of experience with new styles of information management requires a level of organizational change management that is notoriously difficult to deliver. As a result of a general organisational reluctance to change, to enable new forms of information management, there might be (for example): a shortfall in the requisite resources, a failure to acknowledge new classes of information and the new procedures that use them, a lack of support from senior management leading to a loss of strategic vision, and even political manoeuvring that undermines the operation of the whole organisation. However, the implementation of new forms of information management should normally lead to operational benefits.

The early work of Galbraith

In early work, taking an information processing view of organisation design, Jay Galbraith has identified five tactical areas to increase information processing capacity and reduce the need for information processing.

  • Developing, implementing, and monitoring all aspects of the “environment” of an organization.
  • Creation of slack resources so as to decrease the load on the overall hierarchy of resources and to reduce information processing relating to overload.
  • Creation of self-contained tasks with defined boundaries and that can achieve proper closure, and with all the resources at hand required to perform the task.
  • Recognition of lateral relations that cut across functional units, so as to move decision power to the process instead of fragmenting it within the hierarchy.
  • Investment in vertical information systems that route information flows for a specific task (or set of tasks) in accordance to the applied business logic.

The matrix organisation

The lateral relations concept leads to an organizational form that is different from the simple hierarchy, the “matrix organization”. This brings together the vertical (hierarchical) view of an organisation and the horizontal (product or project) view of the work that it does visible to the outside world. The creation of a matrix organization is one management response to a persistent fluidity of external demand, avoiding multifarious and spurious responses to episodic demands that tend to be dealt with individually.

Competencies to manage information
SophoTree Inc, Alexander D. Kostopoulos October 24, 2023
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