For most small businesses, once you’ve set up your internet, website and email you’re likely done thinking too much about I.T. and it’s related activities. After all, just those basics were hard enough and likely all you’ll need.
Until you want to grow.
When you start to scale-up, your information management (IM) will determine how successfully your I.T. needs can be met, and whether it can happen at a reasonable and stable cost.
The key, at this point of your growth, is what I call your “information foundations”. These foundations underpin all IM Set these up well, and things will flow much more smoothly.
This refers to the way you and your employees think about, treat and value information. A business where the leaders don’t invest in establishing good IM, and follow IM principles themselves, won’t inspire that in their staff. All staff should be educated in IM, trained to ensure they can deliver what’s expected and have IM included in performance reviews.
This refers to the terms you use when talking about the key activities and metrics of your business, such as “customer”, “account”, “sales figures”, “asset maintenance” or “inventory order”. Each term should have a clearly written, concise definition that explains what you’re referring to. These definitions should be reviewed regularly (annually is good) to ensure they’re still current. Where the term represents a metric, for example “Annual Sales Growth”, the exact calculations should be included in the definition. Having these definitions in place will help future I.T. workers know what you’re asking them to implement as you expand and need more from them.
These are the documents, spreadsheets, webpages etc that you and your team create, that contain information important to your business (like annual reports, financial reports, status updates etc). Because this information is important, it should be managed. A good filing system is only the start. Management of artefacts includes listings of who created it, what data went into it, any limitations to its use, its privacy and security requirements and when it should be retired or superseded.
These basic management practices in these three foundational areas will ensure your information management is ready for your growth strategy.
Want to read more? Here’s a more in-depth article.