If you’ve never thought about information management because your business is small, then it may be time to consider whether setting certain things in place now will enable and support growth or scale-up endeavours in the future.
While small businesses aren’t at risk of the problems that face large organisations around information management, the same principles can be applied to effective ends.
Firstly, recognise what information management is. Information is anything you create that is derived from the data you collect as a result of running your business. Data itself, and data management, while related, are different things and require different skills and management processes.
Managing your business’s information when you’re small doesn’t take much work, because there’s like not much of it. Information requiring management usually includes financial reports, inventory reports, maintenance logs, etc. It will include contracts and legal documentation. Any information you’re required to keep for regulatory or legal purposes also counts (including HR paperwork & your business policies).
The keys to managing information well are actually quite straight forward.
1.Ensure you and your staff have a culture that values information. Without this, you’ll not get compliance with any other processes you put in place.
2. Define your key language. Create a glossary that lists any term central to your business’s functions – such as customer, product, contract, asset – and then categorise them by functional area – HR, Sales, Finance, Maintenance. You should then get relevant staff to write clear definitions of these terms, relevant to the context of your business. Bring all definitions back to the team for final approval, ensuring they work for all use-cases in your business. Enter them into your glossary and ensure people use language consistently, adhering to these definitions. This will be very useful when you grow and need to implement IT software upgrades, pull more complicated reports from your data and more.
3. Begin a central register of all important information artefacts. Register all your reports and contracts and whatever other information artefacts you have. This is important information to your business and you need to keep track of it all. Don’t forget webpages that display information. All these artefacts need to be kept up-to-date, so ensure your register includes details about who created each artefact, who’s responsible for checking them to ensure they’re up-to-date, who to contact if you notice an issue with the artefact’s content and what data has been used to create the numbers or information in the artefact.
With these three foundations in place, your business has solid footing for the future. And if you need help, give us a call!