What system will give me a good view of company information?

At my wholesale building supplies company we’ve always struggled with the management of various documents. At the moment all departments keep and maintain their own documents on desktops, inevitably resulting in accounts constantly chasing sales, sales chasing the warehouses, and I am not able to get a clear view of numbers when I need them. The options, with intranets and online systems, are confusing. What should I do?


A. Steve Odart of Ixxus writes:

The basic principles of information management are:

1) the control of the processes surrounding the information lifecycle; and

 

2) the empowerment of everyone to fi nd and work with those items which are relevant and important to them.

Typically, the components of an information management solution include:

Content and document management – this helps everyone access and create information in a structured way, enforces the necessary standards to protect a consistent company image and ensures everyone has access to current information. By separating content from structure, content management systems can support delivery of the same approved content through the intranet, the internet or over an extranet to different visual styles with differing levels of detail.

Information retrieval and knowledge management – with the management processes around content in place, another aspect to consider is the ability to search across your company’s various repositories to reduce time and costs associated with simply fi nding existing information and realising the massive value of organisational knowledge.

Content delivery platform – the final challenge is to present the information reactively and proactively to the communities with which your business interacts. The content delivery piece supports the actual end-user interaction – be that to employees over an intranet or portal, through content-rich applications, to suppliers and public audiences or through offl ine content provision using content feeds, print and digital media.

For each of these components, a number of products are available from opensource to enterprise-strength and fully featured offerings. The key is to have a clear information management strategy for how you wish to apply technology and process within your business.

Aside from selecting the right systems, it’s important to identify where to obtain advice and implementation services. While product vendors typically provide service offerings along with their product, you should consider a consultancy capable of helping you with all aspects of the information management strategy. Getting everything from strategy defi nition through online brand experience, creative design, implementation, integration and change management can make the overall process far more streamlined.

Implementing this strategy need not, and should not be a complex, high-risk undertaking. Rather, it’s normally best to identify opportunities to use projects to implement pieces of the overall jigsaw – always within the overall strategy. Remember that the easiest way to eat an elephant is one mouthful at a time.

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