Managing information is important to the success of any business. Technology is making information readily available, and more people are accessing information. Information forms the strategies and processes of a company. Managers, at every level, need to organize, acquire, and maintain information in order to make appropriate decisions and ensure that the company runs smoothly.
Why Information Matters
Information determines the decisions that middle managers and senior managers make. With the overflow of information available, it is important that the correct information is included in the decision making process. Middle managers need to seek out, sort, and deliver relevant information.
- Technology and Infrastructure: Information regarding changes to or problems with technology or the infrastructure of the organization needs to be addressed.
- Customer Feedback: Customer feedback, both positive and negative, needs to be addressed.
- Finances: Financial information should be constantly monitored.
- Employee Feedback: Communication from employees will provide valuable information about different business practices.
Strategic Importance of Information
Information is essential to basic business strategies. The success of any business plan is linked to the reliability of the information that is used. It is important that managers use accurate, reliable, and relevant information when creating business plans. Information is used to guide decisions that determine processes that work to achieve goals.
Flow of Information
- Information: Be sure financial, functional, and mission related information is used to develop the plan.
- Decisions: Use the gathered information to help make decisions and manage teams and employees.
- Work processes: When decisions are made, use them to determine important processes that will affect the goals and mission of the company.
- Goals: The goals need to be clearly defined and performance indicators established to measure the effectiveness of the processes.
Characteristics and Costs of Useful Information
There is an abundance of information available. In order for information to be used effectively, however, it must be useful. There are five basic characteristics of useful information. Information that follows these criteria may not always be free. There are costs associated with finding and using the information. For example, there are often fees associated with hiring market research companies, and there are usually costs associated with making changes according to the information gathered.
Characteristics of useful information:
- Relevant: Information that speaks specifically to the topic or problem is relevant.
- Comprehensive: Make sure that the information is complete and detailed to prevent miscommunications.
- Accurate: Double check the accuracy of information, and use only reliable sources.
- Current: Information is always changing. Only current information is useful.
- Economical: Business demands a profit. Useful information will include the economic impact of the company.
Getting and Sharing Information
In order to implement useful information, it must be obtained and shared. Information comes from a variety of sources. The appropriate information needs to be passed on to senior management or employees.
Sources of Information:
- Employee surveys
- Customer surveys
- Market research
- Sales reports
- Productivity reports
- Meetings and conferences
When information is gathered from different sources, it must be shared. There are guidelines to sharing information effectively.
- Communicate directly and clearly.
- Communicate frequently and respectfully.
- Present information honestly and openly.
- Answer questions.
- Encourage feedback and dialogue.