The New Business Of Managing Information – A Process-Centric Approach

by Jim Berkowitz on September 1, 2009

Here’s a synopsis of a very informative article by Robert Kirtley, Maura Dunn and Lee Karas, all with Duff & Phelps LLC, about how process-centric information management ensures that critical business information is readily available, appropriately stored and easily located when needed; The New Business Of Managing Information – A Process-Centric Approach:

The most successful businesses are process-centric – meaning they organize the achievement of strategic and tactical goals around standard, repeatable and actively managed business processes, providing predictable results every time.

What Is Process-Centric Information Management?

Process-centric information management is based on an organization’s business functions and the associated processes that realize those functions. Understanding the information, the systems and repositories that hold the information and the points in each process that use, change or generate the information provides an organization with increased visibility into potential bottlenecks, opportunities for increased productivity and vulnerabilities such as potential security leaks or privacy breaches. In addition, this approach supports the identification of information of competitive value as well as information that an organization may be required to produce for regulatory compliance, reporting or litigation purposes…

Rather than start with a detailed but isolated definition of a particular type of information, process-centric information management starts by defining the business functions the organization performs. It then maps these functions to the specific business processes that implement them. This structure reflects the way the business actually works – which parts of the business interact with each other and how the information flows throughout the organization. The following perspectives offer further visibility into the organization’s use of information.

How Process-Centric Information Management Works

Process-centric information management maps high-level business processes to the information sources that support them. Building on this understanding, an organization can build a coherent, enterprise-wide information management program, wherein each element supports and depends on the others.

The Value Of Process-Centric Information Management

The application and deployment of a process-centric approach to developing an information management program offers added value to the business in many ways.

Business Process– Core business processes support efficient operations and incorporate information management, including recordkeeping requirements, so that managing information and records becomes a routine part of conducting business. By looking at processes up front, organizations can identify opportunities to embed information and records management requirements into everyday business processes as opposed to leaving information management until the end or “after the fact.”

Information – An organization’s documents, systems, files, email, share drives, etc., contain its institutional memory. The process-centric approach to information management ensures that all key inputs and outputs created and/or received are clearly identified for each business function/process.

Policy – Insight into business processes offers an understanding of what people need to do to carry out their jobs and manage their information correctly. This in turn provides an organization with the opportunity to identify and review operational policies on a regular basis.

Applications – Business functions and related processes operate via systems and applications designed to fulfill operational needs, enable access to information, and allow application of records retention and other recordkeeping functionality. In identifying systems and applications which support business processes, an organization gains greater insight into the flow of its information, and the complexities and potential risks related to the “where, who and how” that information is handled, distributed, managed and stored.

Governance – Identifying key stakeholders and roles and responsibilities as part of a review of business processes provides insight into how people actually do business in order to fulfill the organization’s mission. In addition, the process-centric approach maps common understandings and expectations of information creators, users, managers, etc., across the organization.

Infrastructure – An organization’s information management infrastructure supports ongoing business operations while meeting information and recordkeeping requirements. Reviewing business processes as part of the first step in developing an information management program identifies availability and use of hardware, software and storage media across an organization.

Summary

In deploying process-centric information management, an organization marries its information to its business processes providing detailed insight into business processes, information, policy, applications, governance and infrastructure across an organization, not just within individual functions or departments. This integration streamlines and simplifies an organization’s overall enterprise-wide approach to information management and results in greater user acceptance and a better understanding of information flows and relationships organization-wide. In doing so, an organization also increases its flexibility, adaptability and overall ability to react to ever-changing business, operational, and/or regulatory environments, a much needed characteristic in today’s shifting and unstable economic climate.

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