Information Design is an interesting term. Can information be designed, is it something that should be designed? Or is it just the presentation of information that is designed?
In the case of the IM Model, information design relates to the elements used to categorize information to meet the basic requirements of record keeping, information security, and business continuity required by an organization to manage its resources. With these in place, an organization can meet its legal obligations, but it isn’t necessarily leveraging the strategic value inherent in information. That is left to content management and business intelligence strategies.
Record Keeping has often been associated with managing only the information that is identified as a record. However, as technology has evolved and the responsibilities of identifying records have devolved to the information creator there has been a shift towards the concept that all information an organization creates is a record and should be managed accordingly. The Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles presented by ARMA and the definition of Information Management supported by AIIM promote this shift.
So, while conceptually that’s great, the reality is that some information in an organization has more value than others. How do you identify which information is worth more than other pieces of information? Primarily through the retention and disposition schedule (RDS), however the level of sensitivity applied to it and whether it is essential information for business continuity purposes also labels the information as more valuable than others.
Another factor that is important as it relates to how the value of information is determined is the governance model associated with the retention and disposition schedule. Through the schedule, the ‘owner’ of the information is identified. The owner is responsible for signing off on either the destruction or archiving of the information before the action is taken. The governance model to approve and manage changes to the RDS ensures the information valuable to the corporation is identified and managed accordingly.
These record keeping tools however, don’t address the challenges of identifying the ‘official’ record from supporting documentation or various drafts/versions of the record. This challenge is addressed through business rules developed by the ‘owner’ of the record and the records manager, and electronic tools available to manage the information.
So after all that why call it Information Design? Because the record keeping principles proposed by ARMA are the foundation designs on which all IM Programs are built. By applying these classification structures to an organization’s information we are opening the door for more effective tools and practices that will deliver better value on an organizations’ most strategic asset – its information.