Our society is hugely information based – we create and manage products and services that are dependent on the right person having the right information at the right time. This means that information-related disasters are a very real threat to any organisation.
On January 28 1989, NASA's Challenger space shuttle exploded 73 seconds into its tenth flight, killing the seven people on-board. A gasket designed to prevent leakage of hot gases during the boost phase was the direct cause of the accident, but the Rogers Commission's investigation still established that NASA's organizational culture was a major contributing factor which got in the way of informing about the potential shortcomings of the O-ring. In other words - a tragic and costly information disaster.
There are several kinds of 'information disasters' - some are caused by the wrong information, others by out-of-date information and some quite simply by too much information.
Every day, information disasters, both major and minor, affect organisations that are dependent on the right information being supplied at the right time to the people that need it. There are a number of reasons for this.
- The more paperless our society becomes, the more we have to deal with digital documents in all their forms. Contracts, drawings, sensitive documents, technical descriptions, HR documents and marketing manuals are incredibly important when creating an effective, streamlined organisation. Even so, it is common for businesses and organisations to have important documents lying around on desks, in private folders, on servers, in emails, on external cloud services and on USB sticks.
- Most of us are drowning in information and do not have the tools to manage this torrent. We work longer but get less done. We are bombarded with emails, presentations, research, meeting requests, statistics and reports. We spend ages searching for something we read just days before, looking for notes or getting in touch with colleagues who are on holiday or may have quit the company alltogheter.
- It is common for internal and external parties to be dependent on one another. Purchases may need attention at more than one level of authority, changes have to be recorded and sent to everyone involved, material comes in from a third party and has to be integrated with other information and everyone working on the project must be able to access the material at home, abroad when on business trips or on the train home.
- Documents come in different formats and need to be uploaded, interpreted, indexed and made searchable. What's more, for the sake of efficiency, the system needs to be able to handle enormous quantities of data and hundreds of gigabytes without these affecting the usability or speed.
How can effective document management make a difference?
Simply put, not finding information is costly. But how costly? The research carried out by IDC, Working Council of CIOs, AIIM, the Ford Motor Company and Reuters came to the following conclusion:
- Information workers spend 15%–35% of their time searching for information.
- Staff searching for information find about 50% of what they are looking for.
- 21% of the respondents found what they were looking for on more than 85% of occasions.*
- 40% stated that they do not find the information they need on their organisation's Intranet.
And so the question is -what do these figures cost your organisation in time, money and security? And above all – how can effective document management make a difference?
7 ways that effective document management makes a difference
- Seamless version management ensures that no one works in incorrect version of the document.
- On the train, on the plane, on holiday... Wherever you are, you have access to all documents and the fast access and effective structure saves you time.
- It becomes easier to manage all types of documents, be they technical renderings or sales material.
- Fewer problems with authorizations and old versions give the IT department time to focus on something other than support.
- Complete previews and version managements simplifies restoring previous versions.
- There is optional workflow in a secure cloud-based environment for those who do not have access to your environment behind the firewall.
- There are different authorizations and levels of security for the document to ensure that everyone works on the right document.
Research carried out by IDC and others shows that information workers spend more time recreating material than they do producing new material. IDC carried out a European study in 1999, in which they investigated the phenomenon of the 'knowledge worker shortfall', drawing the conclusion that the cost of intellectual revision, poor performance and difficulties finding knowledge-based resources was 5000 dollars per year and employee. Can your organisation afford this?
* IDC's study from 2002 ('Quantifying Enterprise Search', IDC, May 2002)