An information baseline can be defined as the current state of;
- What information is being used
- How information is being used
- When information is being used
- Why information is being used
Sometimes a perception exists that baseline reviews add little to no benefit, taking focus away from establishing the future environment. This perception can be short-sighted – outcomes achievable through such reviews include;
- Measuring the quality of information
- Establishing information accessibility
- Identification and location of information repositories
- The level of compliance with information governance including policies, procedures, standards etc.
- Operational work practices
- Identifying process issues
There are many articles on the internet that will tell you it’s important to baseline your information. Yet, trying to find how to do this effectively is challenging.
In establishing the current state it’s important to use relevant measures. Whilst these would obviously include quantitative analysis (such as duplication of information), qualitative reviews such as staff opinions are also crucial.
Quantitative analysis can involve executing scans of information repositories to establish:
- Number of duplicate records
- Use of metadata
- How information repositories are being used and who is using them
Staff perceptions of their roles in creating and managing information is an intrinsic component in establishing your baseline. One of the most effective methods of collating these perceptions is to conduct staff interviews using a standard set of questions.
The results will enable you to establish the good, the bad and the ugly of information management.
In a previous post, collaboration was defined as people and teams combining their skills and knowledge to consistently deliver the highest quality of service to the customer. External collaboration can be defined as uniting your organisation’s knowledge with your customer’s knowledge and expertise to deliver the required outcomes. Timely sharing of information is critical to ensuring successful collaboration.
Service providers sometimes make incorrect assumptions about a customer’s business processes and/or knowledge, often resulting in non-delivery of the required outcomes. Situations such as these can be avoided through active collaboration and information sharing. Never underestimate the value in having access to a consistent source of information and knowledge, as it relates to the engagement.
While technology can assist in exposing information and knowledge internally and externally, it is not the panacea for collaboration. Collaboration is concerned more with behaviours and actions, with the technology supporting the approach. For this to work, commitment from all parties to contribute is required. Leading by example is key to establishing and maintaining the momentum for collaboration.
Barriers to successful deployment of collaboration will exist. It is important to assess who, what and why, so that they can be successfully resolved.
Here are some things to consider when implementing an external collaboration initiative:
- What is the attitude of the people involved? Do they see collaboration as a positive experience?
- What are the benefits of undertaking the external collaboration?
- Is there a commitment to ensuring that information provided is of a high quality and available in a timely manner?
- Is the required technology available to support the initiative?
Collaboration between organisations is exciting and provides enormous benefit when executed correctly. As with all things, done badly it will be another disappointment to your customers.
No matter the size of an organisation, having a collaborative culture is important to ensuring consistency of service delivery. Unfortunately there can be a perception that there is not enough time or capacity to support collaboration within the smaller organisation.
No matter what the size of a company, it is important that everyone shares the mindset of one team, one organisation and shared goals. For smaller organisations, this should be easier to ensure consistency of this message to all members of the team yet for some, this is not always evident. Introducing change such as this can be daunting, taking time to understand where the organisation is today and what future collaboration goals are, is critical for success.
Here are some things to consider when assessing collaboration within your organisation:
- Do goals exist for the organisation?
For example are there goals for service delivery, quality expectations, response times etc
- Does the management team lead by example?
Does the management team have a strong collaboration ethos? If not, what are the barriers/constraints preventing this? Do they believe in a collaborative culture?
- Is there an appetite for collaboration with the team(s)?
For the smaller organisations, a collaborative culture should not be seen as a nice to have. Collaboration should be function of how people work together to deliver services to the customers.
At a foundation level, collaboration is all about people and teams combining their skills and knowledge to consistently deliver the highest quality of service to the customer.
This means people share their knowledge, work to common goals and deliver to agreed expectations of the customer. This may sound like a motherhood statement of the grandest scale, yet many organisations are unable to consistently achieve this goal. Without customers there is no business.
While collaboration seems very simple, execution is often influenced by factors internal and external eg different departments having doing their own thing not working to the common outcome to the organisation that can derail the delivery of customer service.
The good news is that collaboration utopia can be achieved. To start the journey, consider the following;
- Goals – is there a clear common goal that all employees share?
- Customer Perception – how does the customer perceive service delivery across the organisation?
- Internal Perception – how do individuals/teams view each other?
- Working across teams – how effective is it?
- Senior Management – how effective do they work together?
Much has been written about collaboration both internal and external to organisations. Yet it can be difficult to find real world examples where collaboration is indeed happening.
Within the government there are good examples where online community collaboration is increasing both in number and types of engagements. Good examples are the City of Kingston Australia, Mosman Council Australia, City of Melbourne Australia and Seattle City USA. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 12 months, as other government bodies/organisations seek to increase the use of online engagement.
There is still a number of strong views that internal social media style collaboration is a great time waster and does nothing to improve the quality of an organisation’s information and knowledge. In my search of the internet, it can be difficult to find suitable examples of justification for these types of projects. Here is my view on how to justify these initiatives:
- Baseline the state of your information and knowledge use
Usually there will be a number of views rather than hard facts about how good/bad an organisation’s information and knowledge use is. Easy to say difficult to do well.
- Assess the amount of storage that is being used
This sounds very technical however just identifying how many terrabytes (TB) of storage are being used and the growth patterns, can be enlightening.
This assessment could include:
- Complexity – how many departments there are and how aligned are their customer service objectives?
- Culture – Does the organisation foster cross department engagement/innovation?
- Age – Are there a large number of people retiring in the next couple of years?
- Customer Service – what are the views of the customer about delivery of the services?
Collaboration is not a dirty word. Implemented effectively improvements in the delivery of customer service can be achieved.