Last month I introduced the theme of delivering tangible value to the company through the use of information technology. I'd like to continue the discussion about ways to improve information quality. Before you can undertake any initiative to improve the quality of your corporate information, you must gain an understanding of its current state. One way to gain that understanding is to develop three enterprise information maturity (EIM) models: a knowledge focus area capability model, an information maturity model and an information asset capability model. Together, these three models can help create a common understanding of the current state of corporate information content and capability. They can also capture business perspectives on current and desired information needs and analytic capabilities.
To create the knowledge focus area capability model, begin by interviewing executive leaders, key stakeholders, process and reporting team leads, and functional area leaders to tap into their enterprise knowledge. The focus areas should at least include business intelligence repositories, collaborative environments, learning and employee development programs, innovation initiatives, and research and development centers.
You're trying to measure how well-equipped knowledge workers and managers are to do their jobs. If you're analyzing your collaborative environments, the assessment should focus on how well your company's current environment enables decision-makers and knowledge workers to work together and make accurate, timely decisions. Deliverables for this EIM model should include an analysis of the capabilities in each of your knowledge focus areas and suggestions from interviewees on how to improve each focus area.
The information maturity model is designed to help measure informational and analytic maturity enterprise wide. It helps identify and utilize the knowledge of key IT stakeholders and functional leads for information delivery and analysis. It consists of a dimensional analysis of four key areas:
Information vision: The presence of a common business language across the company, data governance policies and procedures, information culture, and IT and business alignment.
Information organization: Information roles, reporting and analytic delivery functionality and information delivery support.
Information processes: Information quality processes and reporting availability, capability and usage.
Information technology and architecture: Enterprise architecture and infrastructure, and systems design methodologies.
Deliverables from this EIM model should include a blueprint of the company's information infrastructure. With this blueprint, you can see the technological gaps and bottlenecks, so that you can make plans to address them.
The information asset capability model is designed to help measure the condition of corporate information assets. Perhaps this model is the most important of the three because it focuses on the lifeblood of your company: its information. For this model, it is a good idea to begin by examining the consistency, completeness and accuracy of critical corporate information. This will typically include - at a minimum - an analysis of financial, customer, sales and marketing, vendor and employee information.
The next step is to measure information accessibility, concentrating on the user friendliness of corporate IT systems and technical capabilities of your current IT toolsets to deliver information on demand. Deliverables from this model should consist of an inventory of current information assets, an analysis of the business importance of that information and a wish list of information you need.
Once you've constructed and analyzed these EIM models, you should have a current-state snapshot of your company's information capabilities and deficits. As a friend of mine once said, "You can't build a road unless you know where you are and where you're going." These models won't tell you where you're going - that is a topic for my next column. However, they will help you develop a better understanding of the current state of your overall corporate infrastructure. They will also provide you with the invaluable perspective of the people who use that infrastructure so that you can create synergies between IT and the company to help build your own road to success.
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