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.............................................................Table of contents 1... The information audit: Its contribution to decision making.... 1 22 November 2013 ii ProQuest ..........

Moreover. government or non-profit making sector. even the latter has often been subject to cost-cutting pressures. Internal data are frequently expressed in terms of conventions which categorize information services and resources as non-productive overheads. decision making at board or top management level is heavily dependent on internal financial information. and such cuts can indeed produce obvious short-term gains. whether it be in the private. undertaken preferably at corporate level. 22 November 2013 Page 1 of 5 ProQuest . and 91 per cent rated meetings and word of mouth as the most important information source.Document 1 of 1 The information audit: Its contribution to decision making Author: Dubois. ProQuest document link Abstract: Information audits are a useful information management tool with respect to the identification. but if the internal capacity to identify and evaluate information is not transparent to decision makers the means to decide on appropriate action becomes much more difficult. With respect to internal information only four out of 515 respondents made any use of corporate libraries. The situation is less acute where information services are seen as an integral part of research and development but. allows the resources devoted to information to be mapped. An information audit. The contribution of such consultancies can of course be highly cost-effective. The audit is specifically intended to further this process by: * identifying resources. Full text: Although the information audit may be considered one of the most important tools in information management. C P R Publication info: Library Management 16. social and political environment[2]. and rationalization of information resources and services. This is not to say that expenditure on information is insignificant. information auditing can make an enormous contribution not only to good management of information resources and services. It is often both substantial and disorganized. with frequent reliance on expensive external consultants when a situation arises requiring research on a particularly pressing matter.7 (1995): 20. In these circumstances expenditure on information resources and services is often under threat when policy decisions to cut costs are taken. perhaps more importantly. In addition. In the UK. the results of the audit can be used to make clear the contribution made by information and information services to the work of an organization. as is well known. analysed. 41 per cent of respondents considered newspapers and journals as the most valued source. followed by word of mouth (21 per cent) and online services (12 per cent). to corporate awareness of the part played by such resources and services in the work of an organization. A case study of a partial information audit conducted at the International Coffee Organization is presented. At the same time undocumented formal and informal communication flows may be revealed which can contribute to the development of optimal management structures. but also. services and information flows. The parallel with standard financial auditing is therefore a loose one. The contribution of such resources to the organization can therefore not only be assessed but in many cases become visible in a way which may not have been possible previously. costing. which is of particular importance for decision making. but applicable also to any significant accounting unit such as a specialist division. development. One recent study[3] found that two-thirds of UK companies have no formal information policy. Relatively less attention is given to external information either on competitor activity or on the general economic. information typically should be able to support decisions on a much wider corporate or institutional basis than research only. it is important to accept that as yet there are no standardized guidelines let alone methodologies for such a procedure[1]. In the area of external information. costed and rationalized. Nevertheless. A methodology for the various stages of the auditing process is described.

if appropriate. Their disadvantage is their likely lack of indepth knowledge of the organization. * improving the marketability of services by increased visibility. in order to get an accurate picture[5]. Finally. It is important that key members of the team should be able to understand the dynamics and rationale of the organization as a whole while having professional expertise in information systems and services.* verifying the existence of appropriate services. * report (with recommendations for action). It is important to give priority to critical success factors as perceived by respondents rather than information needs as such. The questionnaire should then identify information sources used. I believe that the audit procedure can be broken down as follows: * planning phase. Finally. This should include the perceived role of the department and the respondent. establishing regular monitoring mechanisms. internal. A useful definition of an information audit process is provided by Stanat[4]. hardware and software needs can be discussed and ways in which results are measured. The survey methodology should then be established and a sample of respondents identified. all survey respondents should be contacted before the survey starts to explain what will occur and to give them some time to address the issues in general terms. strategic goals and challenges and obstacles. Audit blueprint 22 November 2013 Page 2 of 5 ProQuest . The key element in this process is to look at information in terms of core areas of work rather than as a marginal extra. services. Its composition may vary between the use of outside consultants or internal staff or a mix of both. before attempting to elicit responses on information needs in terms of strategic goals and communications. * survey (of resources. Organization charts should also be obtained. these are important as a starting point for mapping communications flows and for identifying potential survey respondents. External consultants have the advantage of being able to devote full-time attention to the audit and may add weight to the exercise as a whole in the eyes of senior management. The survey questionnaire should seek first to elicit general information about the work of the respondent and his or her department. The size and nature of the team will depend on the size of the organization or department to be audited and that of the survey sample. It should be representative of all areas of the organization. * exploiting the resulting improvements. Using this as a starting point. It is recommended that the survey be carried out using a questionnaire supplemented by interviews with respondents. It is recommended that the data obtained from the survey should be easily transferable to an appropriate database structure to facilitate analysis. although there is no mention of follow-up mechanisms. * controlling costs. A mix of internal staff and external consultants may work well but it is strongly recommended that the consultants be chosen by the in-house information team to ensure that they possess genuine information expertise as opposed to being conventional management consultants. The latter is particularly important as not only will it assist in securing the resources needed for the audit but will establish channels for future communication. both internal and external. external and interdepartmental relationships. * rationalizing resources. Planning Careful planning is essential to realize the full benefits of an information audit. Both objectives and constraints should be defined and backing secured from senior management. The survey The choice of survey respondents may be based on organization charts complemented by other sources of information. preferably using systems which are well known in the organization. * blueprint of situation. the audit team should be established. flows and needs). Finally.

etc. In many cases the communication flow charts shown in the blueprint may well be significantly different from those indicated in the standard corporate organization charts. it established that the cost of each record added to the main bibliographical database (identification. and the areas where additional resources are needed. This pilot audit produced some useful results which have been used for the establishment of a pricing policy for ICO information services. Monitoring mechanisms The report should also recommend the setting up of mechanisms to ensure that the data revealed in the blueprint can continue to be monitored. journals. The remaining 35 per cent is spread over 19 further tasks. acquisition of the physical record and processing) was L14. e. and are presented largely as an example of costing and task identification. itemization of cost elements and descriptive analysis. If this is done. Case study A partial pilot information audit was recently undertaken at the International Coffee Organization (ICO). This identifies objectives and tasks carried out in the organization with responsibilities broken down by staff member. The blueprint. equipment).75. they need to be complemented by input and output figures to provide a full picture of the work undertaken. The organization is currently embarking on a new programme of action and hopes to undertake a more complete audit once programme priorities have been determined. with recommendations for action. based on cost of materials. To do this a number of transactional databases may be required.(All tables omitted) Figures are given in percentages and the number of tasks per objective are identified. services and materials (e. overlap. and where they are located. 22 November 2013 Page 3 of 5 ProQuest . while the cost of answering enquiries was L7. Since it was intended to be a pilot exercise the audit concentrated only on information resources and services identified in the organization's resources database. a repetition of the full-scale audit process may not be needed in the future unless substantial organizational restructuring occurs or there is a general change in corporate aims and strategy. Nevertheless.). resources in terms of staff. underutilization of resources and technology problems. This visibility factor alone may be sufficient to justify the audit in terms of its contribution to general management. Whether this be done or not. labour costs. but can be integrated into the framework revealed by the audit.g. databases. These tables should be seen as part of the audit blueprint. equipment. some of which. identification. Using the blueprint. resource listings. In effect the blueprint should reveal what actually happens and show up corporate nerve centres and gatekeepers together with informal communications networks.90. the exercise was incomplete in that it did not address the question of information on a fully corporate basis and ignored the area of communication flows.The results of the survey can then be used to create a blueprint of what actually happens in the organization with respect to the creation. pinpointing areas for rationalization and areas of unfulfilled needs. the audit report can make visible to senior management the role of information resources and systems. It allows gaps to be pinpointed as well as the identification of areas of duplication. in a fully costed manner. use and communication of information. The ICO is a small. and overheads (premises. a picture can emerge not only of the financial costs of information use but the contribution it makes to the basic functions of the organization. Table I shows annual expenditure on information-related objectives. it may also be possible to quantify the benefits of information. which can take the form of charts. cost.g. As a result it is possible to cost objectives and tasks. For instance. subscriptions costs. Report The results of the information audit as revealed by the audit blueprint need to be incorporated into a written report. will identify. Table II lists the eight most important tasks accounting for 65 per cent of the total costs of the ICO information unit. Depending on the findings. communications. intergovernmental organization based in London aiming to promote international co-operation on coffee matters and to act as a centre for statistical and other information on coffee. may already exist.

Vol. 2. 46 No. pp.).M. p. Subject: Resource allocation. 3 Taylor-Nelson AGB. K.R. Auditing. London. 7-9. Not only can they lead to more efficient general management but they can also promote a much more positive perception of the benefits accruing from the employment of qualified information professionals to manage the frighteningly wide range of information resources and services available in this last decade of the twentieth century. cited in Barclay. G. 1964. "The strategic information audit".. C.. Information management. AMACOM. Vol. "The information audit: a broader perspective".31-42. 5200: Communications & information management Publication title: Library Management Volume: 16 Issue: 7 Pages: 20 Number of pages: 5 Publication year: 1995 Publication date: 1995 Year: 1995 Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing. need also to be seen in terms of the contribution they may make to an understanding of how organizations function. Location: UK Company: International Coffee Organization Classification: 9175: Western Europe. References 1 Robertson. Firefly Communications. S. "Information for strategic management: a survey of leading companies". R. New York. 2 Harris Research Centre/KPMG Peat Marwick. pp. "The politics of information". 14 No. 5 LaRosa. 1990. 2. 20. London.. Limited Place of publication: Bradford Country of publication: United Kingdom Publication subject: Library And Information Sciences ISSN: 01435124 Source type: Scholarly Journals Language of publication: English Document type: PERIODICAL 22 November 2013 Page 4 of 5 ProQuest . UK. and Oppenheim. 4 Stanat. The Intelligent Corporation. (Ed.Concluding remarks Information audits. 34-6.. although a basic information management tool. Vol. "An evaluation of InfoMapper software at Trainload Coal". Managing Information. April 1994. pp. NY. R. "The corporate information audit". 1994. 1991. 5. 1 No.P. Library Management Quarterly. cited in Information World Review. C. in Stanat. Dubois is Chief of Secretariat Services at the International Coffee Organization. 1994. Aslib Proceedings.

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