The National Archives (TNA) has evolved a working definition.
“An Information Asset is a body of information, defined and managed as a single unit so that it can be understood, shared, protected and exploited effectively”
In other words information assets have recognisable and manageable value, risk, content and lifecycles.
So far this is obvious, but what do you do next? I suggest that you spend a few hours to try to define the information assets you have in your business and then record these in an information asset register.
To assist in creating and maintaining an information asset register, TNA developed a template. It addresses these issues:
- Who has to be able to find the information?
- What resources do they need to be able to access and open it?
- How is one able to use or work with this information?
- Is it possible for users to understand what the information is, and what it is about?
- Can you trust that the information is what it says it is?
An Information Asset Register is valuable to you and to your business because it can help prevent errors, omissions, misunderstandings and any number of blind alleys. As an optional extra, I recommend that you also identify the technical dependencies of your information assets, because future changes to technology will impact how you access and use the information, and vice-versa.
Once you have worked out what your information assets are, you could also think about:
- An Information Risk Register, which can be a simple spread sheet; shared and updated regularly, it could encourage wider interest in Information Management and Security.
- An information audit; but starting with an information survey is simpler. This is also an opportunity to map the technology detail for your most valuable information.
- Conduct a review of the challenges and costs of storing your information. You might find some obvious savings when looking at your information slightly differently.
- Identifying what is redundant, what is out of date, and what needs to change. Why do we hang onto so much information “just in-case”? Often the answer is because we have never taken a moment to think about it.
- Reuse and de-duplication of your information. I guarantee you’ll be shocked when you look at the amount of unstructured information on shared drives, and see the amount of wasted effort to recreate that which already exists.
Interested to know more?
The National Archives has loads of guidance on their Website about Information Asset Registers, the role of Information Asset Owners, how to map information to business needs, and how to map technology dependencies.
Have a great week.
About the Author: Adam Blackie is an author and a professional Interim Manager who leads information management teams through their change programmes. He works with organisations in the UK to change the way technology is used by staff and their customers.