Information Management

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Executive Summary

The report aims to address the issue of information management within Lanway. Information, may feel is the most important resource any firm has, yet many firms have no appreciation of the cost, value or importance of the information they hold.

By first outlining the steps and findings of an information audit carried out within the firm, conclusions are then drawn as to what measures should be taken in order to increase the effectiveness of Lanways information usage.

The measures suggested are outlined in detail, with recommendations of both hardware and software. The report also establishes the need for information and for a company information strategy – highlighting the importance of aligning such a strategy with the overall business plan.

Background

Lanway Corporate Business Systems began trading in 1985 from a small market stall on Burnley market. Selling games only for the Spectrum range of computers (the most popular at that time) it began to build up a regular customer base. The firm continued in this way, until 1991 where the introduction of the personal computer led to a change in product and business activity.

With the introduction of both new hardware and software, Lanway was now in a position to manufacture and sell its own PC's. By moving into its own premises, the firm was now able to make substantial profit margins by building and pre-configuring a small range of machines. Lanway began to trade with other firms in 1994, at which point they were forced to expand both their existing premises and staff. They also began to diversify, moving into new areas such as networking technologies, the internet and more specialised hardware and software.

Lanway currently has a turnover of approximately 5 million and over 40 staff, both of which are expected to continue in growth. They manufacture around 200 PC's per week, each different in model, make and specification. The company classes itself in the batch manufacturing bracket.

At present, the firm can be split into 5 departments. Sales, Accounts, Networking, Repairs and finally Production or Workshop. The firm is completely networked using a mixture of Microsoft™ and Novell™ technologies. Individual internet access and email is available to all employees. All hardware and software configuration work is carried out in-house.

Because the firm has grown in the manner that it has, many of the systems and functions in use have grown from a bottom up fashion, as opposed to a more strategic top level approach. Initial observations would suggest that information management within the firm does not differ from this.

Information Audit

An information audit is the assessment of the information held by an agency and of its information activities. (Australian Audit Commission 1999).
The purpose of an information audit is to assess, not only what types and levels of information a firm may hold, but how well it meets the needs of the company. Different components of information may already be controlled, such as naming conventions or security passwords, but in most cases firms have little understanding of the relevance, cost or value of the information they hold.

Therefore in order to ensure that all relevant areas were covered, a formal plan was first drawn up. To ensure that useful conclusions could be drawn, the objectives and scope of the audit were assessed. These included

What types of information sources exist
Are they still relevant
Are they currently accessible
Do employees know they exist

Formal documentation was then designed, in order to maintain a consistent theme by all involved. This too added to usefulness of the findings. Finally an assessment of the overall findings was carried out, to ensure that all anomalies and incoherent data could be accounted for. Only then, based upon the findings were recommendations produced.

After analysis of Lanways current...
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