Why do we talk about managing information as an asset when most of our information isn’t?

Managing information as an asset isn’t a new idea, but I have a significant problem with its practice.

In accounting parlance, for something to be an asset, we have to have the expectation of future cash flows into the organistion as a result of it.

So how much of the information we keep is actually an asset?

Has anyone ever done a revenue projection for their information?

If information isn’t going to generate a cash flow (or a cost saving), doesn’t that make it a liability?

2 thoughts on “Why do we talk about managing information as an asset when most of our information isn’t?”

  1. Perhaps this is why records management is increasingly being talked about in terms of risk management? As risk management is seen as a ‘necessary burden’, records management is a similar form of insurance activity.

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  2. We could have a very long conversation about this. I think risk management is dangerous for records because it only really gets invested in immediately after something bad happens and the problem with that is that even after something like that happening, no one wants to invest in cleaning up all of the things that happened before – they just want to say “from here, we’ll keep good records” – with the end result being that the quality of records sucks, and we get undervalued as a result.

    I think we need to double down on the value aspect because it’s the only thing that provides a consistent, verifiable, measurable and certain return. Value measurement though is hard, and it’s not taught to records managers – so they don’t think about it. So I think there’s both a problem of people don’t know how to recognise when they’re producing value, and they also don’t know how to measure and report it.

    Simple example – a records manager I talked to last week had just retitled a whole file series to match another system. Every week they had 15 to 20 requests where people had looked for records and not found them – so they’d sent a request to the records team. He retitled the whole file series so that they didn’t have to. That’s a great value producing activity, the problem is that he didn’t think about it like that ahead of time, so he didn’t capture the request volume, measure the search time of the people in the team and his own team, and then write a business case for actually taking that action – so that value is invisible to the organisation, even though it’s actually a high value productivity generator that will save the organisation a lot of money over time.

    I think we have to get focused on that sort of activity. We don’t have time to do it, but we don’t have time because we don’t have enough people – so we have to start taking the time so that we can show our value, get more people and get time for it.

    What do you think?

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