Tasks for Modern Info Pros: Proactively Create Solutions
In November 2013, SLA published The Evolving Value of Information Management, a report summarizing the results of research commissioned by SLA and the Financial Times. The report, which was based on surveys of and interviews with information professionals and senior information users, identified 5 essential attributes of modern information professionals and set forth 12 key tasks they must perform.
Several SLA members have agreed to share their thoughts about the 12 tasks. In this post, Karen Reczek encourages information professionals to integrate their products and services into as many functional areas of their organization as possible.
Business solutions are everywhere—just look around!
Every organization has functional departments like human resources, IT, sales, marketing, business development, technical services, finance, and customer service. If you are in an information management or service function in an organization, all of these people are your stakeholders. You need to continually look for ways to integrate your information and knowledge products into as many functions as possible. This serves to connect your group with all areas of the business, thereby providing you with a better understanding of the overall drivers and priorities and, at the same time, making your department indispensable.
When I worked at a global consumer product testing company, the information center handled technical information requests from the laboratories and provided access to engineering and regulatory documents. As I learned more about the organization, I came to understand that there were numerous ways an information specialist could make an impact:
- The marketing department needed background information on new regulations so they could write authoritative technical bulletins to send to the organization’s clients. The information center developed a process to identify new and changing regulations of impact and provide source material.
- The quality department followed a quality management system so they could be accredited, and as part of this system they had to track changes to critical standards. The information center developed a new document control service to support the quality system.
- The sales force had to identify new potential clients. The information center launched a prospect research service to identify companies and contact information related to specific industries and locations.
- The acquisitions department required background information on companies as part of their due diligence. As we learned more about the business, our group began to make recommendations for acquisitions.
The information center also served multiple functional areas by tracking the competition. For example, we managed a competitor alert service, updated company profiles, and performed SWOT analyses. We also provided company profiles complete with summations of sales figures, recent news, and company history. Business line leaders wanted timely market analysis to create business plans or identify new markets, so we provided customized market reports that synthesized existing published market data, which we elucidated with charts, graphs and tables. The result was easily digestible information for a lot less than it would have cost to purchase a year-old market research report.
Creating these reports was a lengthy process, but in the end they were of great value to the planning and development process. Our group excelled at preparing them, and we proactively started to include our recommendations. I realized we had achieved success as a business solution partner when a company employee told me, “The information center is the heartbeat of the company!”
To make your library or information center the heartbeat of your company, take the following action steps:
- Identify the information needs of each part of the organization and tailor solutions to those needs.
- Understand the business and the competition, especially if you want to demonstrate value.
- Ultimately, if a new initiative or project is started, you want your users to think about including information professionals on their team.
—Karen Reczek is standards information services manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Any large business structure consists of several units, and local teams are formed in each department who are competing with each other. Spy app can play a key role in this struggle.