The Availability Principle refers to the timely and accurate retrieval of the information needed for corporate requirements, litigation and the support of the business processes.
Availability is the Principle that seems to resonate with most users. We do many information management assessments that require interviews with various key stakeholders in those corporations and the most common things we hear over and over are:
I don’t know what to call the document
I don’t know where to find anything on the network
I don’t know whether I am working on the most current version of the document
I don’t know where to put it when I finish it
Our users are confused and frustrated almost across the board
Number 1 in the Maturity Model says all of those things above are true. The other thing this might mean is that our corporate network is often unavailable. Have you ever said, “My email is down”. If this happened more than once a day then reliability of the network may also be an issue.
Number 2 says that we still have a problem producing information but we have started to do something about it in a positive way and we have some policies about where things should be stored but not across the board.
Number 3 in this Principle (the level we need to be at) indicates that we have defined where things need to go in most cases and we have a solution in place to assist in finding and dealing with the corporate information. One could say that a search engine would supply this but I believe that we need a good structure/file plan/taxonomy (I have heard it called many things) as well as the search tools. These days most corporate structures take the form of a functional classification system where we used to use a subject based structure called block numeric in the past. We also use a thing called “Big Buckets” these days which I will talk about more in the next principle of Retention.
Number 4 speaks about many of the things that we have touched on in previous principles such as policies and processes being in place and indicates that we can find things when required for litigation and also other things like freedom of information requests and even audits.
Number 5 indicates that senior management is happy with our efforts and supportive. We are also getting a measurable return on our investments in time and money as it relates to information management and that we continually train and improve our results corporately.
Retention is next and I hope that your users are not in the same boat as most of the folks that we interview during IM assessments.