An information review is a process for identifying and evaluating the ability of your agency's core information assets to meet your business needs. An information asset is information in any format which supports a business process.
An information review is the basis for an effective information governance regime and is a key action identified in the
Digital Continuity Plan. It focuses on the value of information as a business asset, rather than on the technology used to capture or manage the information.
A Check-up 2.0 self-assessment provides a whole-of-agency perspective of information management capability and can include major business information systems, but it does not address individual information assets in detail.
The main outcomes of an information review are:
Secondary benefits of an information review include:
Check-up 2.0 is a self-assessment tool developed by the National Archives for agencies to assess their information and records management capability. The Australian Government Digital Transition Policy requires all agencies to complete an assessment and submit it to the Archives each year from 2011 to 2013. The information from your assessments will guide you in planning improvements.
An information review is related to the following Check-up 2.0 questions:
1.3 How comprehensive is your agency's information architecture?
1.4 How well does your information and records management strategy identify who is responsible for information and records management?
2.2 How effectively does your agency manage Cabinet documents in accordance with the provisions of the Cabinet Handbook?
3.1 How comprehensively does your agency perform audits of its information and records management functions and the information and records management aspects of other business activities?
4.1 How comprehensively is your agency managing the information and records of its high risk business?
8.1 How comprehensively has your agency identified what records need to be created and captured?
13.1 To what extent does your agency have a strategy to manage electronic records for as long as they are required?
16.1 To what extent does your agency identify where digital records are created?
16.7 To what extent does your agency discourage the creation and use of paper records?
The scope and steps in an information review will vary with the size and complexity of your organisation and your information assets. It is important that an information review should:
It may be useful to take a staged approach to conducting the information review by establishing priorities or a sequence of business areas or business processes.
You will need a senior management sponsor or champion who understands the benefits of an information review and is prepared to support the project.
You may need to prepare a business case or project brief in accordance with your agency's policies and procedures, and the governance and management arrangements for the review will need to be agreed before commencing.
Ensure that the amount of effort in the review is appropriate to your agency. You may consider initially focussing on core business functions or identified areas of risk
Gather data by holding focus groups, interviewing key stakeholders or surveying staff. You should also consider any information gathered in previous reviews or as a part of your Check-up 2.0 assessments. By using the older information as a 'baseline' you can tailor your questions to suit.
Draft the questions carefully as responding to questions can be burdensome and meaningful analysis of the responses can be challenging if questions are not framed with a clear purpose in mind.
Key questions to consider are:
Depending on the purpose of your information review, you may wish to collect additional data about some of the following areas:
When analysing the data, you should be able to identify your agency's information assets and the strengths and weaknesses of that information to support your business. Issues need to be prioritised against organisational performance and risk, as well as the likely cost and time to address the issues.
You should be able to identify information assets that are suitable for inclusion in an information asset register. This register can be used:
When documenting the findings of the review, you should highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each information asset and which business processes the information supports.
Potential weaknesses of information assets include those that:
Your report should outline the key issues identified and an overview of the significance and status of each. Recommendations for further projects or action should be based on the reporting framework that is in use in your agency.
Business processes are always changing. You should regularly review the status of your core information assets and update your information asset register. This will ensure the currency of the data gathered as well as the being able to amend or update your recommendations to reflect any changes or developments in your agency's core business.
The method of conducting an information review outlined in this advice is one way of proceeding. There may be other methods more suitable to your circumstances. There is no agreed 'best practice' method, but the method should be scalable and should be adapted to meet the needs of your agency.
An 'information review' is sometimes referred to as an 'information audit'.
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner also has further information on information asset registers and providing public access to information.