Effective planning and management relies upon a rapid understanding of a few key facts. It follows that, to be effective, information should convey simple, succinct messages which provide clarity in the decision-making process. In an information-crowded world, timeliness is also a vital factor in determining whether information will be assessed, let alone used. The clearest, most relevant information will have little impact if its message is received too late.
- Information provides decision-makers with the ability to make guided choices. What is needed for these informed choices are brief summaries of complex issues, presented in such a way that they can be absorbed quickly without the need for special tools or expertise.
- Information can also be tailored to the needs of individual users, this form of aggregated or interpreted information is often termed an “information product”.
An information system is created to satisfy a user’s need for information based upon a specific requirement, usually the need to make a decision (i.e. decision driven information). When this information is stored and made accessible for others, this can be termed knowledge management. Knowledge management is a system of people, resources and procedures that produces and distributes information to relevant organisational members in a rapid, comprehensive, accurate and cost-effective way.
Knowledge management requires that organisations and institutions manage the organisation’s information resources - all of its collective knowledge (institutional memory). Knowledge and information is to be understood as a corporate resource.
As a first step towards achieving this institutional memory it is necessary to determine what data and information is available, either within the organisation or in other organisations. The data and information assessment matrix’s objective is to systematically assess the availability, accessibility and actual use being made of data and information. For example the use could be for district planning, regional planning, strategic planning, etc.