Directing the flow

signpost in the fogThe flow of information is important to your business. For simplicity’s sake, there are two types of information; internal and external. As an information professional I can filter the information coming from external sources. Then ensure that it reaches the correct departments. Knowledge teams co-ordinate and synthesise this valuable information, and bring systems together.

Different yet similar

Different departments use the same information for different purposes. In my experience inefficient systems hamper information flow around the firm. The ‘fee-earners’ may have a dedicated intranet page which they use daily. A business support department may rely on external knowhow. Or there may be a specialist app which only one set of people can access but others could make use of it for different purposes. For example, the Land Registry, Companies House etc.

Let me give you a real life example. When I was putting together a pack about a potential client for business development purposes, I checked many sources. Credit information, conflicts and company structure/ownership was often only available from certain databases. So I needed to ask colleagues in finance, and risk and compliance departments.

Every little helps

The knowledge team will identify vital nuggets of information in a firm-wide intelligence search. This gives the firm their competitive edge. The difference between keeping and losing a client. Part of that edge depends on what the person is reading and assimilating. The databases information people have access to is important but being the filter for internal and external information is also crucial.

Being able to anticipate where the thought leaders are going to be writing is vital. Knowledge teams can alert users as to whom is worth reading. They may even know what those experts are reading. Much of this information is found in the usual high quality subscription sources. But because publications are unwilling to court controversy, people are turning to personal blogs.

The value of communication

People might value free information less than something written in the WSJ or Economist. Well-written and reputable independent blogs published by influential and interesting thinkers have their place. For instance, the Harvard Business Review or Inforrm blogs. These ensure that those in the know can make their voice heard. It enables an immediate creative exchange and diversification of opinion. Perhaps formal publications are unable to offer.

External information involves far more than setting up a search, saving an alert, and then letting it run. The source feeds need constant monitoring and updating as new quality material becomes available. Internal information is more than just sending emails around the firm. You need a single unified source to ensure that everything is available to everyone who needs access. There is no place for jealous and unnecessary gatekeepers.

Then the end user has to be in communication with the curator/administrator. Without this two way contact, there can be no efficient consumption of vital knowledge. The knowledge department is essential; we need to know our audience and trust them to tell us what they need. And they need to trust us to facilitate the technical aspects of services.