Magazine article Information Today

InfoMapper: A Tool for Information Resources Management

Magazine article Information Today

InfoMapper: A Tool for Information Resources Management

Article excerpt

InfoMapper supports management and use of information resources, both internal and external, within organizations of virtually any kind. It provides a means for maintaining databases describing information resources of value, administrative entities and individuals served, functions and programs for which the resources are to be used, and means for access and processing. It can be used for strategic management of information support activities, since it relates information resources to users, and for operational management, since it provides a means for reporting on a number of relevant variables.

The program users an array of database structures specific to the needs in information management, together with means for organization of the stored data and reporting from them. The result is an exceptionally valuable tool, worthy of consideration by anyone with responsibility for management of the information resources for an organization.

The reports that can be derived permit the information resource manager to identify who does nor does not use materials that would be of value to their respective responsibilities. As a result, areas of lack, of overlap and duplication, or of potential sharing of information can be made evident. The extent to which specific information resources are accessible and in what ways can easily be identified. The data structures include fields for identifying costs and the means by which they will be recovered, thus supporting needs for accountability and cost recovery. Perhaps most importantly, use of the program permits the manager to centralize management of the full range of corporate information resources.

User Interface and Interaction

After the program has been installed and initialized (which will be discussed later), basic data about information resources, the users, and the relationships between them are entered by means of a succession of eleven screens that allow specification of relevant data which together constitute an IRE (i.e., an "Information Resource Entity"). The result provides the basic record from which all other operations and results are developed. The range of potential entities is unlimited, encompassing internal documents (technical and administrative reports, correspondence, files, et.) and external sources from print publications to electronic databases and online services.

Each screen permits (or, in some cases, requires) the specification of parameters that characterize an information resource or a user of it. The potential characterizing parameters include but are not limited to the following:

* using organizational unit or individual (which is the initiating file entity and serves as the primary means for indexing the record),

* nature of the information resource, including its source and whether it is automated, manual, or combined,

* degree of availability, including confidentiality and conditions for access,

* "beneficiaries," including not just the actual "users" but those who may ultimately benefit whether users or not,

* subject foci, functions or programs that are supported by the resource, and other criteria for retrieval,

* means for access and use,

* means for management and processing.

Standard forms can be printed out for manual recording of these kinds of data, along with others, which can then serve as the basis for data entry.

Subsequent Processing

The program then will automatically create "composite records" which inter-relate IREs of the same kind, whatever may have been the organizations unit or individual to which they were initially related. It is this capability that permits ready identification of overlap, duplication, and potential sharing of common information. One important result for management can be standardizing of such shared data resources.

The reporting capabilities are extensive, allowing the information resources manager to see the relationships among resources and users and to display the terminologies used (serving as a basis for development of subject and name authority files and for "data dictionaries"). …

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