Quantifying the Contextuality of Information Resources

Much is said in web design and information architecture circles about the importance of minding Contextuality in the creative process.  Yet, very little is provided on means to achieve this when prioritizing change objectives (aka features).

One way that this is resolved is by adapting quantifiable factors in the information asset inventory scheme that reflect the value of the asset to the organization, the particular workflow that it supports, the complexity of managing the function and its replacement cost.

We can sort through these concerns using simple quantification schemes.

The value of the asset to the organization is tied to its importance within the workflow it is a component of.  So, lets start there.

A workflow component can be quantified by assigning a score of 1-100 depending on the importance of the information resource in achieving the workflow goals.

The workflow itself has a priority factor that is associated with how much it impacts the revenue model of the business, how much value it adds to the enterprise.  A critical workflow component could be categorized as a level A asset, whereas archival (maintenance) workflows or activities could be categorized as a less critical level B, C, D, or E asset.

To understand which resources should surface as the focus for change, two more factors must be accounted for: management and replacement costs.

The complexity or cost of carrying out a function to complete a workflow or activity relates to the capital and human resources invested in its upkeep.  If specific monetary quantities are unavailable or difficult to estimate, an analyst can use a score in the scheme that emulates the impact of cost.  For example, an asset that is complex to administer will have a score of 75, and one that is trivial in upkeep will have a cost score of 15.

The same approach can be applied to factoring the replacement cost (the complexity in improving the present state) of a workflow feature.  The harder it is to re-engineer the process, the greater its replacement cost score.   This score is also affected by the perception of additional value that would created by implementing a change strategy, the value-add potential.  The greater the marginal value potential in a proposed improvement to the workflow, the lower the replacement cost complexity score.

I have applied a 0-100 factoring scheme in the above examples because it allows for greater variability in how enterprise stakeholders will perceive the value and cost of an information asset.

Establishing a well accepted scheme to document critical information resources and evaluate their value to the organization, one that is revisited cyclically, can help to  inform decisions on which resources must be prioritized for change.  Using sound techniques such as these will ensure that your organization invests constrained resources to improve process performance and eliminate overhead where it matters most.

This post is intended as food for thought–i claim no expertise on this, just a whole bunch of wasted time to show for…  but, it’s well researched that you are going to need an agreeable evaluation scheme to build consensus, see http://www.big6.com/.

There are many other means by which one can establish the value of information resources.  I’ve learned over time, however, that using simple schemes such as those described above allow a change manager to more easily gain collaboration and acceptance from functional group managers within an enterprise.

Now, go CHANGE the World!

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