Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Information policy best practices 5: the marketplace-facing business cycle and its departmental perspectives

Posted in strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on December 19, 2013

This is my fifth installment to a series on the shaping and implementation of basic policy governing the collection, processing, storage, access and use, and deletion of information in a business, with its mix of public knowledge, and sensitive and confidential raw data and processed knowledge (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3, postings 457 and scattered following for Parts 1-4.)

After setting the stage for this series’ discussion in Part 1: reimagining a business in terms of its information, I began to explore and discuss information policy from the perspective of a series of functional departments, as each holds reason for claiming at least part ownership of this aspect of overall business policy. So far I have touched on:

• Information Technology in Part 2,
• Marketing and Communications in Part 3, and
• Finance, and Human Resources in Part 4.

I turn in this posting to consider a group of departments and services that all directly face the marketplace and a business’ customer base and for the most part as their only functional area of responsibility:

• Departments and services responsible for Product Development and Production, Sales, Customer Service and Support, and other direct participants in this marketplace-facing business cycle.

Ultimately, a business exists to provide products and/or services to a marketplace that will pay for them, providing revenue in exchange that can keep the business in operation. And for a for-profit business this also means generating sufficient return on investment for that business to both cover operating expenses and maintain a healthy reserve, and also to create profits that can be taken out by owners or shareholders. And ultimately, all of these departments and services rely on information in order to function, and both from within the business and from their marketplace. Ultimately, business information is essential to them if they are to function in a way that supports the business as it seeks to meet marketplace needs.

All of these departments and services, I add, also generate information too, with some of that feeding back into the organization itself for internal use and some developed for use in the marketplace. Much of their more externally usable information would go out to the marketplace through Marketing and Communications, as touched upon in Part 3 of this series. And for departments with personnel tasked with working directly with customers and potential customers, some would go out directly from them to the marketplace too – even if according to guidelines and policy set by Marketing and Communications.

• Still, as significant sources of and users of business intelligence and marketplace information, these departments and services all legitimately see themselves as holding at least a part-ownership stake in the overall business’ information policy and in how it is formulated and in how it is carried out in practice.

This is important and I add that I am addressing here, an aspect of information policy that is often overlooked.

• Either a business does not have a formal information policy, and if it doesn’t then the issues that such a policy would address and manage as a due diligence and risk remediation effort, are all carried out ad hoc – or rather through separate and even conflicting ad hoc processes by a lot of separate and disconnected departments and services, or
• A business has such a policy formally in place, but with ad hoc gaps the size of entire departments and services that do not effectively contribute to it or have a say in it.
• Or the overall business has a more inclusive approach to information policy and has within that a process for identifying and addressing potential ad hoc gaps, and for bringing necessary voices and perspectives to the table for this.

I am going to delve into the issues that I have just begun to note here in the above three bullet points, in a next series installment. More specifically, I will at least begin a discussion of general principles for developing information policy and also some more specific practices that would go into an inclusive and consistent business information policy. And I will at least begin to discuss how this approach would meet and hopefully reconcile the diversity of perspectives and points of view that arise within a business as different departments and services each seek to fulfill their own functional responsibilities and from their own due diligence perspectives.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 3. You can also find related material at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory.

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