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Developing an organization’s staff and technical capacities for openness
Version 1.0 May 2014
An organization needs to invest in skills and technology if it intends to be involved in the world of digital information as a user and producer. How an organization develops infrastructure and staff roles, and the ways in which they interact, plays a central role in the effectiveness of its’ information strategy and activities and their openness. What aspects of your organization will need to be invested in for development towards greater openness?
IMARK Module ‘Strategic Approaches to Information’ Unit 5 ‘Organizing and managing your information activities’ contains 5 lessons which introduce this subject.
The structure of an organization (the way that staff are organized and how they relate to each other) will be dependent on its’ strategy and other factors such as its’ stage of growth. Different approaches to structure can be considered, such as functional, divisional, matrix or project structures. All offer different advantages and disadvantages. These issues are covered in IMARK Module ‘Strategic Approaches to Information’ Unit 5 ‘Organizing and managing your information activities’ lesson 5.1 Strategy and structure.
For more detailed coverage of the structure of organizations see Pathfinder International in the Resources list.
2. People and skills
The assessment and development of staff skills should be carried out in relation to the organization’s information strategy [see Pathway 1.1.2. Developing a strategy and policies for openness]. The elements of the strategy will indicate what skills are needed in the organization. An audit can be carried out of skills that are currently available vs. those that are needed. The outcomes of this audit will suggest different possibilities: 1. training and development of existing staff; 2. recruitment of new staff; 3.alliances with other organizations. See IMARK Module ‘Strategic Approaches to Information’ Unit 5 ‘Organizing and managing your information activities’ lesson 5.2 People and skills which deals with people and skills in detail and in particular the formation of alliances between organizations.
In addition CIARD Pathway 1.1.6. Form partnerships for information and knowledge management deals specifically with the formation of partnerships.
Underlying skill development should be the need for all staff to become effective and efficient information users. Information users in an organization need to be information literate. CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) defines this as: "Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner."
If the staff of an organization do not have the necessary skills to use their computers and other equipment to access and share information effectively, then other technological and staff investments will be undermined. Any costing of an information infrastructure should include activities to enhance the information literacy of all users (see above), and the specific training of people who have to perform specialized tasks to keep everything working.
A general introduction to the technical infrastructure required by an organization is provided by IMARK Module ‘Strategic Approaches to Information’ Unit 5 ‘Organizing and managing your information activities’ lesson 5.3 Technology, which includes computers, networking and servers, accessing the internet, security and digital preservation. Issues particularly to do with low internet bandwidth environments are covered.
4. Costs and resources
A programme of strategic investment in an organization needs careful assessment and planning of the costs involved. The subsequent continuing management of the systems and people will benefit also from this financial management and awareness of costs. Decisions will be needed at every stage on how to invest in staff and technology most effectively. IMARK Module ‘Strategic Approaches to Information’ lesson 5.4 Managing Costs and Resources introduces aspects of strategic financial management, and also indicates ways of minimizing the costs of accessing quality information on the internet, including library consortia and Open Access.