Cut the Crap: A method to determine the business value of electronic documents

Bax, Michiel (2010) Cut the Crap: A method to determine the business value of electronic documents.

Abstract:Research Background We are living in the information age. Never before information was so widely available, the Internet and the use of ICT in organizations have helped to make this possible. The number of information systems in organizations is growing and the systems are becoming more complex. As a result, the global accumulation of data was 5 Exabyte (1018) in 2002. The accumulation of data is becoming less and less controlled. The uncontrolled accumulation of data results in a number of problems for organizations: - People are spending on average 25% of their time looking for information. - More storage is needed with higher hardware, software and service costs. - The risk of losing important information increases. Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) has been developed with the goal to store data on the appropriate medium that provides the service level that is required in the phase of the lifecycle the data is in. At the end of the lifecycle the data is either archived or deleted, this way ILM aims to reduce the proliferation of data. The business value of data forms the basis to guide the data though its lifecycles. Determining the business value of data is complex because data value is resistant to quantitative measurement. The goal of this research is to find a method that can be used to determine the business value of data in a practical way. This research focuses on the business value of electronic documents. Research Approach This research starts with a structured literature review to search for suitable data valuation methods. Based on the outcomes of the structured literature review the ACE framework is selected as data valuation method. The ACE framework uses policies to determine the business value to documents. Earlier research showed that it is difficult for business people to understand how these policies have to be specified. Earlier research also showed that specifying the policies is a complex and time consuming task. The next section of the research therefore focuses on developing a method that can be used to specify the policies in the ACE framework. The goal of the policy specification method is to determine the business value of electronic documents by measuring the behavior of electronic documents and the characteristics of the users of documents. The behavior of documents is measured with ‘file system metadata’. The metadata provides information about document type, document age, last modification time of the document, document size, amount of use and document location. The position that the user of a document has in the organization is included as user characteristic. To test if it possible to determine a business value based on document behavior, a field test is conducted. In the field test the business value of documents is determined by the users using an ‘information value questionnaire’. The ‘file system metadata’ of the documents is collected to measure document behavior. ‘Cut the Crap’ MSc. Thesis – Michiel Bax 6 | P a g e To evaluate the usefulness and practicality of the designed method, experts are interviewed. In these interviews the designed method and the results from the field test are discussed. Research Results The field test showed the following causal relations between document behavior and the business value of documents (see also figure 0.1): - The business value is higher when: o The perceived amount of use is higher. o The last modification time is more recent. - The business value lowers as the document becomes older. - A higher grade of the user that completes the questionnaire results in a higher business value. Figure 0.1: Research Findings The interviews show many possible applications for the designed method in practice. Some examples are: - To select valuable documents to publish on a knowledge portal. - To help business people that have to decide which documents should be migrated to a new storage environment and which documents should be deleted or archived. - To reduce the gap between the work of archivists and the business environment. The experts support the use of a questionnaire because it allows business people to easily quantify the business value of a document. Furthermore, the questionnaire makes people aware the differences in business value of documents. They find the use of the questionnaire useful and practical. Using the causal relations between file behavior and business value to specify policies and to determine the business value of documents for which the business value is unknown, sounds promising to the experts. The experts also indicate that this approach needs more testing before if it is reliable enough to use in practice.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Industrial Engineering and Management MSc (60029)
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