Having accurate, relevant and timely information is essential for any manager to make good decisions. But have you ever thought about how that information reaches you, or what happens to it after the decision is taken? Information is an essential management resource, just like money or staff – and it’s therefore essential to pay attention to how you manage it!
Many people assume that information management is the same as Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), but this is misleading. Although ICTs provide the tools for better information management, it’s the underlying management processes and practices that are important. Your organization already manages information – so why not learn how to do it better?
Information management is a huge topic; this short list of resources should be a good starting point for your organisation. If you have any questions, or are interested in more resources, please contact Paul Currion via email: paul<at>currion.net
1. Information Management for Development Organisations (second edition) by Mike Powell
This is the single best introductory text you can have – it’s well-written, comprehensive, and accessible. Based on many years of experience, Mike Powell explains how development organisations can improve their projects using simple tools and techniques for information management. Oxfam has offered this book as a free download, so go to the website right now!
The “digital divide” issue has become the centre of an entire movement of governmental, non-governmental and private sector actors, all focused on bringing the benefits of new technology to developing communities. The iConnect website has a lot of interesting material on their website, including a free newsletter and an extensive list of online resources. It’s also worth visiting the Eldis ICT for Development Resource Guide for more!
3. In the Net: a Guide for Activists by Jim Walsh
The Internet has changed the way that people around the world communicate with each other, but many organisations have yet to take advantage of the possibilities the internet offers for advocacy work and networking. This book is a guide to some of the issues that this raises; if you want practical guides to action, then you can also visit An Introduction to Activism on the Internet (from Backspace), or The Virtual Activist 2.0 (from NetAction).
4. eRider Starter Kit v.1 by Teresa Crawford, et al.
ICT is an important resource, but many smaller organisations struggle with it, often due to a lack of capacity or understanding. The eRider Starter Kit covers many of the practical aspects of ICT, as part of the eRider network’s commitment to supporting NGOs. You can find more resources at their website.
5. Wired for Good: Strategic Technology Planning for Nonprofits by Joni Podolsky
Although this book was written for the American NGO market, it still contains a lot of useful information on taking a strategic approach to introducing and managing technology in your organisation. If you’re already fairly comfortable with technology, or working for a larger organisation, you might also want to visit the Techsoup website for news, discussions and how-tos.
About the Author: Paul Currion runs a consultancy specialising in information management (www.currion.net). He is currently working with the Interagency Working Group (CARE, Save the Children, Oxfam, World Vision, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps and Catholic Relief Services) on improving ICT use in emergency response. He is also working on other projects, including research in the use of ICT to manage conflict, developing open source software for disaster response, and creation of a GIS data model for humanitarian work.
Copyright - Creative Commons Licence: you are welcome to link to it or reproduce this article, as long as you credit NGO Manager and Paul Currion.