The Information Lifecycle

The Information Lifecycle

Managing business information from creation to destruction.

In this post, I introduce the information lifecycle as a framework for helping us to think about the management of enterprise information. Information that is stored in systems such as enterprise content, document and records management systems.


Information Life Stages
As a starting point, we can think of organisational information products in terms of three broad life phases: CREATION, USE and DISPOSITION.

First information products are created and introduced into our system. They are then available for use by people within our organisation or externally by, for example, customers, business partners etc. Finally, when specific information has no further relevance in the day to day life of the company and it has reached the end of its useful life, it enters the disposition phase.
Thus, the information goes from being ACTIVE and in use, to being SEMI-ACTIVE and finally INACTIVE or no longer in existence.

Information Management Activities

In each of these three phases (creation, use and disposition) the information is subject to different management activities.

In the creation phase the information is AUTHORED (for example, it is created using a Wordprocessor, blogging or Wiki tool etc.) or CAPTURED from somewhere else (for example, it could be scanned from a paper document or imported from another system).
As part of the creation phase the information must also be DESCRIBED and ORGANISED. That is, metadata is added to the information to structure, classify and organise it. This helps with its management and also makes it findable so it can SEARCHED for and RETRIEVED by users.
The information is then available for use and it may also be RE-USED– that is, parts of the original information product might be extracted and used to create a new product. For example, parts of a product description leaflet might be extracted and used in a press release. In this case, the press release is a new information product and it too must be describer and organised so it can later be found and retrieved.
At some point the information becomes less useful (for example it is out of date or superseded) and at this point it will be EVALUATED. There are three possible outcomes from this evaluation.

The first option is that, after evaluation the information is still considered useful and so it is RETAINED IN USE and remains in the system.

The second option is that the information is still required for legal or business reasons but not in active use. In this case, the information is RETAINED IN AN ARCHIVE or moved to external storage, from where it could be retrieved in the future if required.

The third option is that the information has no further use and no requirement to retain it – in this situation the information is DESTROYED.

Information Governance Activities

In addition to these information management activities there are also information governance activities which span the entire information lifecycle.

We need to ensure INFORMATION COMPLIANCE in order to meet legal, regulatory and risk management requirements and to ensure that the information is protected and secure.

We also need to address INFORMATION STEWARDSHIP requirements. It should be clear who is responsible for managing the information throughout its life and for ensuring information quality.

Finally, we have to consider PRESERVATION and the long-term management of our information assets and ensure that information is adequately preserved so that, in the case that it is required in the future it can be retrieved and accessed. That means, the content is still readable.

Overall, the information lifecycle provides us with a framework for thinking about the range of functions and activities that are required to effectively manage information products across their entire lifecycle. We can also use it to guide our evaluation of specific enterprise content management systems and assess their capability to meet these different information management requirements

Related Information

Publication date: 2015-08-12