Using Information

Types of information

Information

Information is nothing more than facts which have been provided or learned about something or someone.


Data

Data is information but in a organised form which can refer to or represent conditions, ideas or objects. Data is often shown in alphabets, numbers or symbols.


Qualitative

Qualitative information is seen as descriptive information, it can not be measured with numbers. The means of collecting qualitative information is often time consuming so the amount of data collected would be smaller than if it were quantitative information. The main methods for collecting qualitative data are individual interviews, focus groups, observations and action research.


Quantitative

Unlike qualitative information, quantitative is data which can be measured numerically and then proven as a fact. This information is seen as more reliable and objective than qualitative information. Some means of collecting quantitative data include questionnaires, face-to-face or telephone interviews and observing and recording well-defined event.


Primary

Primary data is data which you or your organisation has gathered and uses itself. It is original and reliable because it was collected by you. Primary data is gained straight from a source so means of collecting it include interviews, survey or any other way which collects data from the source.


Secondary

Secondary data is data which has been provided by somebody else, this information can come from newspapers, directories, books, maps, DVDs, websites, Television and the radio. It is possible for secondary information to be biased, this means that it may be written to give only one opinion or to influence peoples views.

Specific Functional Areas Within A Business

Marketing

The marketing side of a company deals with all the advertising and general marketing of the company and any of its products. To do this job effectively, they will need to collect information about their target audience which would most likely be done via surveys or questionnaires. Depending on their product, companies will ask people things such as how old they are, their gender and if they would buy the specific type of product, they may even ask what the user would expect from their product and other questions like those. They would then use these questions to market their product depending on the age and gender of those who said they would purchase such a product, they may use any other information gather to aid their advertising or pass it through the company to help improve the product.


Purchasing

This section of the company deal with buying the goods and services which are required for the company and negotiating business contracts. If a department within the company needs to buy something then they must first go through the purchasing department. They try to get the best prices for whatever products or services they are buying, to do this they must gather information from a range of different sources about different product/service providers and then compare them to see which give the best value, after comparing they will decide where they buy from.


Manufacturing

A manufacturing department only exists within companies who create a product from raw materials. The raw materials are bought from external suppliers through the purchasing department. The information they produce include designs and schematics for products as well as maintenance records and production records. The designs and schematics are used to show how the product will be or is created.


Finance

The finance department is response for all the money in the business, they deal with accounts and of course, finances. The accounts deal with purchase and sales invoices, debts, credits and VAT returns, the department also deals with payroll, national insurance and pensions. The main type of data they deal with is quantitative because it's all numbered data. They will need to keep track of how much of a profit the company is making, this can be done by keeping information on how much money is spent and how much is made by the company and then comparing them will get you the profit.


Administration

The administration departments job is to provide systematic support in every area of a business without the interruption in services. They keep an channel open throughout the entire business so that everyone can be informed of new changes and how they may affect the organisation. The point of this department is to ensure that each other department is working at full capacity, this department may have information on other departments such as how efficient they are performing, how they are doing in general. This lets them know which departments require assistance.


Personnel

This department deals with the recruitment, training and welfare of employee's, they help organising interviews as well as writing job descriptions. They deal mainly with qualitative data as they deal with job information and other descriptive writing, they also go through CV's with is a majority of qualitative information. This department will keep information on employee's, standard things like name, age, gender, job, etc...

They will also keep a record of how many types an employee has missed work or called in sick, these records help decide if they should contact the employee missing work.


Sales

The sales department works with the marketing department to ensure the realisation of optimal revenue from customers/clients. The sales department must develop and implement a protocol to sell a product/service which is suitable to the nature of that product/service while also connecting it to potential customers/clients. Sales may share records with marketing showing how much product/service they sold, they may also keep records of which protocols go with which products. They could use their sales records to change which protocols to use on certain products.

Characteristics Of Good Information

The best kinds of information always comes under a set of characteristics, the general are valid, reliable, timely, fit for purpose, accessible, cost-effective, accurate, relevant, right level of detail, reliable source and understandable by the user. I will now go through each, describing the characteristic and giving a realistic example.


Valid

Being valid means that the information has been proved as correct and is useful for the readers knowledge. The opposite would be Invalid information which would be incorrect information which is unsuitable for the user. An example of valid information would be a book about anatomy written by a well respected doctor, being a doctor, you know he has extensive knowledge on the human body. Other doctors would also be able to read the book and acknowledge the validity of it.


Reliable

Reliable information is similar to valid information, if it is reliable than you can rely on it to be correct, it should be from a valid and trusted source. As an example, I could just use the previous one because you would expect an anatomy book written by a doctor to be reliable but I'll add another just to be sure you understand. Okay, a bank statement would be seen as reliable because it has been sent from your bank and they have access to all your bank details so it's highly unlikely that anything would be wrong.


Timely

This means that the information is received at a suitable or opportune time. An example of timely information is the real-time information that air traffic controllers receive. They get information on the location and speed of all aircraft in its air space, the information needs to be in real-time because if any information was delayed then it would put the aircraft and controller in danger.


Fit For Purpose

Information which is fit for purpose means that it is relevant to what it is needed for. For this example I will use the last one but explain it differently so the air traffic controller needs his information in real-time but this is useless if he can't use the information, the information he requires is what he needs to do his job appropriately and in this case, he needs the location and speed of all aircraft in his airspace. He can't do his job correctly with the wrong information which isn't fit for his purpose.


Accessible

All information should be accessible, this means that it needs to be easy to get to. Any information gathered should be store away in a way that it can be easily accessed at any point. An example of accessible information would bank information, as most is stored online, you just need to log into the web site and you can receive any information that you need regarding your bank account. This information can be accessed any time as long as you have an internet connection.


Cost-effective

Some information you would need to pay to retrieve or to conduct, it being cost-effective means that the information is worth the amount of money and time you are putting into it. So say you own a company who sell products, you may expend some money into creating a questionnaire and getting answers from the public to gather what people think about your product. You don't want to spend too much on the questionnaires but you also want good answers.


Accurate

Accurate information is information which is correct in all details. Information that isn't accurate is of no use to the reader as it needs to be reliable and correct, wrong/inaccurate information can lead to wrong decisions. Accurate information is full of facts, the information should be completely reliable. Once again, bank details should be 100% accurate as banks store all information in their database and it is all factually based so any information retrieved from your bank should be 100% accurate.


Relevant

Information that is relevant is information which is directly related to your need. If a company was trying to cut down on their costs then they may view their electricity or gas bills and try to see where they could cut money. The bill information is completely relevant to the companies need of cutting down costs.


Right level of detail

Information should be detailed and not short. The more it is explained, the more likely of it being understood. Information which is not properly clarified will not be useful for the user. You can have too much information though so try not to make it too complicated. If you had information about making a cake but all it said was that you needed flour then that would not be enough detail but too much detail would be if it said that you needed flour and then proceeded to name all the different brands of flour and how the choice will affect the rising of the cake.


Reliable Sources

If you require information for quite a serious reason then you want to make sure it comes from a reliable source/somewhere you can trust. If you wanted information pertaining to the population of a country, you wouldn't go to Wikipedia because anyone can change information on Wikipedia, it is not reliable. You would look the countries government who should have the most reliable information.


Understandable By User

Information needs to be presented in a way which the users can understand, if someone from a non-financial job in your business wanted sales information for the last year and you presented it to them with complex figures taken from a database with no clear totals then it's highly unlikely that they would be able to understand it. You would need to edit how the information is displayed to make it easier for the user to understand for example change it to a simple graph with clear instructions.


Knowing the characteristics of good information is essential in making good business decisions.