1 Understand how to assess information and knowledge needs

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Unit 4: Improving the Management 

Unit code: T/504/5374
QCF level 4: BTEC Professional

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Unit aim
The aim of this unit is to give learners knowledge and understanding of the importance of managing communications to improve the flow of knowledge and information in the workplace for the success of the organisation.

Unit introduction
Information and work-based knowledge is the most valuable resource that an organisation possesses. The effective gathering, protection, analysis, processing and dissemination of information are vital to the success of any organisation. As globalisation and the 24-hour economy develops and increases, organisations must ensure that their information systems are reliable, efficient and able to cope with rapid change. This unit is designed to develop understanding of the interaction between communications, knowledge and information.

This unit will help learners to understand that communications do not automatically take place effectively in organisations and that both information and work-based knowledge is often insufficient when decisions are made.
Managers can improve the planning of their communications processes as well as their communication skills. This unit will help learners to understand why managers need to adopt a more inclusive approach to stakeholders affected by their decisions and why they need to network on a more structured basis.
Learners will also examine how managers can make the information and knowledge they gain accessible to other parts of the organisation.

Organisations whose information systems previously dealt purely with data processing have now introduced systems to support strategic management and decisions. Decision making depends on having information that is relevant and timely and that can be used to justify decisions taken. Information and communications technology (ICT) has changed many aspects of the decision- making process. In this unit learners will develop an understanding of the importance of analysing the information needs of an organisation at different levels and within different functional areas such as financial analysis, econometrics, auditing, production and operations, including services improvement and market research.
On completion of this unit, learners will understand the importance of effective information systems and how these systems contribute to the decision-making process.

Learning outcomes and assessment criteria
In order to pass this unit, the evidence that the learner presents for assessment needs to demonstrate that they can meet all the learning outcomes for the unit. The assessment criteria determine the standard required to achieve the unit.

On completion of this unit a learner should:

Learning outcomes

Assessment criteria

1. Understand how to assess information and knowledge needs

Describe the characteristics and sources of data that a selected organisation needs

Describe sources of information and knowledge needed to ensure effective decision taking

Evaluate the importance of information and knowledge in the management decision making process

2. Understand how to create strategies to increase personal networking to widen involvement in the decision- making process

Assess the benefits of personal networking

Evaluate the suitability of methods used to develop business relationships

Evaluate strategies for improving personal networking

3. Understand how to develop communication processes to improve the gathering and dissemination of information and organisational knowledge

Evaluate the effectiveness of the current communication processes in an organisation

Recommend improvements to ensure greater integration of systems of communication in that organisation

Explain the importance of producing a personal plan to improve own communication skills

Learning outcomes

Assessment criteria

4. Understand ways to improve systems relating to information and knowledge

Assess existing approaches to the collection, formatting, storage and dissemination of information and knowledge in an organisation
Recommend improvements to the collection, formatting, storage and dissemination of information and knowledge in that organisation
Assess the benefits of developing a strategy to improve access to systems of information and knowledge, taking into account any legal, ethical and  operational issues

Unit content

1. Understand how to assess information and knowledge needs
Information needs: requirements analysis, e.g. strategic, tactical, operational; data requirements, e.g. inputs, outputs, processing activities; information distribution
Sources: internal, e.g. financial, personnel, marketing, purchasing, sales, manufacturing; external, e.g. government, trade groupings, commercially provided, databases, research; data collection; primary sources, e.g. survey methodology, questionnaire design, sample frame, sampling methods, sample error; secondary sources, e.g. internet research, government and other published data; by-product data; official and unofficial sources

Characteristics of information and knowledge: types, e.g. qualitative and quantitative, tacit and explicit, official and unofficial, policy and opinion; formal and informal; quality of data and information, e.g. valid, complete, accurate, timely, fit-for-purpose, accessible, cost-effective, intelligible
Decision making and taking: decision-making tools and techniques; problem- solving process; types of problem, e.g. rational/logical/bounded, rational/messy/fuzzy/unbounded; communicating decision to stakeholders

2. Understand how to create strategies to increase personal networking to widen involvement in the decision-making process
Networking: identifying opportunities to build business relationships through networking; benefits of networking; skills to build business relationships, e.g. communication skills, body language, creating good first impressions, building rapport, empathy, courtesy, respect, acting with integrity; importance of confidentiality

Potential contacts: stakeholders, e.g. owners, managers, employees, team workers; customers, suppliers, debtors, creditors, government; formal, e.g. through general membership organisations, trade or industry associations, business/enterprise clubs; informal, e.g. through instant messaging, social networking
Strategies: formal and informal, direct or via media, relating and interacting trust and confidentiality, forming business relationships

3. Understand how to develop communication processes to improve the gathering and dissemination of information and organisational knowledge
Communication process: communication system, e.g. encoder, decoder, channel, message, noise, direction; purpose of communication, e.g. to inform, confirm, promote, make a request, instruct; perceptions; components of communication; verbal communication; barriers to communication, e.g. noise, language, environment; communicating in teams; communicating in a diverse environment; ethics and communication; communicating through email
Types of communication: meetings and conferences; workshops and training events; internet and email, written, e.g. letter, fax, invoice, flow chart; telephone; video conferencing one-to-one meetings

Developing communication skills: identifying own skills, e.g. verbal, non-verbal, written; areas for improvement; development of communication skills, resources required, timescales, criteria for success; self-perception and perceptions of others, e.g. Johari Window; feedback from others
Approaches: structured and coordinated, planned, formal and informal; investigate a decision-making system; stakeholders; gathering information; analysing performance, e.g. strengths, weaknesses; performance indicators; system evaluation; need for change; recommendations for change
Improvements: identifying changes; costs; benefits; implementation, e.g. action plan, setting SMART objectives, timescales, negotiation, collaboration, commitment, participation; milestones; performance indicators; success criteria; monitoring mechanisms
Strategy: advantages, disadvantages; meeting objectives; informal, e.g. face to face; formal in writing; sustainability

4. Understand ways to improve systems relating to information and knowledge
Storage: manual records; electronic records, e.g. management information systems (MIS); format, e.g. hard and soft copies; websites and mailings, access and dissemination
Style: presenting data, e.g. written, tabular, graphical, images, paper based, electronic; analysing data, e.g. trends, patterns and averages, consistency and reliability, validity and currency; communication channels; meeting audience needs
Legal constraints: relevant data protection legislation, e.g. Data Protection Act 1998, Freedom of Information Act 2000; other relevant legislation, e.g.

Computer Misuse Act 1990
Ethical issues: codes of practice, e.g. on use of email, internet, ‘whistle blowing’; organisational policies; information ownership
Operational issues: security of information and access, e.g. password levels, protection; backups; health and safety; organisational policies and procedures; business continuance plans; costs, e.g. additional resources required, cost of development; impact of increasing sophistication of systems, e.g. more trained personnel, more complex software

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