Principle #2: One version of the truth

Information has one version of truth

This is the second blog of a series regarding Information Management principles: Information has one version of the truth. We all have encountered situations where there are multiple documents with the same name but with slightly different content or different lists with legal entities that were difficult to tell apart or we have based work on an outdated version and had to do rework.

This principle implies that an organisation prevents the spread of copies of
information through attention to behavioral change at co-workers and management to use references to information instead of creating copies. Managers should promote the right behavior through good examples like sending e-mail with links to documents or request co-workers not to send attachments. Next to using references co-workers also need to be educated in using versioning mechanisms.

This also means that you need information systems that are able to handle versions. Furthermore the IT infrastructure should selected and setup to ensure information can be referenced and that it is sized to handle the extra storage requirements as result of keeping version history.

For example a company’s mobile infrastructure must allow documents in a contract management system to be opened on a mobile, otherwise users will keep sending attachments especially if they know someone is likely to use a mobile device. The contract management system should have version history capabilities to ensure that the co-worker can access the latest version and if needed compare the latest version with a previous version.

In practice it is not always possible to refrain from creating copies due to technical limitations or availability requirements. In those situations it is important measures are put in place to ensure that the copy version is kept up to date automatically or manually.