T. Kanti Srikantaiah
iSchool at Maryland
An information audit is the process of reviewing the information environment of an organization to identify the information needs of individuals within an organization as well as those of the organization itself. It identifies information created within the organization and assesses its value. It reviews the use of
internal and external information resources. It maps information flows and develops knowledge and information maps of the organization.
Complimenting the knowledge/information audit, environmental scanning is how managers keep in touch with their external environment as well as with what their
own organization is doing; understanding these issues allows the manager to initiate change in response to what he learns. Information professionals may use
scanning both in their roles as managers of their own departments and as providers of information to other staff involved in monitoring the environment. Environmental Scanning will explore the theoretical issues associated with identifying the types and sources of information relevant to departmental and organizational scanning needs as well as the practical issues associated with collecting that information. There is no single right or wrong way to conduct an
environmental scan. It can be as simple as regularly surfing Web sites and reading magazines. Or it can be as sophisticated as conducting formal literature reviews, distributing surveys, and convening focus groups. Methods and techniques for collecting information about an organization’s internal and external environment will be discussed. The organization’s financial and human resources as well as its strategic priorities should determine the size and scope of the project.
Both environmental scanning and knowledge/information audit are valuable tools for Information Managers.
Choo, C. W. 2002. Information Management for the Intelligent Organization: The Art of scanning the Environment. 3rd ed.
Henczel, S. 2001. The Information Audit: A Practical Guide.