The Organization of Electronic Documents in Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs)
Author: Martin van der Walt, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Every business generates internal information through business processes such as planning, finance, human resources management, production and marketing. Businesses also need information about the external environment, especially for the purpose of strategic planning, and this information is gathered by using external resources such as the Internet, online information services and government and industry organizations. The information created internally and gathered externally can relate to customers, suppliers, products, services, government policies, legislation, economic and social trends, etc. If managed and used effectively this information can make a significant contribution to the success and competitiveness of a business. A problem is that operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, office software such as MS Office and the literature about information management gives very little guidance as to how exactly business documents should be organised for easy retrieval.
This paper reports on an empirical investigation into the information organisation practices of 24 South African small enterprises in three different regions of the country. The data were collected by means of questionnaires completed on site during interviews with the owners/managers of the businesses. The questions focussed on establishing what information was regarded as the most important (business-critical) and how the information in electronic format was organised. The questionnaire data were supplemented by observation of the relevant information systems. One of the outcomes of the investigation was a generic classification scheme, designed according to the principles of facet analysis, for use in SMMEs to organise electronic resources. The structure and features of this classification scheme will also be addressed in the paper.
About the author
Martin van der Walt is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Information Science at the University of Stellenbosch. He holds a DPhil degree in Information Science from the same university. His teaching responsibilities at present include modules on information organization and retrieval, competitive intelligence, information management, information security and project management, as well as the coordination of an MPhil program in information and knowledge management and supervision of a large number of research projects of Masters students. Most of his research has been in the field of information organization.
He is a member of the Library and Information Asociation of South Africa (LIASA), the SA Online User Group, the Special Libraries User Group and the International Society for Knowledge Organization (ISKO). For ISKO he serves on the Executive Committee (since 2002) and acts as consulting editor for Knowledge Organization, the official journal of the organisation.
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