BSBINM301 – Collect and Assess Information

BSBINM301 – Collect and Assess Information

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Introduction

This unit of competency specifies the outcomes required to gather, organise and apply workplace information in the context of an organisation’s work processes and knowledge management systems.

This manual is broken up into three Elements. They are:

1. Collect and Assess Information: To produce useful information, it is important that the right information for the assigned work is collected and from the right people. We will discover how best to do this here.
2. Organise Information: Once collected, information must be organised so the reader can readily acquire what they need. Options to achieve this are in this section.

3. Review Information Needs: Finally, checks are necessary to ensure that what you are providing meets the requirements of the person who needs it. Checks and balances are the topics of section three.

At the conclusion of this training you will be asked to complete an Assessment Pack for this unit of competency. The information contained in this resource will assist you to complete this task.

Element 1: Collect and Assess Information

Access Product and Service Information in Accordance with Organisational Requirements

What is Good Information?

Organising workplace information requires first finding the best usable information about a multitude of work fields. As individuals we need to be continually searching for facts about the organisation that will in turn give value to the function of the business, keep it operating in a legitimate fashion and enhance the organisation as a whole. We then assess the information related to our particular areas of expertise or responsibility, continually trying to determine the value to each of those fields.

The types of information that you may be required to collect can include:

Computer databases (e.g. Library catalogue, customer records)
Computer files (e.g. Letters, memos and other documents)
Correspondence (e.g. Faxes, memos, letters, email)
Financial figures
Forms (e.g. Insurance forms, membership forms)
Invoices (e.g. From suppliers, to debtors)
Personnel records (e.g. Personal details, salary rates)
Production targets
Sales records (e.g. Monthly forecasts, targets achieved)

It must be remembered that you are collecting for your organisation and therefore, it is their requirements that you must meet. There may be many but a major one is that of legislative compliance.

Legislation is the act of making or enacting laws. When people talk about ‘the legislation’, they mean a law or a body of laws. The legislation in a state or territory are the laws enacted specifically to control and administer the state or territory.

Regulations are the way that the legislation is applied. They are generally very specific in nature, and are also referred to as ‘rules’ or ‘administrative law’. These are administrative ‘rules’ that describe rights and allocate responsibilities. They can take many forms such as being legal restrictions established by a government authority, a self-regulating mechanism for an industry such as a trade association, social regulations such as ‘norms’, co-regulation or market regulation. They are actions of conduct imposing sanctions such as a fine.

You will need to be constantly aware of:

• Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Over the past 30 years the Commonwealth Government and the state and territory governments have introduced laws to help protect people from discrimination and harassment.

The following laws operate at a federal level and the Australian Human Rights Commission has statutory responsibilities under them:

Age Discrimination Act 2004
Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986
Disability Discrimination Act 1992
Racial Discrimination Act 1975
Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

The following laws operate at a state and territory level, with state and territory equal opportunity and anti-discrimination agencies having statutory responsibilities under them:

 Australian Capital Territory – Discrimination Act 1991

New South Wales – Anti-Discrimination Act 1977

Northern Territory – Anti-Discrimination Act 1996

Queensland – Anti-Discrimination Act 1991

South Australia – Equal Opportunity Act 1984

Tasmania – Anti-Discrimination Act 1998

Victoria – Equal Opportunity Act 2010

Western Australia – Equal Opportunity Act 1984.

Commonwealth laws and the state/territory laws generally overlap and prohibit the same type of discrimination. As both state/territory laws and Commonwealth laws apply, you must comply with both. Unfortunately, the laws apply in slightly different ways and there are some gaps in the protection that is offered between different states and territories and at a Commonwealth level. To work out your  obligations you will need to check the Commonwealth legislation and the state or territory legislation in each state in which you operate.

You will also need to check the exemptions and exceptions in both the Commonwealth and state/territory legislation as an exemption or exception under one Act will not mean you are exempt.

http://www.humanrights.gov.au/

• Privacy Act 1988

The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) is an Australian law which regulates the handling of personal information about individuals. This includes the collection, use, storage and disclosure of personal information, and access to and correction of that information. The Privacy Act includes:

○ 13 Australian Privacy Principles that apply to the handling of personal information by most Australian and Norfolk Island Government agencies and some private sector organisations
○ Credit reporting provisions that apply to the handling of credit-related personal information that credit providers are permitted to disclose to credit reporting bodies for inclusion on individuals’ credit reports.

The Privacy Act also:

○ Regulates the collection, storage, use, disclosure, security and disposal of individuals’ tax file numbers
○ Permits the handling of health information for health and medical research purposes in certain circumstances, where researchers are unable to seek individuals’ consent
○ Allows the information commissioner to approve and register enforceable app codes that have been developed by an app code developer, or developed by the information commissioner directly
○ Permits a small business operator, who would otherwise not be subject to the Australian privacy principles (apps) and any relevant privacy code, to opt-in to being covered by the apps and any relevant app code
○ Allows for privacy regulations to be made.

https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy-law/privacy-act/

• Ethical Principles

Ethics is a system of moral principles that helps us determine right from wrong, good from bad. Ethical principles refer to the values of openness, honesty, integrity, impartiality, accountability, tolerance, respect for people, fairness and personal responsibility.

Many organisations have implemented Codes of Ethics which outline the ethical principles, values and behaviours expected of staff in that organisation.

Most codes:

○ Define ethics as a system of moral principles that allows people to determine right from wrong, good from bad behaviour in their daily life or in a situation where there is a conflict of interest
○ Explain why the advertising industry needs a code of ethics
○ Set out how to behave in situations where there are ethical dilemmas
○ Identify ten basic principles as part of its voluntary code which it believes is ‘doing the right thing’.

It is important that businesses are in tune with the wishes of the society they serve or they run the risk of tarnishing their image, and alienating their shareholders, stakeholders and customers. This would be bad for business, reducing growth and potentially affecting profit.

• Codes of Practice

Codes of Practice are sets of guidelines and regulations to be followed by members of some profession, trade, occupation, organisation etc. They are not usually covered by law, but rather by agreement of participants or members. Data in the Codes of Practice database consists of several different types – Codes of Practice (Australian & International), Standards (Australian & International), Australian Design Rules and ‘Other’.

• Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act)

Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation is designed to ensure a safe and healthy workplace, and to reduce the number of injuries in the workplace by giving all staff responsibilities. Employers, self-employed people, those in control of work premises, machinery and substances, designers, manufacturers, suppliers and workers all have obligations with regard to workplace health, safety and welfare.

Although it differs in detail from state to state, in general Australian WHS legislation is aimed at achieving:

○ Provide and maintain a safe working environment and safe systems of work
○ Provide information to employees in relation to health, safety and welfare in the workplace.

Employees also have responsibilities under the health and safety laws:

○ Follow instructions and rules in the workplace
○ Work and behave in ways which are safe and do not endanger the health and safety of anyone in the workplace.

You can be disciplined by your employer or be prosecuted under the health and safety law in your state or territory if you do not comply.

WHS Regulations

WHS is regulated by Commonwealth and state and territory government bodies.

The next step is to look at the specific organisational requirements. These are the expectations of how you will behave when acting on behalf of your employer. Every organisation will have different practices for storing information. It is important that you fully understand how this is done in your organisation, and why.

Workplace policies and procedures for storage and access of information provide a guide for workers to follow, and if you are conscientious in adhering to these, information can be kept secure and in good order, and will be easily accessible to those who need it.

Organisational requirements may include:

• Code of Conduct/Code of Ethics

This is an agreement on rules of behaviour for a group or organisation.

• Information Protocols

Protocols put in place to avoid chaos or any blunder that may be a cause of embarrassment to a business. Many other institutions and organisations have protocols to make sure there is no untoward event or situation in times when senior management is not at duty. Protocols are to be followed in letter and spirit in all circumstances. Protocols are also deemed to be the most effective way of doing a particular task. Information protocols are the way that information is handled and managed in an organisation.

• Policies and Guidelines

Policies are written by organisations to ensure that staff and stakeholders act responsibly and make rational, well-informed decisions. They help it to be consistent in its approach to decision-making and problem-solving across the organisation’s locations if appropriate. In order for staff and stakeholders to understand their responsibilities within the organisation, it is very important that policies and procedures are adopted and clearly communicated to everyone.

Guidelines are developed to assist and guide members in the workplace in relation to policy implementation. Guidelines are also intended to complement
the development of local workplace policies and protocols.

A policy is a formal statement of a principle or rule that members of an organisation must follow. Each policy addresses an issue important to the organisation’s mission or operations.

A procedure tells members of the organisation how to carry out or implement a policy.

Policy is the ‘what’ and the procedure is the ‘how to’.

Policies are written as statements or rules. Procedures are written as instructions, in logical steps.

• Management and Accountability Channels

Accountability mechanisms can include formal top-down processes (such as meetings, Board of Director elections, consultations) or bottom-up strategies (such as participatory budgeting, team mobilisation and monitoring). Accountability also requires mechanisms through which staff, end users and stockholders can hold the organisation to account. These include direct mechanisms, such as balanced
scorecards on service and product delivery; unions and others representing staff, customer and stakeholder views in engagement with decision-makers; and more formal accountability mechanisms like complaints.

• Procedures for Updating Records

Organisations establish filing systems to accommodate the type of records they need to keep. These files need to be regularly updated and accurate to maintain the integrity of the files. A business might establish a centralised filing system (all the records are kept in the one place) or anon-centralised system (departments within organisations have control of their own records).

These files may be paper-based (in filing cabinets) or electronically filed (on computer systems), may be in fixed filing areas (filing cabinets or compactus units) or in a portable filing system (so they can be moved from one area to another easily). Inactive or dead files should either be destroyed or relocated to a storage area.

• Quality Assurance and/or Procedures Manuals

An official document produced by a business that details how its quality management system operates. A typical quality manual will include the organisation’s quality policy and goals, as well as a detailed description of its quality control system that might include staff roles and relationships, procedures, systems and any other resources that relate to producing high quality goods or services.

• Security and Confidentiality Requirements

Document Security is motivated by the fact that enterprises must secure many of the documents they process for reasons that include protecting a customer’s privacy in accordance with the law, and gaining an advantage over competitors by not sharing trade secrets. Currently, these enterprises must resort to organisational measures, since technical ones are impractical, insufficiently comprehensive or completely lacking.

The (long-term) vision of Document Security is to ensure that information in documents can be protected by mechanisms that enforce a security and privacy policy, and that the mechanisms are not limited to a particular platform or even document processor. The threat is that an organisation’s stakeholders (employees, consultants, shareholders etc.) who access sensitive documents are not trusted, because:

○ They may be careless in their use and distribution of data
○ Their software might be untrustworthy (e.g. compromised by a Trojan horse) even when the users are trustworthy
○ Some may actually be dishonest.

Most business operations rely on complete and accurate workplace documents for communication, information management and record keeping. Your role may require  you to write emails and letters, and complete documents and reports.You might prepare documents to be signed by delegated persons, or be authorised to sign certain documents yourself. Some information is protected by privacy and confidentiality policies that determine who can see it.

Organisations are often specific about how to present formal correspondence and case management notes, as well as reporting and record keeping, including for legal purposes. Workplace guidelines, templates and forms are often provided to ensure that these tasks are completed correctly. Misleading, incorrect or missing information is not only frustrating for the people who process or refer to the information; it could have client service, financial, duty of care or reporting implications for which your organisation is legally liable. If you are in rural or regional areas, incorrect information could delay important processes that could severely affect your client.

If you are unsure how to fill out forms or complete documentation, always ask – don’t guess.

The good news is, there is a great quantity of information available. The bad news is that a lot of that information is of limited value to us. We are bombarded daily with data and information in every conceivable form and we just try to navigate our way through a bewildering array of suggestions, warnings, pictures, numbers, and maybe even sound bites. At some point all of this is supposed to lead to some rational conclusion about what is right for us to organise and keep. As individuals, it is very difficult to know what information to absorb and what to screen out. What is the wheat and what is the chaff?

Basic guidelines to assist you in your quest could include:

• Accurate

Information provided must be truthful – the data that you provide must accurately reflect the situation under investigation by yourself and others.

• Current

The information that you gather must be useful in terms of the current timeframe. Make sure that you get rid of any information that is not applicable to the current  timeframe and replace it with something that is new. You will find that there are occasions when the information that you are producing ‘perishes’ or becomes out of date very quickly. In these cases, you need to ensure that there are procedures in place for adding new data quickly.

• Relevant

Relevant information refers to information that is useful for the task that it is being generated. In order for the information to be useful for you, you need to ensure that you have the skills to determine when information is useful and when it is not. If you do not have this skill, you will end up being overwhelmed with the amount of information that is available to you in a modern workplace.

• Specific

Specific information needs to be highly factual. It needs to contain information that has hard facts that you can refer back to as required to back up any points that you are making.

• Understandable

Good information needs to be able to be understood before it can be seen as being useful in a workplace. If information is not easily understood, it is difficult to actually use the data for the purposes that it was gathered for.

• Comprehensive

The information that you have gathered must contain all of the information that you require from it.

• Unbiased

We want the data that we collect to be as unbiased as possible. This means that we want information believed in a way that makes it as useful as possible without any interests in the data becoming obvious.

• Comparable

The information over the long term must be gathered in a consistent manner, must be analysed in the same way over time and so on. This is to enable the information to be able to be used and compared over time.

These are some of the most important qualities that make information useful for planning and decision-making. However, your organisation is not the only source of information available nor should it be the only source someone uses. Information obtained from lots of sources creates a better picture and is more likely to result in successful decisions and sound plans. Though it can sometimes be confusing and even conflicting, each source has its own unique strengths and limitations. Information is most useful when the people who use it have some basis for evaluation.

Ensure Methods of Collecting Information are Reliable and Make Efficient Use of Available Time and Resources

Assess Information for Clarity, Accuracy, Currency and Relevance to Intended Tasks

Organisations achieve success by realising business goals through strategic resource management. Effective information management is a key enabler in achieving business success, as access to records and other documents containing strategic information is the basis of sound decision-making. The advantages of having information at your fingertips are enormous.

Methods of collecting information may include:

Checking research provided by others
Checking written material including referrals and client files
Use of classification tools
Individual research
Information from other organisations
Interviews with colleagues/customers
Observation and listening
Previous file records
Questioning (in person or indirect)
Recruitment applications and other forms.

It can be particularly helpful when gathering information because a good process map should outline the types of information that are gathered over the timeframe of a given process and what this information is actually used for by the organisation.

This information can be helpful in identifying areas for improvement because it can provide accurate and detailed process information. Observations may, however, be influenced by how you feel about a certain event. You need to make sure you just record the facts. There is a risk that the mapping may not be completed on a regular basis or accurately.

Always think carefully about which method is most appropriate to achieving the information you need to organise and keep and which can be ignored. Keep the following four criteria in mind as you make your selections and apply them again when making your final choices as to suitability of material.

1. Who the users will be
2. What their information needs are
3. What materials are available
4. How information can be disseminated.

It is important to collect only essential information. Too much information can be confusing.

Use Interpersonal Skills to Access Relevant Information from Teams and Individuals

Encouraging Personal Sharing of Information

Finally, let’s take some time looking at how you can get individuals within and outside your organisation to share their views and opinions with you. This can be very difficult to achieve, as you may be asking for personal thoughts in some cases.

The key is having exceptional communication skills and using this to try and achieve a number of tasks:

• Gathering information
• Analysing information
• Storing information
• Giving information.

When you are communicating with others in order to gain relevant information, you will find that a basic process takes place:

1. The sender sends information
2. It travels via a given media to the receiver
3. The receiver receives the information and interprets it.

You need to understand the effect that each of these processes have on the end result. Let’s take a look at some further considerations:

• Information can be verbal, written, or through a range of other mediums – some are even difficult to interpret (such as non-verbal communication), so you need to understand the effect that each of these has on the message that you are actually receiving from those communicating it.

• Memories are important. You will need to ensure that you are able to remember everything that is said to you during these processes.

• Giving information can involve any sense that you may have, so you need to appreciate the messages that you are giving out using the various senses your body is able to interpret.

• In order to interpret information in a clear and effective manner, you need to be sure of what needs to be said, what needs to be gathered and you need to find an effective way to make sure that you provide a manner for the information to be provided as quickly and efficiently as possible.

• Remember that only a small amount of information is gained through listening. You can gain much information also by looking at the client and observing their mannerisms and such.

• Be as clear as possible with your communications. Avoid difficult terms, jargon, acronyms and the like which will only serve to confuse people.

• Be clear about your expectations – state what you hope to find out and what sort of information that you are trying to gather from the exercise

Interpersonal skills may include:

• Consultation Methods, Techniques and Protocols

The combined communication and consultation process can be adopted when it is important or necessary that stakeholders have input which may influence a decision or outcome. Stakeholders may test ideas or options and in some cases, may contribute to a mutually acceptable outcome. It will be important to use a combination of effective communication and consultation techniques to ensure
that a positive result is achieved.

It is important to pair the right consultation technique with the need for information.

Protocols should include:

1. To ensure that participants and stakeholders are aware of the approach to consultation and ongoing consultation activity.
2. To ensure that consultation is open, transparent and accessible.
3. To ensure that the consultation process is well planned, managed and coordinated and achieves value for money.
4. To deliver consultation that is effective and of a consistently high quality.
5. To provide feedback on the findings of consultation and actions taken, following consultation activity.

• Networking

The focus of networking activities is to develop mechanisms that will improve the quality or experience of the users when accessing information and services by developing new theories, models and methods for providing the necessary functionality, as well as maximising the usage of the existing infrastructure.

• Seeking Feedback from Group Members to Confirm Understanding

As with all aspects of feedback and evaluation, it is useful to draw upon a range of different yet complementary sources of data. While formal feedback strategies can be adapted to collect feedback regularly perhaps at performance review, there are a range of strategies suitable for gathering informal feedback. Perhaps the most obvious way is to ask questions directly. If teams are small and interactive and there is mutual trust and respect on the part of the team and manager, then posing questions directly to a team may be feasible. However, there is no scope for anonymity of responses and some may feel uncomfortable voicing less popular opinions in such a public manner. There are various strategies which have been developed to address these issues yet still permit quick and easy collection of feedback from students.

The strategy of asking three open questions can be adapted to different modalities and purposes. There is nothing magical about the number three however this number of questions usually provides a manageable amount of feedback without taxing staff resources unnecessarily. This uses individual written responses to open questions asked at any given particular points such as the end of a project or before a new initiative is introduced. The questions might be written on the board or an overhead transparency or they may be provided as an actual questionnaire. The questions you choose to ask will be determined by what you want to gather feedback on. In some settings, this technique can be equally well adapted to verbal presentation of group responses.

• Summarising and Paraphrasing

To confirm understanding of another, you can paraphrase or summarise. Paraphrasing is repeating in your words what you interpreted someone else to be saying. Paraphrasing is powerful means to further the understanding of the other person and yourself, and can greatly increase the impact of another’s comments. It can translate comments so that even more people can understand them.

A summary is a concise overview of the most important points from a communication, whether it’s from a conversation, presentation or document. Summarising is a very important skill for an effective communicator.

A good summary can verify that people understand each other, can make communications more efficient, and can ensure that the highlights of communications are captured and utilised.

• Using Appropriate Body Language

Body language can be extremely powerful when it comes to networking and building relationships with others. Within the first seven seconds of meeting you, people check you out visually.

Four key factors to keep in mind:

1. Eye Contact

Some of the most powerful and successful business leaders in the world are known for the impressions they make during face-to-face meetings. Their gaze never wavers from the eyes of the person they are speaking with, making them feel as if they are the most important person in the room. With a little practice, anyone can do this.

Are you making good eye contact throughout the conversation? Or are you looking behind the person to see who else is in the room?

2. Movement

If you are speaking to someone and your arms are in a position that gives even a subliminal hint that you’re not interested, you’re not going to give off a positive impression. What are your arms doing? Are they folded, signifying boredom, or tucked behind your back, indicating interest?

3. Your Stance

Make an effort to stand in a manner that is open and welcoming, rather than blocking people out of your conversation. Are you leaning on something, as if bored or tired? Are you unable to shake hands because you’re juggling a plateful of food?

4. Facial Expressions

Maintaining an interested facial expression goes hand in hand with maintaining eye contact. Are you smiling, or holding back a yawn? Are you showing interest? What does your face say?

We are continually giving and receiving feedback. Whether explicit through oral or written language, or implicit in gestures or tone of voice, feedback conveys information about behaviours and offers an evaluation of the quality of those behaviours. While it is not always easy to accept feedback given to you personally, strive to perceive it as a learning opportunity.

Never conduct a feedback interview when you are angry. When you are angry, it is very difficult to plan an interview and stick to the plan. You get emotionally caught up in the issue. It is more effective to wait until you have an opportunity to think through what you wish to say or do, and plan the interview. BUT, don’t wait too long. Many relationship difficulties occur because we hang onto our judgments/hurts/issues until they have affected the level of trust in the relationship and as a result we tend to communicate less.

Key Points

• Organising workplace information requires first finding the best useable information about a multitude of work fields.

• To be useful data collected must be accurate, current, relevant, specific, understandable, comprehensive, unbiased and comparable.

• To gain the information, you must consistently exercise excellent interpersonal communication skills.

• It is important that members of a group communicate freely with each other.

• Information is received through hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, and smelling.

• The more ways we use to gather information, the better the information is received, understood and put to use.

• Retrieving or recalling information is important.

• Giving information involves the same five senses used to receive it.

• Interpreting information is vital.

• Clear communication is essential.

On completion you will have demonstrated your ability to gather, organise and review information about your organisation’s work processes.