Information needs to be useful: relevance and reliability We will now reconsider the question of…

Information needs to be useful: relevance and reliability We will now reconsider the question of why it is necessary that the information released by an organisation be both relevant and reliable. Also, we will look again at the additional characteristics that information should possess for it to be relevant and reliable, and therefore useful for making decisions. As a result of reading the material provided so far in this chapter, you should now understand that to be useful, information needs to be relevant; that is, it needs to be capable of changing the decisions being made by the people receiving the information. It also needs to be reliable, meaning that the information presented is complete, free from errors, and balanced (neutral). Inappropriate and potentially costly decisions can be made if information is relevant but not reliable. And if information is never likely to be relevant, then it really does not matter how reliable it is since it is likely to be disregarded and not used for decision-making purposes. Therefore, it is essential that the information released by an organisation is both relevant and reliable, and this is why these are often referred to as the two fundamental characteristics of useful information. To enhance the relevance of the information, it should also have the attributes of:

• comparability

• understandability

• timeliness.

To enhance the reliability of the information, it should also be verifiable, which means that it is relatively free of error and bias.

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