Managing information

Introduction Summary 1. Problems 2. Solutions 3. Identification(1) 3. Identification(2) 4. Practice(1) 4. Practice(2) 5. Example 6. Action 7. More examples Download book Exit


5. Example - London to Amsterdam

5.1. Objectives

  1. Our objective is to travel from London to Amsterdam for a meeting in one month’s time, starting at 11:00am and finishing around 4:00pm.
  2. We need to keep expenditure to a minimum.

5.2. Risks

  1. The risks include:

We arrive late.

We get to the meeting very tired.

Costs of the complete trip are over our expected budget of £300.

The meeting may be cancelled, and we therefore lose money paid for non-refundable fares.

  1. There will be other risks, possibly arising from our choice of transport. For example, an accident is more likely if we go by car. There’s no point in taking account of these risks if car travel is not the preferred choice.

5.3. Decisions

  1. What decisions do we need to make in order to reduce our risks to a level we’re prepared to accept?
  2. The first decision is the mode of travel (plane, train or car), since this will affect the first three risks above.
  3. Depending on the amounts of money at stake, we may decide to accept the final risk.
  4. Depending on the time of travel, we may need to decide on accommodation.

5.4. Information

5.4.1 Relevant

  1. I’m not going to go through all the information but will just provide examples.
  2. We know that the meeting is in our organisation’s office, ten minutes tram ride from the main station.
  3. The first information we have to gather is availability of transport. This will provide times and costs. At the time of writing, booking four weeks ahead, the first train leaves at 8:04 taking around 5 hours, with a change at Brussels so there’s no chance of travelling on the same day as the meeting. The last train leaves at 17:19 arriving back at 21:03 (Amsterdam time is one hour ahead of the UK), which is early enough for us to get home. However, we don’t know if the meeting is likely to finish late. Total cost is around £230, excluding the cost of an hotel room.
  4. By plane, a British Airways flight leaves London Heathrow at 7:25 and arrives at Amsterdam at 9:40. That will just give us time to get to the meeting. Cost is around £125 return.
  5. We live near Heathrow, so shouldn’t have to get up too early!
  6. We know that we’ll have to take three days by car, which is more expensive than the plane, when Eurotunnel and hotel costs are included.

5.4.2 Timeliness

  1. Timeliness is important; to make sure the seats aren’t sold, we need to book as soon as possible.
  2. This has to be balanced against the risk that the meeting is cancelled.

5.4.3 Accuracy

  1. We could try to be accurate about costs and times.
  2. There’s no point about being too accurate on costs. We can work to the nearest £20 and still know whether we are within our budget.
  3. There’s not much point about being very accurate about times. We have to arrive at the airport at least 30 minutes before the flight departs and can only estimate the time from the aircraft landing to our arrival at the office to about an hour, plus or minus 15 minutes. It will be tight but we can manage that risk by asking for a slight delay if we are late. (We know from experience that these meetings rarely start on time).

5.5. Conclusions

  1. We travel by plane on the same day as the meeting as it’s the cheapest option, taking the least time.
  2. There are risks that we will arrive tired and maybe late but they are acceptable. If they were not, we would travel the day before. We would need to check that the plane was still the best option.
  3. If the meeting is cancelled, we lose the money paid for the tickets. This risk is acceptable compared with the risk that we might not be able to book such cheap fares nearer the date of the meeting.
  4. We have not taken into account the wider environmental risks of travelling by plane instead of train.

So what action can we take in our daily lives?