Informal systems are created in an ad hoc manner by informal workgroups. They are formed to support the informational needs of a company or organization that cannot be met through formal systems. Informal systems can grow quite large in an organization and many thrive. They generally do not follow pre-established rules for collecting, storing, processing, or disseminating data. Informal systems can take a variety of shapes. For example, a group of students who meet up to study form an informal system since they collaborate to produce a greater set of knowledge.
These systems are important to an organization for a number of reasons. One of the most important ones is that they fill in the gaps that are left after using more formal methods of information management. They also allow for more flexibility and lack some of the constraints imposed by formal systems.
For example, a company may use a formal information management system to share information about an upcoming project. After, a group of employees may choose to meet together to explore the details of the project further, resulting in greater knowledge for the group as a whole. Ideally, a company would use both formal and informal methods of information management. When each is used with a purpose, the organization can make significant progress towards its overall goals.