Keeping the record straight in a volatile economic environment

"It's because of the credit crunch!" is a phrase that I hear almost every day now. It seems to be the reason to any introduction of business change or deviation from previously laid out plans and strategies. I hear it when talking to people in Government as well as private industry.


Certainly, economically challenging times require organizations to re-assess, re-plan, re-align and consolidate in a drive for more efficiency and to get themselves into a situation where they can weather the storm. All of this causes a lot of re-organization. Even well positioned organizations can expect change, as the volatility of the economy will lead to a new divide between strong and weak and to new mergers and acquisitions.


Organizational changes are a serious challenge to records managers, whose job is to document the business context in which information was created and used, for many decades to come. This is why many records managers build business classifications according to their organization's activities rather than departmental structures. In a time of consolidation and re-organization it is likely that the business activities change to a lesser degree than the organizational structures.


The problem is that many records managers device their own classifications, which are all highly unique in structure and terminology used. This means that when it comes to a merger of two organizations there are always difficulties to merge their business records because of classification mis-matches.


When I look at business classifications from a birds-eye view, every organization has three main elements: money, people, and a mission. I can see that there is a lot of similarities between organizations in the first two; the real difference lies in the mission. Does this mean that it is possible to create standardized business classifications for all the non-mission specific information? I don't see why not! State Records of New South Wales in Australia released Keyword AAA in 1995. This thesaurus of general administrative terms has been adapted into a business classification by many government organizations, not just in New South Wales, and this supports increased interoperability between different organization's record holdings.


I think coming up with a universal records classification for business records would be a fantastic achievement. For records managers it would mean that they could concentrate on the non-overlapping sections when merging business classifications. For technologists it would mean that they could work toward auto-classification of records into a non-moving target. For future researchers it would mean a more consistent information environment. I am sure that there are many more benefits. If not, we should just do it "because of the credit crunch!".

Comments
(anon) | ‎12-05-2008 06:01 AM

There seems to be a high amount of overlap between the classification schemas businesses in similar verticals can use.  Even very similar companies though tend to have business requirements that seem to require variations in taxonomy.  

(anon) | ‎12-28-2009 03:35 PM

that's very nice,I'm very agree.I like it

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