To analyse business processes, or not to analyse business processes – that is the question (or at least one of the questions to consider when implementing an EDRMS) May 22, 2013

Last week the members of the EDRMS Implementers Discussion Group met to talk about establishing business rules as part of an EDRMS implementation. Members shared the different approaches taken by their organisations to determine when records will be captured to the EDRMS (e.g. when initially drafted? when approved or finalised?), how they will be captured (e.g. manually by creators? as part of a workflow?) and by whom (e.g. creators? reviewers? approvers?)

The discussion raised a very interesting issue: successful EDRMS implementations are linked to having a good understanding of an organisation’s business needs for information. Detailed business process analysis can determine where records are created or received in a specific business process and when, how and by whom these records should be captured. However in the ‘real world’, especially for large organisations subject to frequent change and re-organisation, this type of analysis isn’t always possible. These organisations may only be able to develop generic business rules for when records should be captured and leave it up to individual business units to interpret and adjust these with regard to their own business processes.

Basing business rules on detailed business process analysis

State Records’ FAQs about EDRMS note that well articulated requirements are key to the successful implementation of an EDRMS:

… you will need to articulate your organisation’s own business needs and technical requirements and constraints. This involves an analysis of your organisation’s specific business. Stakeholders and users should be involved in this analysis, particularly if it involves changes to their current business processes. This understanding will help you in configuring the system to meet your needs.

Undertaking detailed business process analysis can assist in achieving improved business efficiency and productivity: business processes can be streamlined and automated; version control and revision management can be implemented; the speed of responding to customers can be improved with better access to information; and duplication can be reduced by only capturing information once.

One of the members of the Group explained that his organisation is undertaking this type of detailed business analysis as part of its EDRMS implementation. The organisation is running a pilot project focussed on a particular business unit, and the project team is mapping the unit’s business processes and workflows and identifying where records need to be captured and where the EDRMS can be used to simplify processes. As an example, this work has identified that records documenting complaints are currently maintained in five different databases – the project team is looking to streamline the complaints handling and management process, and to reduce the number of locations in which employees must look for information related to complaints.

This member advised that the hardest part of this project so far has involved getting consensus on business processes and workflows.

Establishing generic business rules that can be adapted to suit specific business units

For large organisations responsible for a range of functions and activities, and for organisations subject to frequent administrative change and re-organisation, this type of detailed, business unit-by-business unit process analysis is not always possible. Instead, these organisations may develop a series of generic business rules that can be adapted by specific business units to suit their own particular operating environment.

A number of the members explained the approaches taken by their organisations to determining when, how and by whom documents will be captured to an EDRMS. Interestingly there was significant agreement between the approaches, with only one key difference:

  • Some organisations provide a shared space outside of the EDRMS (e.g. shared network drives, SharePoint sites etc.) for employees to ‘unofficially’ collaborate on documents. Working drafts and research are saved in these locations. When a document is formally circulated for consultation/comment, or submitted for approval, it is captured to the EDRMS.
  • Other organisations expect that all work-related documents will be created in the EDRMS or captured to the EDRMS on creation. Working drafts and research, as well as drafts circulated for consultation/comment or submitted for approval, are all captured to the EDRMS.

Versions and revisions

The members also shared their approaches to managing versions and revisions, and it was in this area that key differences emerged:

  • One organisation is yet to turn on the functionality to allow users to manage versions and revisions in the EDRMS. Currently, users are advised to capture email messages with attachments to the EDRMS. The email message provides the business context for understanding the status and development of the attached document.
  • Other organisations use versions or revisions, or both, in their EDRMS. Some organisations use the notes fields to document contextual information about the status of versions/revisions.

Gaining support for business process analysis and change management

State Records’ FAQs about EDRMS include a quote from a CIO which highlights the importance of business process analysis and change management to a successful EDRMS implementation:

I’ve been involved in planning a couple of successful EDRMS projects and the cost breakup ended up being 30% technical implementation, 40% process change/re-engineering and 30% cultural change management (this includes training and general communications).

I’ve also had peripheral involvement in another (more recent) EDRMS implementation where the breakup was 90% technical implementation, 5% process change/re-engineering and 5% change management and it all it went horribly, horribly wrong. The system was implanted but never got it into broad operational use.

One of the members of the EDRMS Implementers Discussion Group explained that a previous project to implement an EDRMS in his organisation had identified and analysed the various business processes performed across the organisation. When the funding for this project was removed, the organisation was unable to use this analysis to integrate an EDRMS into business processes. Although the organisation subsequently tried to maintain the analysis, this was difficult due to resourcing constraints and frequent administrative change and restructure. As a result, the analysis became out of date and no longer provides an accurate representation of the organisation’s business processes.

This organisation is currently bidding for funding for an EDRMS implementation. However, resources for detailed process analysis and change management do not form part of the business case. The members agreed that change management is key to a successful EDRMS implementation, but acknowledged that it is often difficult to secure funding and organisational support for this. The Group plans to discuss the key ingredients to a successful business case for an EDRMS implementation at a future meeting.

The EDRMS Implementers Discussion Group meets every six weeks, and membership of this group is open to anyone in the NSW public sector who is keen to share their organisation’s experiences of transitioning to digital recordkeeping. If you would like to join this group, please contact us at

Please also let us know about your own organisation’s approach to determining when, how and by whom records will be captured to an EDRMS by leaving a comment below.

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