Collect information

The preparation of a business classification tool requires the project team, or dedicated resource, to identify and collect a range of information that will be central to establishing an understanding of the agency's functions and activities.

The following steps should be used to achieve this result:

Identify existing records

Analysis of the frequency of use of thesaurus terms in the creation of agency records is a good method of identifying important classes. Examination of business unit work procedures and interviews with staff will identify and confirm classes.

Conducting a records survey would be part of a comprehensive approach to the identification of all records held by the agency. A survey would include records held in records management systems, business systems and databases.

It is important to collect as much information as possible about the records, in all formats, to assist in enumerating completely the information resource of the organisation and in the identification of control methods.

Research source documents

A primary source of information about the organisation and its functions is agency documentation.

Recommended source documents, for identification and analysis, are listed below:

  • Records disposal schedules
  • Administrative Arrangements Orders
  • Annual reports
  • Strategic plans
  • Corporate business plans
  • Work procedures
  • Corporate policies
  • Enabling and controlling legislation
  • NTG Corporate Thesaurus
  • Export of current thesaurus terms from TRIM database
  • Corporate website and/or intranet site
  • Standards and codes of best practice.

An analysis of this corporate and industry sector literature provides information useful in defining the business functions and associated activities.

Examples of the type of information derived from these sources are:

  • Records disposal schedules - functional analysis performed for the development of a disposal schedule is of great benefit in the development of a business classification (or vice versa). Check the record class description forms for more information.
  • Administrative arrangements orders - clearly defines legislation and functional responsibilities of NTG agencies.
  • Enabling and controlling legislation - core business processes and record creation requirements, and record retention and access requirements.
  • Annual reports - some detail of the major functions of the agency and their component activities, past achievements, planned future development and functions, and information regarding statutory or other establishing documentation.
  • Strategic plans - an indication of the planned future direction of the agency and some summary information about the activities about to be undertaken to achieve stated goals.
  • Corporate business plans - objectives that the agency has identified as priorities (these can be used for potential keywords or initial scope notes).
  • Corporate website and/or intranet site - agency structure and division of tasks and responsibilities, functions and activities of the agency.
  • Corporate policy and procedures - these documents are useful in identifying agency activities and transactions.

Research business information systems used in the organisation

It is important to be aware of the entirety of business information systems used in the organisation. Discrete business systems need to be identified and viewed as components of a whole system. These include those that are viewed as separate entities because of the medium in which they are managed, for example:

  • eCommerce and web-based transaction systems
  • electronic document management systems
  • line-of-business systems- including discrete databases managed in a variety of business areas.

Interview selected managers and staff

Interviewing key staff and stakeholders is essential in the development of any business classification. People who understand the organisation's business are able to describe, in a relevant language, the essential components and elements of their operation. Interviews aid in identifying the records produced, the systems and processes used, and assists in the process of identifying and accessing relevant documents. Contacts and relationships established become useful when seeking comment and endorsement of the final product.

It is recommended that staff to be interviewed should have:

  • positions that cover a range of functions and activities to provide a 'big picture' of the organisations' business and accountability requirements (including audit and legal specialists)
  • operational staff and action officers responsible for specific business processes that involve the initial transaction
  • quality assurance managers
  • systems administrators.

Questions to ask

  • What business processes are performed by your area?
  • What information is collected to conduct your business?
  • How do you break these broad areas down?
  • Do you work with other areas?
  • What terms do you use to describe your business?
  • What type of transactions do you process?
  • What documentation do you create?
  • What legislation do you operate under?
  • What are your reporting requirements?

Last updated: 15 March 2019

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