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RMJ 21,2



Functional classication of records and organisational structure

Pekka Henttonen and Kimmo Kettunen
Department of Information Studies and Interactive Media, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
Purpose This paper seeks to examine how an electronic records management system has been used in a Finnish government agency. In particular, it aims to study the relationship between functional classication scheme and the way users in different organisational units and at different organisational levels have employed the system. The goal is to examine whether electronic records management systems were easier to use if the system knew what functional classes the user (or other employees in the users organisational unit) typically need in their work. Design/methodology/approach The study is based on two sources. The rst source is metadata in records that were captured in the electronic records management system of the agency. It reects actual behaviour of users when they interact with the system and classication of records. The second source is distribution of functions to organisational units in the light of policy documents and a survey made in the organisation. The study compares the two sources to see how the users have employed the electronic records management system in their work and how this relates to organisational structure and supposed usage of the system. Findings In general, individual employees employ only a small part of the classication. However, this does not apply at a higher level in the organisational hierarchy: the higher the persons position in the hierarchy, the more classes he/she is likely to use in the work. Regardless of the position, the classes are generally those identied as belonging to the employees unit. Research limitations/implications The study is based on one agency with a functional organisational structure. The ndings may not apply to organisations where job descriptions are uid. They should also be tested in more complex organisational settings. One could develop new methods of automated classication which combine analysis of document content with contextual reasoning about the likely functional classes. Practical implications Access to electronic records management systems could be facilitated by creating in systems user/unit proles dening what functional classes the user is most likely to need in their work. It would also be useful if systems simply remembered what functional classes the user has needed in the past. Originality/value The study offers insight into how an electronic records management system is used in an organisation. This is valuable for companies developing records management software and persons trying to gain a deeper understanding of records management in organisations. Keywords Records management, Electronic records management, Metadata, Information media, Classication schemes, Finland Paper type Research paper

Records Management Journal Vol. 21 No. 2, 2011 pp. 86-103 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0956-5698 DOI 10.1108/09565691111152035

Introduction One of the challenges in records management is coming to terms with the unprecedented volumes of electronic data, records and information, in an era when

privacy, retention and security requirements have become stringent. Traditionally, records management processes have been undertaken by records management staff, but manual application of access and security rules and retention policies do not keep pace with the volumes. Transferring the work to end-users is not proving successful either. Employees primary responsibilities may leave them little time to do these administrative tasks. Therefore, even persons with a proper training may fail to accurately determine how long a le should be retained, to what classication it belongs, or how long it must be preserved for litigation (Christensen, 2008; Santangelo, 2009). Asking employees to spend a large amount of time manually classifying data greatly affects productivity (Santangelo, 2009). Thus, the problem is how to automate records management processes, like assigning metadata. End-users are highly resistant to capturing metadata that does not relate directly to their own business processes (Christensen, 2008). The Finnish approach Metadata has to be added to records with minimal user intervention. This is achieved in Finland by a records management tool known as AMS (an abbreviation from the Finnish word arkistonmuodostussuunnitelma). An AMS is a combination of functional classication scheme, retention schedule and le plan. An AMS identies records that are created or received by the organisation and instructs their handling. An AMS works as a guidebook for the organisation. In an electronic environment it is the source of record metadata values. A functional classication scheme is the core of an AMS. Classication is dened in ISO 15489-1 as systematic identication and arrangement of business activities and/or records into categories according to logically structured conventions, methods, and procedural rules represented in a classication system (International Organization for Standardization, 2001). A functional classication scheme is based on what an organisation does, its functions and activities (Orr, 2005). It describes functions of the record-creating organisation. Class by class an AMS lists record types that are created in functions. Decision, memorandum, and letter received are examples of record types. For each record type AMS denes default metadata values controlling access and retention times. When a record is captured in an electronic records management system the records functional class and type are used to retrieve from the system AMS default metadata values, which are then assigned to the record. For instance, an AMS may state that: . there is a function called human resources management with a sub-function of lling vacancies; . job application is a of record type created in the sub-function; . a job application should be retained for two years; and . be considered as condential. When a record is added to an ERMS default metadata values come from the system AMS. In some cases the user can change the default value by selecting another value

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from a pick list. For instance, the system cannot always determine valid access restrictions: therefore, the user has to change the default value when necessary. Default metadata values are based on the combination of sub-function and record type. Still, instead of a sub-function, the user typically selects a case in which the record belongs. A case is an administrative process with a denite beginning and an end. A number of cases are usually created in a sub-function during a year, one for each started process. For instance, a case could be created from fullling a vacancy in the organisation. The case is created in the system when the process is initiated and the vacancy is declared open. When the vacancy is lled, the case is closed. Every case belongs to a class in the classication scheme. Thus, the case provides a link between the record and the functional classication. The case also links a record to other records created in the same process. The decision to create a new case is usually done in a registry ofce. Hence, a user has to operate both within the functional classication scheme and the case structure in the electronic records management system (ERMS). Nevertheless, everything is based on making the right selection: if functional class and record type are not correct, there is a danger that the record gets wrong metadata values. In a large organisation the AMS classication scheme may contain hundreds of classes. Users may nd the classication scheme and electronic records management system hard to understand and cumbersome to use. Therefore, there is a need to nd ways to make the selection process easier or even entirely automatic. In this study we examine possibilities for automatic record classication in the light of the relationship between functions, organisational structure and records created in the organisation: if we know what are organisational functions, how responsibility for the functions is divided between different units, and in which unit an employee works, is it possible to say what functional classes are used in the work? The goal is also to nd out how functional classication is used in organisations. This may tell whether user or unit proles describing tasks and, indirectly, functional classes that are likely to be needed by users could make interacting with an ERMS easier. Literature review Classication is an essential tool in records management. It is used to provide links between records that originate from the same activity or from related activities; to determine where a record should be placed in a larger aggregation of records; to assist users in retrieving and interpreting records; and to assign and control retention periods, access rights and security markings (Schellenberg, 1975; Smith, 2007) Because of this, classication is often discussed in records management and archival text books and guides (Smith, 2007; Williams, 2006; Shephard and Yeo, 2003; Todd, 2003; National Archives of Australia, 2003a, b, Tough, 2006, Findlay, 2008) and in professional literature (del Olmo, 2006; Morelli, 2007; Milne, 2007; Bedford and Morelli, 2006; Robinson, 1997; McKenna, 2009; Sabourin, 2001). The role of classication in information retrieval has been studied by Singh et al. (2007). Seitsonen (2009) examines the relationship between organisational structure and functional classication in her masters thesis. Campbell (1941) had already advocated functional classication. Campbell believed that functional classication would be more understandable and easier for a researcher to use and for an arranger to create than a classication based on administrative units.

Nevertheless, before the 1990s, records were commonly classied in creating organisations by subject and in archival institutions by organisational provenance. Today, classication schemes are usually functional and based on what an organisation does. Since the 1990s functional classication has been strongly promoted. Recent records management textbooks in the UK and Australia promote functional classication as the only or main means of classifying records (Orr, 2005). A classication scheme lies at the heart of any electronic records management system since it denes the way in which electronic records are grouped together (aggregated) and linked to the business context in which they were created or transmitted. Specications for electronic records management systems (Archives New Zealand, 2005; Arkistolaitos, 2008; International Council on Archives and Australasian Digital Records Initiative, 2008; DLM-Forum, 2008) and international records management standard (International Organization for Standardization, 2001) advocate functional classication as the best practice for records management. Records management metadata standard ISO 23081 notes that metadata can be inherited from a higher records aggregate to a lower one. For example, metadata about a folder can be inherited by all the items placed within the folder (International Organization for Standardization, 2006). Classication scheme is one possible source for inherited metadata. Terminology is wavering: functional classication, functions-based classication, and business classication are used as synonyms (Orr, 2005). Sabourin (2001) notes that the term functional ling is used even though a record series in the model may not display actual functions performed. There seems to be no full agreement on how function, sub-function, activity, transaction, task and process relate to each other and to levels of classication. Shephard and Yeo (2003) have made perhaps the most rigorous analysis of their relationship. The terminological ambiguity is not limited to records and archives management: in business re-engineering literature there is no consensus about the denition of business process or a formal denition of process that is sufcient for use by process engineers and system builders (Maddison and Darnton, 1996). There are different ways to create a functional classication: both a top-down approach and an approach based on process analysis is possible (Orr, 2005; Tough, 2006). Functional classication schemes are usually hierarchical and enumerative. Functions thesauri can be created from a hierarchical classication. An example of functions thesauri is Australian Keyword AAA, which has been also used in the UK Parliament (Gibbons and Shenton, 2003; Robinson, 1997, 1999; NSW Department of Commerce. State Records, 2008). Xie (2007) compares and contrasts two types of functional classication, one described in Australian DIRKS manual (Designing and Implementing Record-Keeping Systems: Manual for Commonwealth Agencies) and the other dened in Canadian BASCS methodology (Business Activity Structure Classication System). In Northern Ireland a common le plan based on functional classication has been developed for the Civil Service, rst to common functions and later to other areas (Smyth, 2005). The functional approach has multiple benets. For instance, a retention schedule based on functions and related activities supports the organisations mission, facilitates access, and helps to identify vital and archival records (Farneth and Nye, 2005). Man (2005) has written about functional approach from the perspective of

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archival appraisal. She claims that functional appraisal and surveying techniques are particularly effective for establishing the business context of records and identifying legal and organisational requirements governing their retention. Automatic classication has been a challenging research issue for decades. A major motivation has been the high cost of manual classication. By now there are several possible approaches (Golub, 2006). However, it is not sure how well subject-based methods of automatic classication can be applied in records classication: terms used in a record may not bear direct relationship to the function in which the record is created or received. Also, the relationship between record, access rights and retention times is not purely subject-based. In Finnish system access rights and retention times are dened record by record, hence, they should also be assigned automatically. A combination of manual and automated classication might provide good results (Santangelo, 2009). Problem statement We need more information about how electronic records management systems are used in organisations to understand the role of ERMS and the processes behind record creation. In this article we study one government agency to search for answers to the following questions: (1) How many functional classes are used by organisational units and persons working in the organisation? Does the usage concentrate on some classes or is it distributed more equally? (2) How does the persons position in the organisational hierarchy affect the use? (3) Are the classes used by individuals those that one could expect on the basis of analysis of relationship between organisational functions and units? Methodology The study is part of a two year of Semantic Web 2.0 (FinnONTO2) project lead by the Helsinki University of Technology. The general goal of the FinnONTO2 was to combine benets and synergy of Web 2.0 and semantic web technologies and demonstrate the results in various semantic web portals and applications (see www. seco.tkk./). Whereas the research group at the Helsinki University of Technology examined ways to apply traditional semantic web technologies to electronic records (see Nyberg et al., 2010), our research group tried to nd other ways to create more intelligent and easy-to-use electronic management systems. The data used in the study is a compilation of two sources. The rst source is metadata and records of a Finnish government agency. The second source is information about the functions and organisational structure of the agency. Records management metadata The rst source for the study was records and metadata in an ERMS of a Finnish government agency. Records management metadata describes not only record creation, but also processes in which records participate. The metadata used in the study complies with the SAHKE metadata model. SAHKE is a Finnish specication dening requirements for ERMS functionality and metadata (Arkistolaitos, 2005a, b, c).

Metadata in SAHKE gives information about records and also describes cases and actions to which records are linked. An example of an action is sending a record for approval to another employee. Altogether the data used in the study gives a good overall picture of the ERMS usage in the organisation. Nevertheless, the picture is not complete because reading records without modifying them was not recorded in metadata. The same metadata has been used in Kettunen and Henttonen (2010). The agency delivering the records had an interest in developing electronic records management and making ERMS more user-friendly. Thus, it was willing to give records and their metadata to our research project. Unfortunately, the agency does not want its name to be revealed. There was little possibility for selecting the agency whose records are used in the study. In our experience, agencies are usually reluctant to give their records to research. Legal responsibility remains at the agency even when the records are outside its control. It is not certain that condential or classied information can be entirely screened out from the records. Another reason for reluctance to deliver records for research is technical obstacles. At the moment, many Finnish electronic records management systems do not have tools for exporting records with their metadata. Except for records in two functional classes which were excluded because they contained sensitive or classied information the set included all the records received or created by the agency and captured in its ERMS in cases opened during the time period of 30.9.2005-31.12.2007. Altogether, the original set included 7,252 records of permanent or non-permanent value in 67 functional classes. Besides records, the metadata described 3,469 cases and 14,532 actions. The agency is small and has about 130 employees. It ranks relatively high in the government hierarchy. Because the agency does not want its identity to be known, its functions cannot be described here in detail. They are typical for a government organisation. There are facilitative functions, which include general administration, personnel management, nancial administration, and real estate management. In substantive functions the agency interacts with other agencies and citizens, makes decisions and gives guidance in matters within its mandate. The records metadata contained information about agents and roles in which they were involved in a process (for instance, about initiator who starts the process by sending a letter to the agency), actions which have taken place in cases (like sending a letter forward for an internal comment) and other events related to records (for instance, modifying, signing or saving a document). Altogether, over 40 different roles, actions or events were identied in the metadata. From here on they are collectively referred to here as events. Metadata describing an event contain three parts: (1) date; (2) information identifying the agent and the unit involved; and (3) a string describing what happened or what was the agents role in the event. For instance, information identifying an agent combined with date and event description string reveals when, and by whom the document was signed. Some events were ltered out. For the most part, ltered events are about actions that have taken place in the registry ofce of the agency. The registry ofce handles incoming and outgoing letters of all units regardless of their functional context.

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Therefore, we excluded from the data all events involving a person who was known to have sometimes worked in the registry ofce. Also events in which the agent was not identied as an agency employee or the date was outside the time range examined were excluded. Finally, a small number of events were left out because the person was listed in two units simultaneously and the unit in which the person was working when the event took place could not be established with certainty. However, employees who at different times worked in more than one unit and/or position, were included in the data. The nal dataset used in the study contained metadata of 43,113 events, which is about 38 per cent of the original set. The metadata used in the study was about 5,259 records, 11,520 actions and 2,801 cases. If not otherwise stated, ndings in this study are based on the ltered dataset. Information describing organisational context The second source was information describing the organisational context in which records were created. For this purpose, we collected information about the agency personnel, functions, organisational structure and division of functions to different organisational units during the time period examined. The information was gathered from various literary sources; policy documents, organisation charts, and personnel lists. In the analysis, classes in the functional classication were mapped to the unit structure. Some functions proved to be common to several units, and a few to all units in the organisation. Only one functional class could not be linked to any particular unit. This class was for records generated in a minor function, which did not belong to the organisations main tasks and was not reected in its structure. The organisational structure was changed in the middle of the time period examined; thus, the analysis was done for both organisational structures. In reshufe the organisations functions and functional classication scheme remained the same, but some persons and responsibilities were transferred between units and one unit was merged with other units. At the last stage unit managers were asked to check whether the list of current and past unit functions was complete and accurate. In the case of the merged unit, the information was checked by its last manager, who was still working in the agency. All the time there were four levels in the organisational structure: director general, director, unit manager and employee. Because there seemed to be a clear difference between how managers and ordinary employees had used the ERMS, executive staff and managers were for the most part analysed separately. Although some persons worked in more than one position during the time period examined, everyone stayed at the same organisational level (no employee was promoted or demoted). The relationship between functions and units was roughly the same in both organisational structures. Functional classication remained the same despite the changes in the organisation. One of the eight main classes was reserved for general administration and three for other supportive functions. A unit was responsible for all four, but also other units took part in the general administration. Four main classes were dedicated to main business functions. In every main class most sub-classes were mapped to one unit, but units (except for the supportive unit) had responsibilities across main class boundaries.

Combining events and information about organisational context The nal step was to merge information about events in metadata (the rst dataset) with information about persons and functions (the second dataset). Information in the resulting new dataset was as follows: . name of the agent; . description of the event or the role of the person in the event; . date of the event; . entity involved in the event (a record, a case, or an action taken in a case); . name of the organisational unit (or position in the organisational hierarchy if the person was a director above unit level); . identier of the functional class; . level of the functional class in the three-level classication hierarchy; and . whether the functional class was one of those identied as belonging to the unit/manager (yes/no). This dataset was used in the statistical analysis. In addition, a simple random sample of 500 records was examined to understand some details of record creation and ERMS usage. Findings General remarks about the ERMS usage The delivering agency had made a decision to use its ERMS broadly in its functions. Nevertheless, about one-third of the classication was unused. The functional classication scheme had eight main classes and 97 second or third-level classes that could be used for classifying cases and, thus, indirectly records. A total of 67 classes (69 per cent) of them had been actually used to classify cases and records in the original unltered dataset. The analysis of the organisational context showed that about 77-80 per cent of the functional classes were at the responsibility of one unit only. The responsibility for the rest of the classes was divided to more than one unit at the same time. The ERMS was employed unevenly in functions (see Figure 1). About 13 per cent of events, were generated in supportive functions (rst four main classes). About 72 per cent of all events were related to 7th main class in which answers to inquiries and other correspondence in one of the organisations main functions was classied. Other main business functions (three main classes in the classication) covered the rest, with a share of about 15 per cent of events. Filtering process did not change this: distribution of events is practically identical in the original and ltered dataset. The proportion of ltered events is roughly the same in all functional classes. The e-mail system was not integrated with the ERMS. Users had to manually import e-mail messages by creating a new text document, copying e-mail content to it via clipboard and nally capturing the document to the ERMS. A random sample of 500 records showed that e-mail messages comprise about 21.4 per cent of records in the system (^ 3.1 per cent with 95 per cent condence interval). The manual process is fairly laborious. It cannot be said how much e-mail was not captured because of this.

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Figure 1. Distribution of events in main classes in the original and ltered datasets

However, it is easy to assume that the number of e-mail messages in the system would be signicantly higher if the capture process had been automatic. In the light of the ERMS, the organisation is effectively a black box. Only incoming and outgoing messages were captured in the system. The above-mentioned random sample of 500 records was used to examine whether internal interaction was documented in the ERMS. In less than two percent of records (1.4 per cent ^ 1 per cent) both the record sender and the receiver were inside the organisation. Even then the message content was typically a redirected e-mail message, which had been originated outside the organisation. Usage of functional classication in the organisation Functional classication and units. Metadata showed that organisational units employed the ERMS very unevenly in their work. During the time period examined there were altogether 13 units in two organisational structures. All the units had events registered in the metadata, but one unit had so few that obviously the system had been employed only once or twice in its operations. Naturally, this tells only about ERMS usage. Actions that are done outside the ERMS for instance, printing out a document in the registry ofce and sending it on paper to be processed in the unit cannot be seen in metadata. In both organisational structures one unit was responsible for the main function generating most events. The share of this unit was about 65-70 per cent of events. Also, supportive functions were concentrated to one unit and its share was 8-14 per cent of events. Units generally participated in a wide range of processes. There was no one-to-one relationship between a unit and a main class. On average each organisational unit had events in more than half of the eight main classes. Usually, one of the main classes was more heavily used than the others (see Table I). On average, 73 per cent of the events of a unit were in its most used main class, even though the percentage could be as low as 36 per cent. The three most used main classes covered about 95 per cent of the events of a unit. On average, each unit used about 12 per cent of the classication. A total of 97 sub-classes in the functional classication could be used to classify cases (and records).

A unit in charge of supportive functions had the broadest range: it had participated in processes in 27 functional classes (about 28 per cent of the classication). Units in charge of supportive functions like general administration, nance, and personnel had twice as many functional classes identied as belonging to them than units on average. It may be a sign that the functional classication was more developed in these areas than the others. Functional classication and individual employees. Less than half (68) of the 148 persons employed by the agency during the time period had used the ERMS at least once. On average, an employee had more than 600 events registered in the ERMS, but the distribution is strongly right-skewed: the median was only 69 events. About 48 per cent of all events were related to three employees using the system most actively. Of the 68 persons, 11 belong to one of the three managerial levels. Others (57) were part of the executive staff. More than half of the 57 persons in the executive staff had events only in one main class. Thus, using more than one functional main class was untypical for low-level employees, but it was nonetheless common (see Figure 2). Figure 2 also suggests that managers typically used the ERMS more broadly than executive staff. On average, ordinary employees used two main classes and managers more than four. The difference is statistically signicant ( p , 0.001, two-tailed, Mann-Whitney test). The director general was the only person having events in all eight main classes. This is conrmed when we look at the distribution of events to the whole classication (and not to the main classes only): persons higher in the organisational hierarchy used the ERMS more widely than persons working at a lower level. Figure 3 shows a box plot describing the distribution of events to classes at different organisational levels. The difference in usage between persons working at different levels is obvious. The bottom and the top of the box are the 25th and 75th percentile (the lower and upper quartiles, respectively) and the band near the middle of the box is the 50th percentile (the median). The whiskers (the lines that extend out the top and bottom of the box) represent the highest and lowest values that are not outliers or extreme values. Outliers (values that are between 1.5 and 3 times the interquartile range) are represented by circles beyond the whiskers. For instance, the box plot shows that the median of classes used by the executive staff (57 persons) is only three. A total of 75 per cent had events in no more than six classes. Two workers had events in 14 and 15 classes, but they are so far from the main group that they should be considered outliers. Possibly, they had worked in the registry ofce for a short time and their
Count of most used main classes 1 2 3 4 5 6 Note: n 13 Coverage, cumulative mean (%) 72,8 87,5 94,5 98,3 99,4 99,8 Coverage, min (%) 36,0 58,0 80,0 91,0 98,0 99,0

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Table I. Distribution of events of a unit to its most used main classes in the functional classication

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Figure 2. Number of main classes used by executive staff and managers (unit managers, directors and director-general)

Figure 3. Position in organisational hierarchy and number of classes used

events actually should have been ltered out from the data set. However, we cannot be sure about this. On average, employees in the executive staff had events in four and managers (unit managers and directors) in 13 classes (the median being three and six classes, respectively). This is 4-13 per cent of the classication. The director general (not shown in Figure 3) used more functional classes (36) than anyone else in the organisation. This again shows how position in the organisational hierarchy changes the ERMS usage. Like units, employees used some functional classes more than the others. This is especially true for the executive staff. Figure 4 shows how the events were distributed to the 67 sub-classes that were used to classify cases and records. The y-axis shows the cumulative percentage and the x-axis how many classes are taken into consideration. The classes are in descending order. The gure shows that in the case of the executive staff (solid areas) the class containing most events had 30 per cent of events at minimum and 74 per cent on average. For the executive staff the three most used classes covered 66 per cent of the events at minimum and 95 per cent on average. Managers used ERMS more extensively. In their case (lines in Figure 4), the most used class had only 20 per cent of events at minimum and 54 per cent on average. Predictability of usage. Next we compared the event metadata with how the ERMS should have been used in the organisation in the light of what we knew about distribution of work between the organisational units. How predictable was the behaviour of persons? Were events generated in those classes for which the unit was responsible? Table II shows the answer. About nine times out of ten the function was identied to be one of those under the responsibility of the unit. This was true both for executive staff and unit managers. Unit managers participated slightly more to processes that were not identied as belonging to the unit. We assumed that directors above the unit level were responsible for all functions in sub-ordinate units. Therefore, a director controlling multiple units

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Figure 4. Distribution of events to most used classes

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had 34-72 functional classes in his area. No director operated outside this domain according to the metadata. Figures 5 and 6 show by unit how well mappings between organisational units and functional classes matched the events in the metadata. The number following the unit name shows the absolute number of events. Generally, it seems possible to predict

No n Executive staff Table II. Relationship between unit functions and generated events Unit manager Director 2,782 357 0 Event is related to functions of the unit Yes % n % n 8 10 0 33,302 3,231 1,727 92 90 100 36,084 3,588 1,727 Total % 100 100 100

Figure 5. Distribution of events to unit and non-unit functions in the rst organisational structure

Figure 6. Distribution of events to unit and non-unit functions in the second organisational structure

quite well how functional classication is used in units. Only about 8 per cent of events are misplaced. Description of unit functions in the second organisational structure (Figure 6) seems more accurate. There are several ways to explain the mismatch between events in the metadata and supposed usage of the ERMS in the units. One explanation might be that the mapping process failed: we did not correctly identify all the functions belonging to a unit. Mapping for the second organisation may have been more successful, because details of the older organisation perhaps were partly forgotten. An alternative explanation is misclassication. All the events of some units were in a wrong class. In these cases the unit generally did not have many events registered in the system. Obviously the system was not used in the units daily activities. Misclassication may be due to user inexperience or difculties in mapping the units functions to functional classication. A third explanation is that there is no error: events in a wrong class reect (perhaps unofcial) cross-unit process participation, which was not recorded in policy documents or recognised by unit managers. Discussion The ndings of our case study suggest that only a part of the functional classication is used by organisational units in its daily activities. It also seems possible to determine in advance what classes will be used by a unit. At the same time the ndings conrm Seitsonens (2009) conclusion that there is no one-to-one relationship between organisational units and functional main classes: both supportive units and units in charge of business processes employ a large number of main classes and sub-classes in the classication. Hence, from the unit alone one cannot deduce what classes in the classication the employee is likely to need in his work. Knowing the unit does not even reduce signicantly the range of possibilities. Automation based on units alone is not likely to work very well: also the person interacting with the system has to be taken into account. In general, individual employees employ only a small part of the classication. However, this does not apply when we go higher up in the organisations hierarchy: the higher the persons position in the hierarchy, the more classes the person is likely to use in the work. This is natural, because managers have to deal with all issues of their subordinates. Regardless of the position, an employee generally uses classes related to functions of his/her unit. Among the functions of a unit, some functions are more likely to be used than the others. A user generally employs in his work some functional classes more than in others. If past behaviour is known, it is possible to say with great likelihood what functional classes a user is likely to employ when (s)he interacts with the ERMS. This is true especially if the user has a low position in the hierarchy. Hence, it seems possible to create unit/user proles, which could help both in automatic creation of metadata, and user interaction with a system. Unit and user proles could be created automatically by gathering information about the ERMS usage. One could also create them manually by analysing functions of units and users. User and unit proles are likely to work best in an organisation with a rigid and clear division of work. An organisation where job descriptions are uid may not benet from the creation of proles. Further research is needed to see how this would work in a larger, more complex organisation. As the functional span of an organisation

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and its number of users grow, the ability to use the model presented may become more limited. The study has some limitations. The ndings are based on records metadata and examination of one government agency only. Inside the agency, some units and employees used the ERMS more than the others, which may skew the results. It is also possible that some records were misclassied and this has affect on the results. However, there is no reason to assume that the number of misclassied records would be high. Instead of misclassication, seeming anomalies in the metadata may reect organisational work that does not comply with ofcial descriptions of organisational processes. Another limitation in the study is that the agency ERMS was not used to capture the organisations internal communication. The records in the ERMS show the formal decision making process and the agencys interaction with the outside world. They tell less about what happens inside the organisation when inputs are turned to outputs. There may have been free owing internal e-mail discussions, which had they been captured in the ERMS would make the picture of the organisational behaviour different. Archival theorists have been concerned about how some groups are marginalised in records and archives (Schwartz and Cook, 2002). The paucity of information about discussions inside the agency shows that there may be reason for concern. Although one case study cannot give a comprehensive and reliable view on how electronic records management systems are generally used in organisations, the ndings are indicative. Conclusions Access to electronic records management systems could be facilitated by building systems that guide users interacting with the system. This could be accomplished by creating unit proles which link units to organisational functions described in the classication scheme. In the case of executive staff it would be helpful to create user proles that are either based on previous usage history of the ERMS or a persons tasks in the unit. Although this does not allow us to fully automate record classication process, combined with content-based classication methods it might produce good results. This is an area where we need further studies. Also, the ndings of this study should be tested in other organisational environments. People at different organisational levels used an electronic management system differently. This should be taken into consideration when systems are planned. The same solution may not be optimal for both managerial and executive work in an organisation.
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records management: how the classication is used in the Tampere Technical University]. Informaatiotutkimuksen ja interaktiivisen median laitos. Tampere, Tampereen yliopisto, available at: http://tutkielmat.uta./pdf/gradu03785.pdf (accessed 30 June 2009). Shephard, E. and Yeo, G. (2003), Managing Records. A Handbook of Principles and Practice, Facet, London. Singh, P., Klobas, J.E. and Anderson, K. (2007), Information-seeking behaviour of electronic records management systems (ERMS) users: implications for records management practices, HumanIT, Vol. 9, available at: (accessed 20 August 2007). Smith, K. (2007), Public Sector Records Management. A Practical Guide, Ashgate, Aldershot. Smyth, Z.A. (2005), Adopting a functional classication of business processes in Northern Ireland, Journal of the Society of Archivists, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 233-42. Todd, M. (2003), Business Classication Scheme Design. Version 1.0. October, available at: www. (accessed 30 December 2008). Tough, A. (2006), Records and the transition to the digital, in Tough, A. and Moss, M. (Eds), Record Keeping in a Hybrid Environment. Managing the Creation, Use, Preservation and Disposal of Unpublished Information Objects in Context, Chandos Publishing, Oxford. Williams, C. (2006), Managing Archives. Foundations, Principles and Practice, Chandos Publishing, Oxford. Xie, L.S. (2007), Function-based records classication system: a comparative study, available at: (accessed 30 May 2010). Further reading International Organization for Standardization (2007), ISO 23081-2. Information and Documentation. Records Management Processes. Metadata for Records. Part 2. Conceptual and Implementation Issues, ISO, Bonn. About the authors Pekka Henttonen has a DSocSc in Archival Science. He has worked in the National Archives of Finland and in the Military Archives of Finland. Currently, he is Assistant Professor in the Department of Information Studies and Interactive Media at Tampere University, Finland. His research area is electronic records management. Pekka Henttonen is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: pekka.henttonen@uta. Kimmo Kettunen has a PhD in Information Retrieval. Currently, he works as a Research Manager at Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences in Finland.

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