The overlap between enterprise content management and the information management strategies of the two municipalities

The study findings revealed that there were similarities between ECM and the information management activities of the municipalities. The majority of those interviewed in the study were not aware of ECM as a concept. There were, however, a few who confirmed that the way information was being managed in the municipalities had some similarity with some of the ECM factors. The following informant, e.g., argued:

I partly think that we manage information as in the ECM strategy. We have different ways of handling our digital information in the different business systems that are closely connected to the different business activities but, I think we still miss a cross-organizational approach (Officer E9).

The municipalities were required to handle their information and records according to the legal framework governing public information. Within the information management framework, they undertook work that was similar to the ECM prescribed factors. This included: change management, business process management, collaboration, repurposing of information, knowledge management, and system integration (see Table 5.2).

The municipalities undertook change management whenever new systems were implemented because they recognized that without training staff, there would be a high risk of underutilization or rejection of the new information systems. Training also enabled the employees to acquire the necessary skills required in this new environment. There was also an opposite view that claimed that lots of investments

Table 5.1 Characteristics of ECM and records management




An emerging field and practice; a subfield of information systems for the computing disciplines.

Engages information systems researchers and the IT industry.

Endeavors to bring all of an organization’s unstructured content into a managed environment in order to promote information sharing, controlled access, retrievability, and archiving.

Defined as an integrated approach (an initiative) to managing all of an organization’s information content.

Is an established field and practice.

Engages records managers and archivists, and the IT industry.

Aims to control the creation, receipt, maintenance, use, and disposition of records efficiently and systematically.


Facilitate access to all the relevant information in an organization.

Used to manage records effectively by maintaining their authenticity, reliability, integrity, and usability and to improving the quality and coherence of processes.


Driven by the need to meet the global collaboration needs of an organization’s employees, customers, and partners through digital information content.

A convergence of document management, web content management, and digital asset management.

Claims to improve business process management; collaboration; change management; repurposing of information; knowledge

Driven by legislative requirements: underpins government accountability, freedom of information, and privacy legislation, protection of people’s rights and entitlements, and the quality of the archival heritage.

Takes care of risk

management, knowledge sharing, and organizational efficiency.


Table 5.1 (Continued)




management; system integration; enterprise architecture; and the management of information throughout its life cycle.


Focuses on content.

Focuses on records that are differentiated from other types of information because of their evidentiary value.

Social and technical aspects

Has social and technical aspects.

Has a social and technical aspect.


Life-cycle view: active,

semiactive, and retention or destruction.

Has a life-cycle, a records continuum perspective, and a view to long-term preservation.


Technology oriented but it is also claimed that it is also about the people and processes.

Both technology oriented and analog.


ECM is based on quality assurance standards ISO 9001 and ISO 17025.

In 2006, the need for increased interoperability among disparate ECM applications gave rise to an international standards organization called interoperable enterprise content management (iECM) consortium. The aim was to define standards and best practice.

Guided by international standards and best practice such as:

  • • ISO 15489.1: 2002 Records management—General
  • • ISO 15489.2: 2002 Records management—Guidelines
  • • Open Archival Information System (OAIS ISO 14721:2002)
  • • Standard for metadata ISO 23081;
  • • Technical Report on Work Process Analysis for Records ISO/TR 26122:2008
  • • ISO 30300:2011 Management system for records.

were being made in new applications but less was spent on change management. The following administrative manager P7 was, e.g., of the view that:

I think that little money is invested in training sessions. Expensive applications are bought and then it is believed that things will work out automatically and that is not often the case.

Table 5.2 Activities pursued by municipalities A and B similar to ECM

ECM factors

Records management factors

Municipality A

Municipality B



Engaged in change management.

Engaged in change management.




Process work was ongoing and process owners had been appointed. Results had led to the standardization of case handling in one of the units and the merging of some units.

Process work was ongoing but not at the same level as in municipality A.

Results in one of the units had led to rationalization of work, reduction in staff, and the merging of units.


Staff members collaborated around information but not in a systematic manner.

A project that aimed to promote information sharing was being planned.

The municipality had issues when it came to collaboration with other municipalities around innovative ideas that had not yet become official. This is because once this information was captured then it had to be made accessible in accordance with the Public Records Act.

Staff members collaborated around information but not in a systematic manner.

Repurposing of information

Consultation with old records and the archives was performed. Investments in a common repository had been made to facilitate information access, sharing, and traceability.

The municipality had undertaken information modeling though it was not enterprise wide.

Consultation with old records and archives was performed.

Investments had been made in a centralized registry function to facilitate readily access of records and traceability.



Employee-to-employee transfer of knowledge was the norm.

Two projects were underway to capture and to systematize knowledge management.

Employee-to-employee transfer of knowledge was the norm.



Had started thinking about system integration at the systems procurement stage.

Had started thinking about system

integration at the systems procurement stage.

Work with business process analysis was being undertaken but it was being pursued at differing levels of maturity. Municipality A had done much more than municipality B. Municipality A had, e.g., appointed process owners to work with process analysis. It, however, lacked a common definition for business process management. One of the informants argued that they had an IT perspective, a business perspective, and an information management perspective. The challenge was to create a common understanding of the term. In municipality B, process analysis was still premature, but there was awareness of its importance.

Collaboration around information management issues was emerging, and municipality A had even engaged in information modeling in order to identify information needs. However, this information modeling was not done at an enterprise-wide level. In both municipalities, the archives function was not integrated with the rest of the core functions, but archives were looked upon as a place to send records that were no longer active or a place to keep the original records. This meant that information that was to be reused was kept in the information management systems or in the intermediate archives. The central archives were consulted for old records. Information officers/IT Strategist P1 contended that close collaboration between the records management function and information technology units would facilitate the management of information. Some of the informants said they collaborated with the archivists and others were of the opposite view. Administrative Manager P15 stated that they had a good dialogue with the archivist:

Yes, but we could be better at utilizing the competence that we have in that area. I think that we have over time had a relatively good dialogue.

One of the informants in municipality A argued that the administrative staff ought to be made aware of the fact that they need the archivists during information planning. The following informants argued that:

The municipal archivist is not consulted as much as I would wish but he is being used more and more to structure up information, especially when it comes to how information is used in the business processes. This is meant to facilitate for the archives to manage it later (IT Strategist P8).

The archivist is a very progressive person but I think he is in certain processes consulted quite late (Administrative Manager P16).

The archivist is rarely consulted. I think he was involved in the procurement of the case and records management system in the steering group, but there are lots of other systems that are procured and used without his knowledge (IT Strategist P1).

I cannot answer whether the expertise of the archivist is utilized (Administrative Manager P13).

The municipality has not been good at utilizing the competence of the archival institution and the archivist. It is bad at utilizing that competence and letting the archivist be actively involved (IT Strategist P9)

The interviews revealed that in municipality B, there was no collaboration between the IT Unit and the archivist. In both municipalities, processes of information systems acquisition excluded the archivists and sometimes members of the IT unit. This created an IT infrastructure with disparate information systems that further exacerbated the issue of long-term preservation since the municipalities had to deal with many systems. Since the archivists were not consulted during information planning, the issue of long-term preservation was often not put into consideration. Focus was put on the management of current information in order to create more efficient business processes. The studies revealed that projects aimed at improving business processes often lacked long-term preservation strategies and this could be clarified by the fact that the archival expertise was often left out of such projects. The different information systems served as temporary “digital archives.” IT Strategist P1 argued that:

Our worst example is that in this municipality (A) there are three personnel salary systems of which two are “storage.” One of them is active and is our personnel administration system but since the other two have not been archived or migrated then they are also kept. It is a heavy job.

Municipality A was faced with the challenge of maintaining aging systems because there were no better replacements. Some systems were maintained because integration was difficult or the measures to migrate the information to new platforms were too expensive. In both municipalities, information was being repurposed by consulting old records or the archives. The fact that the municipalities did not have digital archives further complicated the proper re-use of information. This was an area that needed further development. The municipalities faced the challenge of knowledge management. There was no systematic way of managing the knowledge accumulated by long-term employees who had developed specialized knowledge. However, there was awareness of the need to establish a more developed system for knowledge capture. The following informant argued that:

Knowledge management is quite unstructured. In certain cases it is necessary to ensure that those who leave the organization for various reasons and have critical business information, that it is retained in the organization. Normally we do not do it but let the information disappear (Administrative manager P14).

The current knowledge management approach required retiring or vacating officers to pass on knowledge by working side by side with their replacements. This facilitated the maintenance of knowledge in-house while the replacement was being trained. The time period was limited as it was costly to pay two salaries for one position. Information/IT Strategist P8 revealed that a retired employee had tentatively introduced the idea of managing knowledge via a wiki. She further argued that this would be a systematic way to capture knowledge, but it would also require the engagement of all employees to document their problem solving tactics. In another instance, Administrative manager P12 expressed the fact that a project was being conducted to document the experiences of a member of staff who had worked in Municipality A for a long time. The project was to also include important documentation that has been accumulated by the retiring member of staff over the years. The project was to be completed before the person’s retirement.

The issue of disparate information systems was caused by uncoordinated procurement processes that were done outside the formal procurement procedures, and lack of enterprise architecture to guide investments in the IT infrastructure. This resulted in an IT infrastructure with disparate systems that created islands of information. These systems became stand-alone systems and created inefficiency, duplication of information, and needed separate maintenance. This further created integration problems. There was, however, a realization in both municipalities of the necessity to create a more consolidated IT environment with integrated systems. Municipality A had, therefore, invested in a case and records management system and it needed to integrate all its information systems and to migrate information from these legacy systems. However, some of the information systems were very old which made it practically impossible. Some of the information was manually moved to the new systems, which was a time-consuming exercise. Municipality A had about 50 systems that were old, and if anything were to go wrong information would be lost. The management of unstructured data in both municipalities remained a challenge. Issues regarding enterprise architecture had become more pronounced in municipality A because there was a growing awareness of how information systems and business processes should be aligned. However, this alignment was not yet well planned for or mapped. Sometimes, individual units purchased small systems that were specific for their activities. The following informant argued:

The municipality has an IT plan which lays out the process for acquisition of new systems but since all departments have their own budgets and finance their own IT systems then one ignores the IT-plan and indeed they do (IT strategist P1).

The information systems procurement process was supposed to involve representatives from different units, to establish whether an information system could serve more than one administrative unit. However, since the purchase of new systems was uncoordinated and was based on the individual administrative unit’s needs, it led to the implementation of specialized systems that only a few people could manage. Administrative manager P3 argued that:

We have some obvious worries where we are supposed to collaborate beyond the information systems’ boundaries. Right now we are in a process of changing the personnel system and the personnel planning system that are not integrated with each other. This is an area that needs further development. We have many specialized systems that are isolated.

Specialized systems required special competence which made the municipalities vulnerable where personnel who managed them on a regular basis were absent from work. The management of different information systems was costly and posed challenges. Responding to the issue of system integration Administrative manager P5 and IT strategist P1 expressed the fact that:

Integration is a requirement but I cannot say it is an issue we have effectively dealt with. We still have one or two systems that appear without consultation (Administrative manager P5).

The integration of systems is not thought about and when one buys new systems it comes up as a surprise during the pursuit of a project (IT strategist P1).

An informant in Municipality A argued that they were instead faced with the problem of multiple integrations of systems that are not standardized, and had problems with upgrades. The acquisition and mergers of system suppliers also caused problems to the municipalities. This complication was often overlooked during the formulation of requirements specifications. This meant that once a supplier of a system was bought up by another company, then the maintenance of the supplied system could not be guaranteed. Municipality A, e.g., was forced to buy a new personnel system despite the fact that the system it was using was still new and functioned well. The personnel also had just been trained after its implementation and were acquainted with it. The municipalities were, despite the challenges of information management, engaging in e-Government development and hence transforming their way of working.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >