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Functional classification of records and organisational structure

Pekka Henttonen (Department of Information Studies and Interactive Media, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)
Kimmo Kettunen (Department of Information Studies and Interactive Media, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland)

Records Management Journal

ISSN: 0956-5698

Article publication date: 12 July 2011

Abstract

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 classification 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 user's organisational unit) typically need in their work.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on two sources. The first source is metadata in records that were captured in the electronic records management system of the agency. It reflects actual behaviour of users when they interact with the system and classification 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 classification. However, this does not apply at a higher level in the organisational hierarchy: the higher the person's 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 identified as belonging to the employee's unit.

Research limitations/implications

The study is based on one agency with a functional organisational structure. The findings may not apply to organisations where job descriptions are fluid. They should also be tested in more complex organisational settings. One could develop new methods of automated classification 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 profiles defining 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

Citation

Henttonen, P. and Kettunen, K. (2011), "Functional classification of records and organisational structure", Records Management Journal, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 86-103. https://doi.org/10.1108/09565691111152035

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited