As per the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) Directive on Recordkeeping, Government of Canada (GC) departments are required to identify information resources of business value (IRBVs) which enable or support their mandates. But what does this really mean?
Before heading out, intent on fulfilling TBS’s marching orders, we recommend first really thinking about why you must identify your IRBVs in order to better understand how to proceed in a way that not only meets the requirements set out by TBS (and Library and Archives Canada (LAC), but, most importantly, meets the needs and aligns with the priorities of your department.
Why identify IRBVs?
Simply put, it’s about knowing what you hold in order to manage it better. Compliance with central agencies is, perhaps, a catalyst for doing the work, but the real value of this endeavour will be realized within each individual organization or department.
In the end, identification (and further than that, understanding) of your IRBVs will be the key to moving toward more efficient and effective information management – it’s not just about ticking TBS and LAC’s boxes (though this is an important part of it!).
So how and where do I start?
We know that LAC requires an inventory of your information resources of business value, including information about which business processes they are inputs to/outputs of, as well as other contextual information such as business owner, storage location, sensitivity, etc. The best way to go about gathering this information is by conducting an IRBV inventory exercise.
Conducting an IRBV inventory exercise does not have to be an isolated IM initiative. In fact, many efficiencies and synergies can be realized if you’re able to gather the information you need for your inventory through other initiatives that are probably already happening, or about to happen. Conversely, an IRBV inventory – and the information it contains – can be a key input to a number of other IM initiatives, such as information architecture initiatives, classification renewal, EDRMS implementation, etc. So first consider what other IM initiatives are happening – or are soon to happen – in your organization before getting started. An IRBV inventory should be one element in your broader IM planning.
Once you understand the lay of the land for your organization, considering all ongoing and impending IM initiatives and priorities, you can begin planning your IRBV inventory activities.
1. Choose a methodology that makes sense considering your available resources, level of departmental support, and context (i.e. inputs that already exist, related initiatives).
2. Build a team. Types of resources you may want to include are: IM Analysts; Senior Records Officers; Business Analysts; and those experts in your organization with an Information Architecture view, as you may be using existing taxonomies to inform the work.
3. Build a work plan and implementation schedule, including:
- What you’re going to capture/document (e.g. IRBVs, business processes, storage locations, etc.);
- Key inputs that can inform your preliminary analysis (e.g. existing file plan, relevant LAC GVTs, existing records disposition authorities, etc.); and
- Roadmap with timelines and milestones.
4. Develop required tools and templates (e.g. communications materials, consultation guides, etc.).
5. Train your team on how to use tools and templates and ensure they understand desired outcomes.
6. Pilot your methodology with a select business unit and document findings/lessons learned.
7. Refine methodology, tools and templates accordingly.
8. Follow refined methodology with remaining business units to document remainder of IRBVs and related information.
One key consideration is how do you intend to use this IRBV tool? Depending on how you see yourselves using the inventory and its applicability to other IM initiatives, you may choose to design it in different ways.
Another key consideration is determining early where to put the majority of your efforts. For example, it’s better to focus as much effort as possible on identifying operational IRBVs over those related to internal services, as the latter are typically well-managed in divisions such as HR and Finance, and LAC and TBS have already put significant effort into defining these IRBVs via their Generic Valuation Tools (GVTs).
We believe the real key to the success of an IRBV inventory initiative is realizing its relationship with and potential dependencies on other IM initiatives, and taking a holistic IM planning approach. Inputs from other projects can inform your inventory, and vice versa. This reduces effort all around, and enables you to realize better, more efficient results.