Applying the implementation strategy
If in Step E: Identification of strategies for recordkeeping, you selected implementation as a strategy that would be of use to your organisation, this section examines how you can develop and use a range of implementation options as means to improve organisational recordkeeping.
Your work to date may have revealed that you need to:
- design new processes and work flows that incorporate recordkeeping functionality, and/or
- redesign existing processes and work flows to incorporate recordkeeping functionality.
Step F is the point in the methodology where you look at redesigning work processes so that they encompass adequate recordkeeping.
Your work in Step D: Assessment of existing systems may have revealed that changes should be made to business processes to eliminate existing problems, such as:
- information bottlenecks and duplication
- information double-handling, and
- inability to quickly locate and retrieve important information (including records).
You would design approaches to eliminate such problems in the course of your Step F work.
An organisation has worked through the DIRKS methodology and realised that its current business processes are contributing to its poor recordkeeping practices.
In their Step B analysis they documented their current workflows.
In Step D they identified that in no point of the workflow for the complaints management process or the policies surrounding this process were staff required to formally create a record of their responses to a complaint. This had resulted in a number of significant business inconveniences to the organisation. It also meant that the organisation was not complying with its Charter of Public Service. The Step D analysis revealed that technical applications were appropriate and required no configuration - people had just not been instructed in how to use them appropriately.
In Step E the organisation decided to adopt the policy and implementation strategies to rectify the issues they had identified.
In Step F the organisation redesigned the work process underpinning its complaints management process, as part of its application of the implementation strategy. After consultation with staff, the following workflow was decided upon:
- Receive complaint
- Register date and nature of complaint in complaints management system
- Research complaint
- Formulate response
- Respond to complainant verbally or in writing
- Capture details and date of response in complaints management system
As part of the implementation strategy, the organisation also decided to develop training for staff involved in complaints management, to explain why complaints need to be documented and how this documentation should be achieved. This training was tailored to those staff who managed complaints management, and was designed to provide a very practical overview of how the new process worked. A number of case studies and practical examples were used in the training to help accustom people to the new practice.
In applying the policy strategy, the organisation chose in Step F to develop corporate procedures for complaints management.
Manage change and involve users
Changes to business processes will result in the creation of new, or the modification of old, business rules. More importantly, it will result in new ways of working for staff. Changes to business processes must have clear management backing, and be supported by:
- the assignment and documentation of new roles and responsibilities;
- timely modification or development of guidelines and operating procedures, and
- training in new responsibilities, processes and procedures.
Try to support any changes you make to business processes by:
- issuing policies and procedures that support or explain your revised business processes,
- developing detailed or minor training to help staff understand the changes, and/or
- incorporating aspects of your business process redesign into any technical work you are undertaking. You may be able to automate aspects of business processes, or make certain steps in a workflow mandatory.
Supporting business change in this way will help staff to understand and implement the new processes you are requiring.
There is significant potential for business process change to cause major disruption to staff (and, hence, to the organisation's business). Any redesign of work flows and business processes should be handled sensitively and within a change management framework.
Tip: Discuss changes with users
If you are redesigning work processes for a particular work group, it may be useful to verify your recommendations using a formal review process. You could convene a meeting with affected staff and go through your redesign of work processes, explain what you have done and why you have done it, and show how the changes you have made enable the group and the organisation to better meet their requirements. At the meeting users and other stakeholders could be given the opportunity to ask questions, comment, criticise or suggest alternatives to the design you have developed. Remember, involving users in the process is crucial to any effective system redesign.
If you believe that a staff training program will be necessary to enable effective system implementation in your organisation, Step F will involve you developing a training strategy that allows you to achieve this objective. This strategy will be implemented in Step G, Implementation of a recordkeeping system.
If you are developing a training strategy, in Step F you should specifically identify:
- what concepts, policies, procedures or requirements you want to support using training
- recommended training methods - will training be face to face, online, publication based, hands-on use of live system etc, developed and conducted by internal or external staff, and
- the timetable for your training schedule.
Tip: Include all relevant offices
If it is appropriate, do not forget to include all offices of your organisation in your training strategy.
As has been discussed, training should be used as a strategy to support virtually any DIRKS project. Training ensures that staff affected by the design of the new recordkeeping system are informed, supported and equipped with the appropriate skills and experience to effectively use this system.
Tip: Use what has worked previously
If you have adopted training strategies in the past that proved effective in your organisation, use them again. Know what training strategies have failed and this knowledge to avoid making similar mistakes.
What to support using training
Making decisions about the type and content of the training you will offer to staff will largely depend:
- the nature of the system changes you are implementing
- the staff members' roles in relation to the operation of the new system, and
- the appropriate knowledge and skills required to carry out that role.
If the system changes you are implementing are significant, fairly detailed training in actual use of the system may be required for all staff that will use it. If changes are minimal but you still want to keep people informed, your training strategy could comprise a ten minute briefing at your next staff meeting.
If the changes to your recordkeeping systems are significant, or if you think there is an organisational need for it, you may wish to collect information regarding current levels of knowledge and expertise in order to assess individual, work group and organisational training needs. Some of this information may have emerged during your DIRKS project and can be used to guide your training strategy development.
Example: General training in the principles of records management
You may have discovered in your investigations that there is little knowledge of general principles of records management or even what constitutes a record in your organisation. There may also be little knowledge about the recordkeeping responsibilities of staff. Therefore, general training on these issues may be required before launching into more detailed training on recordkeeping tools or systems.
Other ways to collect information about training needs might include:
- job analysis
- quality control and performance appraisal reports, and
- skills analysis and/or audit.
Tip: Use targetted training tactics
Depending on your target audience, special one-on-one or tailored training may also be required for managerial staff or select groups of users with particular responsibilities.
Determine how training will be developed and presented
If you recommend that training should be developed and presented internally, your training strategy should identify the person or persons with training drafting and presentation responsibilities.
Recommended training methods
Depending on the needs of your organisation or the nature of the system you are implementing, you may want to develop a range of delivery methods for your training strategy, or adopt a specific method that is going to best meet your needs.
Possible options for your training program include:
- face-to-face training, where participants also have 'hands-on' practice on a live system
- online, context-sensitive help
- reference cards and charts
- 'tips and hints' documentation, regularly updated in response to problems and quirks encountered by users
- user guides and manuals - in hard-copy form, or made available on your organisation's intranet, and
- user help-desk facilities.
Be guided by your own risks, resources and systems when determining the best method of training for your organisation.
Example: Online training or printed course materials
If yours is a large and distributed organisation and you know you will never gather all relevant staff in one place at one time, investigating online training or the use of printed course materials which people can pick up in their own time.
Example: Working through changes in small groups
If you have implemented significant technical changes to the system and consequent changes to business processes, it may be best to sit people down in small groups in front of the new technology and walk them through the changes.
Example: Immediate training and induction training package
You may decide to have an immediate training run, where you provide all current staff with an overview of the existing system. However you also decide to develop an induction training package, to ensure all new staff are also provided with relevant information about recordkeeping and the organisation's recordkeeping systems.
External training options
If you do not have the resources internally to develop courses and present them to all relevant staff, you may want to consider engaging consultants to do this for you. Records management consultants can develop customised training and present this for staff. A wide range of consultants who may be able to develop such training for you are listed in the Records Management Association of Australia's Product and Services Directory.
Alternatively, you may want to examine the different forms of external training that are available. External training options might include:
- tailored courses prepared and provided by external consultants
- presentations by records management software vendors
- vocational, undergraduate and post graduate courses in archives and records management conducted by TAFE or universities, and
- short courses, seminars and other forms of continuing education offered by State Records, tertiary institutions and professional associations.
Develop a training timetable
It is important to determine when you are going to implement your training plans. Consider the state of your system's development, issues that may have previously delayed its deployment or other risks it may face.
With these in mind, draft a plan that states when you will have training content developed by, when when you will present this content to users, or alternatively, when you will engage consultants to develop a training package for you.
Be sure to consider the requirements of your chosen training method - face to face classes, formal course reading material etc when finalising your timetable.
Note that this training timetable will need to be referenced in the broader implementation timetable you develop as part of Step G: Implementation of a recordkeeping system
Tip: Keep focussed on your target audience
Remember your target audience and remember the message you want to communicate. When developing course material, try to explain your message using examples that are relevant to your target audience and provide them with knowledge that will be directly relevant to their responsibilities.
When determining a project timetable, also keep users in mind. Try not to let there be a lag between the time the system is rolled out, and the time when users actually receive training.