Category: Information Management

Our New Space: Designed for Collaboration to Help Our Clients Transform

Mash-ups. The world seems to love them. Everything from Web content to songs and videos are being mashed to create new energy, ideas and outcomes. Why not clichés? If we take the ideals of “Location, location, location” and “Timing is everything” and mash them up, they pretty much form a foundational piece of Systemscope’s announcement that we have moved into a new, larger office space in Ottawa’s Byward Market.

Systemscope is one of Ottawa’s leading strategic consulting firms, specializing in business and service transformation. “Transformation doesn’t happen in a box, or simply through a tool … it requires a collective conscience around a business challenge, where collaboration can produce a clear path forward,” argues Systemscope Partner and Government Service Excellence Practice Lead, Stephen Karam.

With this in mind, “Location, location, location” embodies not only the physical address of the new Systemscope offices, but the layout as well. Systemscope chose the former Shopify offices as its new home primarily because the footprint of the office space makes it ideal to foster collaboration, creativity, and innovation, which are essential in the transformation process for the company’s clients.

The new offices are anything but typical. The new Systemscope environment boasts a variety of creative office spaces including:

  • communal offices for the company’s three Practice Areas (Government Service Excellence, Enterprise Information Architecture, and Strategic Business Consulting)
  • an expansive boardroom for hosting clients in more formal, facilitated workshop settings and for firm-wide strategic planning;
  • the “Systemscope lab” – a glass enclosed central room where multiple practice teams can work together to cross-fertilize ideas among different project and practice areas, and formally develop architectures, models, methodologies and more; and
  • finally, and perhaps most significant to our quest for optimized collaboration, there will be the “Systemscope Lounge” where employees and clients can meet in a central and casual environment to stimulate the creative and out-of-the-box thinking for which Systemscope is known.

This collaborative approach is the key to Systemscope’s successful service offerings, and is entirely reflected in the design choices for the new space. A significant portion of the new office is dedicated to casual common spaces including the lounge, a kitchen, a library, a shower facility (for those who wish to bike or run to work), and even a yoga ball. Even the senior partners of the firm, Denis Barbeau and Stephen Karam, insist on maintaining a shared office in order not to lose touch with the ethos of the firm.

In a further attempt to enable the nature of Systemscope’s collaborative practices, Systemscope will introduce the practice of having monitors showcasing the range of Systemscope’s work and client successes to date. “We are so busy and so focused on current projects that it is easy to lose sight of the excellent work we have already completed. This showcase is a constant reminder for us, and our clients, of the successes of the past and the full range of Systemscope capabilities.” says Kellen Greenberg, Director of Strategic Business Consulting.

“Collaboration doesn’t happen in isolation, and it must respect the systems of human and organizational behaviour” maintains Denis Barbeau, Partner and Practice Lead for Strategic Business Consulting. “Systemscope has picked a time in government where collaboration is needed more than ever and our new location is built just for this purpose.”

Our New Space!

 Learn More:

Systemscope Claims Old Shopify Digs – Ottawa Business Journal profile
Our New Space: Designed For Collaboration to Help Our Clients Transform by Denis Barbeau, Systemscope Partner
Introducing the Systemscope Lounge – Our Creative Commons by Denise Eisner, Senior Consultant

Overview of TBS and LAC Recordkeeping Roles and Tools

Having trouble making sense of the plethora of tools that LAC and TBS have provided in support of recordkeeping (RK) implementation? Always digging around trying to find the RKAI or to remember what came first – the diagnostic tool or the RK methodology? Here’s Systemscope’s quick and dirty, handy back-pocket guide to GC RK Compliance Tools.

It is Treasury Board Secretariat’s (TBS) job to:

• Develop policies and associated instruments
• Support departments in the implementation of policies and associated instruments
• Assess compliance with policies and instruments through a variety of means (including the Management Accountability Framework [MAF] annual reporting tool)
• Measure the success of their policies

It is Library and Archived Canada’s (LAC) job to:

• facilitate IM in Government, especially digital
• ensure GC information of enduring value is identified and preserved
• be accountable for the final decisions about what gets kept and what gets deleted.

LAC’s new “RK Methodology” is an improved method for identifying GC departmental records that have enduring value (IREVs) from within a department’s collection of information resources of business value (IRBVs). This methodology has been developed to allow LAC to efficiently produce Records Disposition Authorities (RDAs) however LAC will not release RDAs to departments that are not RK Compliant.

The purpose of the new LAC methodology is to provide a streamlined process that is:

• Faster: 3-6 month bundles
• Collaborative: dedicated expert teams (departments and LAC)
• Risk-informed
• Adapts generic tools to individual contexts
• Leverages what is known

The Key Requirements of the TBS Directive on Recordkeeping

Key Requirements of the TBS Directive on Recordkeeping

Source: TBS – TBS website – Directive on Record Keeping Section 6

Tool – The TBS Recordkeeping Compliance Maturity Model

The TBS Recordkeeping Compliance Maturity ModelThe TBS Recordkeeping Compliance Maturity Model #2

Source: TBS – from the deck “The Roadmap to Recordkeeping : Maturity Model (TBSSCT 1013178)

The TBS Recordkeeping Road Map

The TBS Recordkeeping Road MapThe TBS Recordkeeping Road Map Pt 2The TBS Recordkeeping Road Map Part 3

Source: TBS – from the deck “The RK Roadmap – The Challenge of Recordkeeping in the GC – RK Day (March 22, 2011)”

LAC’s Phases of the Recordkeeping Methodology

Its purpose: the phases of LAC’s methodology for addressing the order and manner in which departments will be engaged in newly streamlined archival review activities.
LAC’s Phases of the Recordkeeping MethodologyExports of the RK Methodology

Source: LAC – from the deck “Managing Information as an Asset: A Methodology for Effective Recordkeeping”

LAC Diagnostic Tool

Its Purpose: to allow departments to accurately express their level of RK maturity in order to calculate the institution’s readiness and complexity of effort for an LAC RDA engagement.
This is an Excel spreadsheet with a great variety of worksheets (e.g. readiness, complexity, impact).
cheat sheet

Diagnostic Tool Home Page thumbnail

Source: LAC – from Diagnostic Tool excel spreadsheet.

LAC Generic Valuation Tools

Their purpose: to streamline the RKM valuation and controls process by providing risk-informed, evidence-based analysis and recommendations. The tools:

• combine enduring valuation recommendations with suggested information resources of business value (IRBV) and suggested retention specifications
• assemble existing knowledge around appraisal, business processes, business value and retention

11 GVTs to be developed based on TBS Profile of GC Internal Services:
• HR, IT, IM, Management and Oversight, Communications, Financial Management, Material Management, Acquisitions, Legal Services, Real Property, Travel and Other
• Examples: Employee Performance, Learning, Development and Recognition
•	Examples:  Employee Performance, Learning, Development and Recognition
Other GVTs to be developed for common operations in the GC:
• Transfer Payments,
• Investigating,
• Regulating,
• Legal Affairs,
• Adjudicating,
• Research and Development,
• Cabinet Affairs…
Example: Program and Project Administration

Example: Program and Project Administration

Source: LAC – from “Transfer Payments” , references “Policy on Transfer Payments, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, 2008.”

LAC Recordkeeping Accountability Instrument (RKAI)

Its purpose: The final identification of information resources of business value and enduring value (IRBV and IREV), as well as the accountable roles (Designation for Recordkeepers) and RK Controls information.
As shown below the instrument brings together required information to demonstrate RK compliance:
RK Accountability Instrument
The tool is a set of Excel worksheets for reporting:
– controls on RK repositories
– controls on legacy information
– business processes aligned to PAA
– information resources that are outputs of the business processes, with designated RK roles
– combination of all of the above

Source: LAC – from the deck “Managing Information as an Asset: A Methodology for Effective Recordkeeping”

Is Your Information Really an Asset?

by Linda Daniels-Lewis.

Is your information really an asset?

In other words, does it have any value? That may seem to be a philosophical question but, in fact, it’s quite practical. Since the value of information is in its use, what I’m really asking is: is it well-used? More particularly, ‘is it well used now?’ rather than ‘will it be valuable as historical evidentiary material at some point in the future?’

While we all state lofty goals to manage information as a strategic asset “to support program and service delivery; foster informed decision making; facilitate accountability, transparency, and collaboration” as well as to “preserve and ensure access to information and records for the benefit of present and future generations,” to quote the GC Policy on Information Management, as information managers we often focus too much on the latter: preservation, rather than on the ways that we can make information useful, and therefore valuable, now.

I think the key take-away from the Policy on Information Management is that, as information managers, we should focus on ensuring “digital information is accessible, shareable and usable.” After all, we are talking “digital” information, not paper. We have to think of different ways to use the technology available to us so that we can manipulate our rich knowledge bases of unstructured information assets in the same ways as business applications can manipulate valuable structured data. We have to make the corporate document and records management system a key resource for busy policy developers and service deliverers!

Just what am I talking about? Well fundamentally it’s this:

We have to transform the concept of information management from “filing” information to “using” information.

The people who place a real value on using digital information are those that run e-commerce sites; for them, organizing the information in the right way to ensure their customers get what they want means real $$. When we go to their sites, we don’t expect to navigate through a complex folder structure; we expect to select a category, refine that by further sub-categories, and eventually arrive at that exact pair of shoes, book, or car that we need. We navigate intuitively on these sites; we don’t have to learn structures; we are guided cleverly to “Check Out”.

We can do the same for guiding users quickly to the information they want, along the discovery paths they choose, with no wrong way; and we can do it now. For users that only ever want the same information, we can get them there quickly and save their path as a Favourite (then a one click route). For those that want to explore and share knowledge to maximize innovation, they can explore the knowledge base in any way they want, using categories for activities, subjects/topics, time periods, organizational groups, etc. For executives who want to see a high-level strategic view of the organization’s directions and results across the enterprise, they can see the knowledge resources in information dashboard views.

Introducing these new “eBay style” architectures will be a shift for users as well as information managers. Users will be asked to tag their documents in ways to make them useful to their colleagues. Yes, I know, users hate metadata . . . but we can use information architecture components in ways to make it easy for the end users and provide so much “pay back” that they will understand what’s in it for them.

You can hear more about some of the architectural components we have been working with in our GTEC workshop on “eBay-syle Architectures for Government Information” this Tuesday, October 18th at 2:30pm.

GTEC 2011

Systemscope returned to GTEC again this year on October 18, 2011. Three informative and compelling workshops were presented by our consultants paired with innovative public servants.

PRESENTATIONS NOW AVAILABLE! (see individual session descriptions below)

(Version française)

Workshop #1 View the presentation!

Finding Savings: Back to Basics
Gail Eagen, DG of IT Operations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Kellen Greenberg, Director Integrated Process Management, Systemscope
Kathy Roy, Senior Consultant, Systemscope


Departments have a renewed focus on identifying cost-savings and efficiency gains through new GC deficit reduction initiatives. And contrary to popular belief, finding savings does not have to be as painful as you may think.[spoiler title=”Read More”] It even presents an exciting opportunity to transform the way we do business and serve Canadians better. It is an opportunity, however, that requires a proven and structured response.

Systemscope has been working with our clients to develop just that. We have brought together a framework that includes a series of management decision-making tools to facilitate the cost reduction process. Our approach can better structure your initiative for greater success.

This session presented our innovative approach to delivering tangible and sustainable cost-savings as part of an operational review process and as a regular means of managing your daily work.  Gail Eagen , DG of IT Operations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Kellen Greenberg, Director Integrated Process Management, and Kathy Roy, Senior Consultant, shared real life experiences and ‘tools’ that have been adopted by public, private and crown corporation clients.


Workshop #2 View the presentation!

Top-Down Implementation in a Bottoms-Up World
Stephen Karam, Partner and Practice Lead, Government Service Excellence, Systemscope
Jennifer Conlin, Assistant Director, Service Transformation, Service Analysis and Transformation Divison, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Dan Batista, Director, Service Innovation, Industry Canada

Remember the days in Government when it took 2-3 years for IT-enabled business solutions to see the light of day, only to result in almost immediate erosion and obsolescence?  Using the traditional waterfall approach of ensuring that business requirements are fully captured before functional design and solution architecture can take place usually leads to timelines that are no longer acceptable in the new government culture of strategic & operational review and fiscal restraint.[spoiler title=”Read More”] The cries of “We need to see savings now!” paradoxically coupled with “We can’t degrade client service!” can be heard echoing through many a hall in GC departments and agencies.  These new priorities are creating a demand for shorter cycles to achieving outcomes and measurable results.

Systemscope has recognized this change in landscape and has been working with government departments such as HRSDC, Industry Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to develop online transformational business solutions including a grants & contributions (Gs&Cs) environment, BizPaL 2.0 and AgPal using a top-down design approach.  This methodology takes a page from the agile development approach by simply allowing for design, user experience, and content modeling iterations to be performed with eventual users and administrators of the system, prior to any functional design and architecture work taking place.  By building a prototyping sandbox using real data and processes, this allows departments to “kick the tires” on the requirements prior to setting them in stone, ensuring that whatever requirements are output have actually be tested with users, contributing to success and demand of the solution.  Furthermore, it’s a surefire way to get executives excited about a transformation initiative when they can actually see it in action!

Stephen Karam (Systemscope Partner and Practice Lead, Government Service Excellence), Jennifer Conlin, Assistant Director, Service Transformation, Service Analysis and Transformation Divison, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Dan Batista, Director, Service Innovation, Industry Canada facilitated a healthy discussion of the myriad benefits of this approach, remaining challenges and a review of info systems currently under development using this approach.


Workshop #3 View the presentation!

eBay-style Architectures for Government Information
Linda Daniels-Lewis,  Senior Consultant, Enterprise Information Management, Systemscope

New information architectures are less about “filing” information and more about “using” information and performing actions on information. We have been working with our clients to develop optimized information architectures for team collaboration, for information use and sharing, and for the retention and disposition of records that are more integrated with their business process and that provide search and navigation experiences more like those on popular Internet sites. [spoiler title=”Read More”]

We have focused on removing the responsibility of users to declare records and on removing the constraints of folders, requiring people to know how to navigate deep hierarchies and agree on whether to file their documents by, for example, subject or date under the various sub-activity folders. Using document properties as content filters, the experience of using enterprise knowledge stores can now feel more like using e-commerce sites and information portals with dynamic, guided navigation techniques.

This session presented the results of some of our architecture implementation concepts using SharePoint 2010 information constructs to produce agile, flexible information architectures to support business activities. Linda Daniels-Lewis, Systemscope Senior Consultant, explained how we have used the following SharePoint 2010 features to improve collaboration, separate transitory information from information of business value, automatically identify and declare key records, and separate active and inactive records for retention and disposition purposes:

– site templates
– libraries
– content types
– managed metadata
– workflows
– with minimum use folders


GTEC 2011

Systemscope a retourné au GTEC le 18 octobre 2011 avec trois convaincantes présentations riches en renseignements.

Les présentations sont maintenant disponible! (en anglais seulement)

Atelier no 1

Dénicher des économies : un retour aux sources
Gail Eagen, DG d’Opérations TI, Agriculture et agroalimentaire Canada
Kellen Greenberg, directeur de la gestion de procédés intégrés, Systemscope
Kathy Roy, conseillère principale, Systemscope

Les ministères orientent à nouveau leurs efforts sur l’identification d’économies de coûts et de gains d’efficacité dans le cadre d’initiatives de réduction du défit au GC. Et contrairement à ce qu’on pourrait s’imaginer, il n’est pas toujours pénible de dénicher des économies de coûts.[spoiler title=”Pour en savoir plus”]

En effet, il peut s’agir d’une occasion excitante de transformer la manière dont nous faisons affaire et de mieux servir les Canadiens et les Canadiennes. Une opportunité qui toutefois nécessite une approche systématique éprouvée.

Justement, Systemscope a collaboré avec ses clients pour élaborer cette approche. Nous avons développé un cadre conceptuel qui comprend une série d’outils décisionnels pour les gestionnaires qui facilite le processus de réduction de coûts. Notre approche offre une structure qui saura orienter votre initiative vers le succès.

Cette session a présenté notre approche novatrice pour produire des réductions de coûts viables et tangibles dans le cadre d’un processus d’examen opérationnel ainsi que la gestion opérationnelle quotidienne. Gail Eagen, DG d’Opérations TI, Agriculture et agroalimentaire Canada, Kellen Greenberg, directeur de la gestion de procédés intégrés, et Kathy Roy, conseillère principale de chez Systemscope ont partagé des cas vécus  et des « outils » adoptés par des clients du domaine public et privé et des sociétés d’État.


Atelier no 2

Une mise en œuvre descendante dans un monde en ascension
Stephen Karam, directeur de l’excellence du service gouvernemental, Systemscope
Jennifer Conline, Directrice adjoint, Division des Analyses et transformation des services, Agriculture et agroalimentaire Canada
Dan Batista, Directeur, Innovation dans les services, Industrie Canada

Vous vous rappelez des jours où au gouvernement, une période de 2 à 3 ans était nécessaire pour créer des solutions d’affaires de TI qui devenaient presque immédiatement érodées et dépassées ? L’utilisation de la traditionnelle approche en cascade voulant que toutes les exigences organisationnelles soient identifiées avant de procéder à un design fonctionnel et une solution d’architecture mène à des délais qui ne sont plus acceptables au sein de la nouvelle culture d’examen stratégique et opérationnel et de réductions budgétaires du gouvernement.[spoiler title=”Pour en savoir plus”] Les exigences d’ «  économies immédiates! » paradoxalement juxtaposées à celles de « niveaux de la clientèle qui n’en souffriront pas ! » font écho dans plusieurs bureaux des ministères et agences du GC. Ces nouvelles priorités exigent un cycle plus court qui mène aux objectifs voulus et à des résultats mesurables.

Systemscope a identifié cette évolution et a collaboré avec certains ministères dont RHDCC, Industrie Canada et  Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada pour développer des  solutions d’affaires transformationnelles en ligne dont un environnement de subventions et contributions (S et C), PerLE 2.0 et AgPal à l’aide d’une approche de conception descendante. Cette méthodologie est à l’image de l’approche de développement agile qui permet d’effectuer simplement des itérations de design, d’expérience utilisateur et de modélisation du contenu par les utilisateurs et administrateurs éventuels du système, avant d’effectuer tout travail de design et d’architecture fonctionnels. En bâtissant un prototype à l’aide de vraies données et de processus, les ministères peuvent donc le mettre à l’essai et déterminer leurs exigences avant de prendre une décision finale, ce qui assure que toute exigence est en fait un résultat testé par les usagers et qui contribuera au succès et à la demande de la solution. De plus, il est beaucoup plus facile de fidéliser les gestionnaires cadres à votre initiative de transformation si vous pouvez leur montrer votre produit en action.

Stephen Karam (Systemscope directeur de l’excellence du service gouvernemental), Jennifer Conlin, Directrice adjoint, Division des Analyses et transformation des services, Agriculture et agroalimentaire Canada et Dan Batista, Directeur, Innovation dans les services, Industrie Canada ont facilité une discussion animée des avantages indéniables de cette approche, des défis qui demeurent et un examen des systèmes d’information qu’on développe présentement à l’aide de cette approche.


Atelier no 3

Des architectures d’information gouvernementale à la eBay
Linda Daniels-Lewis, conseillère en chef, Systemscope

Les nouvelles architectures de l’information sont moins axées sur la « classification » de l’information et s’orientent plutôt sur leur « utilisation » et les actions à effectuer. Nous collaborons avec nos clients afin de développer des architectures de l’information qui optimisent le travail d’équipe, l’utilisation et le partage des renseignements et la rétention et le déclassement de documents afin de mieux s’intégrer à leurs processus d’affaires et fournir des expériences de recherche et de navigation plus semblables à celles que l’on retrouve sur les sites Internet populaires. [spoiler title=”Pour en savoir plus”]

Pour ce faire, les utilisateurs n’ont plus la responsabilité de déclarer les fichiers et nous avons supprimé les contraintes qu’imposent les répertoires qui exigeaient que les gens sachent comment naviguer des hiérarchies complexes et s’accorder sur la méthode de classification de leurs documents comme, par exemple : par sujet, par date ou dans divers répertoires de sous-activités. En utilisant les propriétés d’un document comme filtres du contenu, l’expérience d’utilisation des magasins de connaissances de l’entreprise se compare maintenant à l’utilisation de sites de cybercommerce et de portails d’information dotés de techniques de navigation dynamiques et dirigées.

Cette session a présenté les résultats de la mise en œuvre de nos concepts d’architecture d’information à l’aide de SharePoint 2010 afin de produire des architectures d’information agiles et polyvalentes au service des activités de l’entreprise. Linda Daniels-Lewis, Systemscope conseillère en chef, a expliqué la manière dont nous avons utilisé les caractéristiques SharePoint suivantes pour améliorer la collaboration, séparer l’information transitoire de l’information de valeur à l’entreprise, identifier et déclarer automatiquement les fichiers clés et séparer les fichiers actifs et inactifs à des fins de rétention ou de disposition :

– modèles de sites
– librairies
– types de contenu
– gestion de métadonnées
– flux des travaux
– utilisation minimale de répertoires


Goodbye Librarians, Hello Information Ninjas!

We recently had the privilege of presenting at the 2011 CLA conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. On a foggy weekend, we shared our thoughts on the future of librarianship and information management with an engaging room of library and information professionals.

The title of our presentation stemmed from an ongoing joke within Systemscope. Years ago, as new employees and recent grads, finding our niche in the firm and in our field was an ever-present challenge. One day we jokingly suggested they call us Information Ninjas. The name stuck, and after a while we realized how apt it was. We bring our library skills and knowledge of the broader realm of the organization and management of information to our jobs by stealth – many clients don’t know we went to library school, but it’s often great background for the type of work we do.

The MLIS (Master of Library and Information Studies) degree remains tied to the idea of traditional librarianship, and the traditional Librarian (bun, horn-rimmed glasses, shushing and all), but there is a broader information realm within which the skills and knowledge of the librarian are not only relevant, but in high demand.

What is this broader landscape we’re talking about? Librarians are all about collecting, preserving, managing, and providing access to information resources. There is, parallel to the world of libraries, a large collection of other, similar roles and organizations doing similar activities, related to different collections of information (records managers, archivists, data stewards, etc.). To a person seeking information, the library is just one source of many for the information they need.

Traditionally, library services have been distinguished by the fact that they deal solely with published materials but, we would argue, they can be applicable to a variety of information types. We are beginning to see that information is no longer intrinsically tied to one format. It is viscous, able to change shape as required. In order to adapt and continue to manage information in the best ways possible, those of us in the world of professional information services should not limit ourselves with arbitrary format distinctions (you handling the data, me handling the official records, him managing only published materials).

Models that define information roles and information services based on content type distinctions are becoming less relevant – more likely than not, we will begin seeing overlaps and complementary domains developing.

The great challenge of this “digital age” we find ourselves in will be ensuring we do what we do (the collection, preservation and management of information) in a way that ensures it is accessible in the future. No matter its format or content, we are really all about the information at the end of the day – and what’s it worth if we can’t access it?

This is a challenge librarians are well poised to meet. Librarians and other information professionals have the skills and knowledge to become the digital curators we need.

So what are the biggest foundational pieces of what will be required of our new role as Information Ninja?

  • Figuring out the best way to manage and access resources, wherever they are located and in whatever system and format they are stored.
  • Moving away from traditional records file and library classification systems and making innovative use of more consumable methods of classification such as metadata and social tagging.
  • Focusing on establishing common classification and management practices, applicable to any information resource, across systems and formats.
  • Recognizing and building the necessary skills: becoming tech savvy; building knowledge of search; understanding structured and unstructured content; learning about retention and preservation requirements, just to name a few.

At CLA, our presentation ended with a lively discussion about the future of the role of librarian. One audience member suggested that librarians begin to identify themselves as Information Professionals; others questioned whether or not the MLIS as a program of study is too narrowly focused, and whether or not it is still a valid degree. The dialogue surrounding what today’s information professional is continues to be engaging and thought-provoking, and this was shown at CLA.

We had a great time sharing our thoughts with the attendees, and hope to continue the discussion about the future of librarianship!

View our presentation.