IM and Business Process Mapping: A Tale of Two Consultants

By Kellen Greenberg and Linda Lee

As consultants working for government clients, we have recently noticed that “business process mapping” has become a loud whisper among the IM community. It has been said with interest, as well as with some trepidation. Regardless, IM specialists are starting to feel the need to understand this tool better and understand how it can be used within the IM context.

One of the reasons business process mapping is sparking a lot of interest is due to the new Directive on Recordkeeping that was released in July 2009. Government organizations are being asked to identify and focus on managing information resources of business value. One of the suggested methods for identifying information resources of business value is through business process mapping.

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I’m continually surprised at the new challenges that can be overcome using process mapping tools and techniques. When we first sat down and looked at the new Directive on Recordkeeping, it became apparent that the core challenge was not just identifying which records are of “business value”, but doing so with accuracy and efficiency – going through records one-by-one is not practical and applying batch values can often miss the mark.

As we talked through the challenges, process mapping started to show promise as the tool that could find the balance between “getting it right” and “cost effective”. Process mapping lets us focus on how documents are used, rather than what the document is. First, we identify the processes that are of value to your business, and associate with those, the records that are of value to the process.

The solution: Records, meet process.

Let’s take a transactional process as an example. The specifics of a transactional process will vary from one business line to the next. The specific steps may be different and the records used and produced throughout these steps will be different. However, at a higher level of detail, there are similarities that hold true across nearly all transactional processes. They all typically involve four basic steps: Receive request, process request, produce response, and follow-up. Further, the documents produced and used along these steps will have significant similarities in value.

By defining these generic processes for your organization, and defining generic records of business value within them, you can begin rolling-out the model across the whole organization.  Doing this will provide you with a sound first cut at defining the records of business value across the whole organization, and do so far more efficiently than other methods.

What this gets you:

  • Identification of records of business value at a generic level across the whole organization
  • Common approach for defining process types and records

What to do next:

  • Link specific documents from business lines to the generic ones identified
  • Continue to manage the definition of ‘business value’ at a process level

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Although the Directive on Recordkeeping may have ignited the interest in business process mapping, I have found that this tool can be very useful for both the IM specialist and the IM group in an organization.  This is true more than ever as the role of IM specialists is changing in this evolving GC IM environment. More and more, we are being asked to be business analysts.

Business process mapping can be a powerful communication tool. Communication is a large part of IM in an organization – communication of IM responsibilities and properly managing information. Process maps can very simply and effectively show the links between the business processes and IM requirements. For instance, process maps can clearly show business managers when and where to store the information resources created and collected in their business processes.

The exercise of identifying information resources of business value, although potentially a large investment, can be worthwhile in the long run.

Kellen Greenberg is a consultant with Systemscope’s Strategic Business Consulting practice. He can be reached at greenberg@systemscope.com.
Linda Lee is a consultant with Systemscope’s Information Management practice. She can be reached at lee@systemscope.com.


Linda Lee is a bilingual information management professional with a Masters degree in Library and Information. She has been providing consulting expertise to federal government IM managers and is adept at planning and providing project management of IM resources and IM projects. She has thorough knowledge of the GC IM Strategy, the TBS Policy on IM and other IM policy instruments. As a trained librarian, Linda has more than ten years of practical experience with Government of Canada clients in the areas of information management, information technology, records management, and library services consulting. She has been involved in projects specific to IM awareness and training, IM policies and guidelines, performance measurement, and information architecture. Linda is a consummate professional who diligently works to keep on the leading edge of her field so that her clients are always provided with an optimal practical solution. Her ability to liaise between technical staff and non-technical users of information systems has made her highly sought after in a wide range of consulting and client support requirements.


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