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Managing records in enterprise-wide systems and some artificial intelligence considerations

Managing records in enterprise-wide systems and some artificial intelligence
Dr. S Katuu1
In an increasingly complex work environment, many organizations are implementing enterprise-wide
systems that integrate business processes in order to improve efficiency in real-time. ERP systems,
some the most ubiquitous enterprise-wide systems, are based on an integrated database that
provides functional modules such as accounting, sales and order management, customer
relationship management, financial reporting and human resources management [1]. In 2019,
Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, stated that ERP systems were one of the largest
categories of enterprise software spending forecasting that they would have a compound annual
growth rate of 7.1 percent from 2018 to 2022 [2].While not all global institutions have implemented
ERPs, there are certainly a significant number, particularly those that have need to tackle the core
tasks of managing and integrating business processes in real-time [3].
According to Panorama Consulting, a software advisory group, the top 10 ERP systems in 2022
globally include very well-known companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP as illustrated in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Top 10 ERP systems
1 The views expressed herein are mine and should not be attributed to any of my previous employers
Source: [4]
The objective of this presentation is to provide some perspectives to the challenges and
opportunities that exist in managing records within enterprise-wide systems such as ERPs.
ERP’s dominant role within institutions
Discussions on ERP systems or platforms have been ongoing for several decades, increasing in the
1990s with a considerable number of global institutions having implemented them [5, 6]. In 2012,
the United Nations (UN) Joint Inspection Unit published a review of ERP implementation, use, and
maintenance in 28 UN entities [7]. The majority of the 28 entities had either implemented Oracle,
PeopleSoft, or SAP, the dominant software vendors in the market [7, 8]. For the UN entities, ERP
implementation added value in four ways:
streamlining and integrating business processes,
improving information management and reporting,
making gains in efficiency, and
creating built-in internal controls [7].
In July 2006 the nations of the world approved UN General Assembly resolution to initiate an ERP
implementation, christened Umoja, within the UN Secretariat. In December 2008 the nations
approved another UN General Assembly resolution for Umoja’s governance framework and initial
funding [9].
Recordkeeping challenges
For record professionals, ERPs are not just simply a new type of business system where records must
be identified and effectively managed, they are also becoming a dominant business system with an
enterprise-wide reach. Therefore, the recordkeeping challenge is multi-layered.
On the outset ERPs are often expansive, integrating vast aspects of institutional processes. For
instance, the scope of Umoja’s implementation by the UN was structured into 321 processes
covering six broad functions namely:
a) strategic planning, budget formulation and performance management;
b) fundraising and donor relationship management;
c) implementing partner management;
d) supply chain management;
e) uniformed capabilities management; and
f) conference and event management [10]
Since 2009 the Umoja project has been implemented in three main phases namely: Foundation,
Extension 1 and Extension 2 [9].
Foundation phase included functions such as central support services, finance and budget,
procurement and supplier relationship management, as well as project management as
illustrated in Figure 2 [11].
Figure 2: Umoja Foundation Processes
Source: [11]
Extension 1 included functions such as workforce management, organizational management,
travel management, time management, and payroll as illustrated in Figure 3 [12].
Figure 3: Umoja Extension 1 Processes
Source: [12]
Extension 2 included functions such as fundraising, supply chain management, conference and
events management, as well as strategic planning, budgeting, and performance management as
illustrated in Figure 4 [13]
Figure 4: Umoja Extension 2 Processes
Source: [13]
The three illustrations demonstrate how extensively Umoja’s implementation streamlined and
harmonized business functions and processes. This has been undertaken at great cost. By October
2020 the project expenditure through the three implementation phases was over 565 million US
Dollars [9]. The UN Secretary General estimates that Umoja’s total cost of ownership (including
training and maintenance costs) would be over 1.5 Billion US Dollars by 2030 [14].
One of the tenets of recordkeeping is identifying the functional areas and business activities to
develop appropriate business classification or filing systems [1]. However, as Figures 2, 3 and 4
illustrate the functional areas and business processes in Umoja’s three phases even at this broad
level, are multifarious. And to think that each of these further broken down to more than 320
business processes each of which conducts thousands of activities simultaneously across the world
further compounds the challenge. For instance, Figure 5 illustrates the end-to-end mapping of the
onboarding of new staff with all the major activities that entails as part of the workforce
management function.
Figure 5: Onboarding new staff and movement of current staff
Source: [15]
The record professional that must develop a business classification system and concomitant
retention schedules for these kinds of processes has complex considerations to make.
Another tenet of recordkeeping is identifying and appropriately capturing records. In the analogue
environment there have been elaborate procedures for these processes. In the digital environment
such as one where ERPs function, the sheer number of transactions taking place is enormous. For
instance, between July 2013 and May 2017 the UN Secretariat reported that Umoja’s payroll process
covered over 40,000 staff members in over 150 countries and entailed 480,000 pay slips annually
[16]. Therefore, record capture and classification needs to meet the volume of transactions [17].
Recordkeeping responses
Record professionals have responded to these recordkeeping challenges in business systems such as
ERPs using several strategies. One is to use good practice standards such as those by the
International Standards Organization (ISO). For instance, the ISO 16175 standard on processes and
functional requirements for managing records provides guidance stating there are at least three
possible scenarios to manage records in business systems as illustrated in Figure 6 [18].
Figure 6: Records management reference application scenarios
Source: [18]
a) The first scenario is when a business application already has records management
capabilities internally.
b) The second scenario is when a business application has a records management application
component as a separate specialized sub-system.
c) The third scenario is when a business application uses records management services (RMS)
that are autonomous from a separate application.
Between the mid-2000s to the mid-2010s, older iterations of ERP systems had either scenario one or
two records management capabilities, but this is now less common [19-21]. More common is the
third scenario where ERPs integrate with autonomous records management services (RMS) from
outside the system. These include applications by companies such as AvePoint, Collabware, Gimmal,
Hyland, OpenText, and RecordPoint [22-24].
Concluding remarks
Considering the sheer number of functions, processes, and activities taking place within ERPs, it is
not surprising to find these systems utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) techniques. In 2019, Basl and
Novakova [25] conducted research amongst ERP system vendors. They found that many ERP systems
utilised AI techniques in predictive inventory management, decision support, as well as data
processing and analysis. Another common AI use case is conversational AI platforms that include
virtual assistants and chatbots, as well as predictive analytics models [26]. In inventory management
with ERP systems, machine learning algorithms are used to recognize images that are then
automatically categorized in the product catalogues [27]. In addition, ERPs that require intelligence
process mining and discovery tools are utilizing neural network techniques to analyze dynamic case
management and forecast timing and process outcomes [28, 29].
As ERPs are increasingly using AI techniques, the companies providing autonomous RMS are also
increasingly utilizing AI techniques to support recordkeeping. For instance, Collabware utilizes AI
techniques to process data, index continually and search its data lake, that is a repository for
managing content [30, 31]. Another company, Nuxeo, utilizes machine learning techniques to
undertake automated extraction, enrichment, classification, and indexing of information from
standard documents, images, and videos [32]. However, recordkeeping challenges still exist,
including development of comprehensive business taxonomies or file plans for business processes
that are both changing dynamically as well as proliferating across vast institutions. The related
activity of managing retention and disposal of records within these ERPs, even when using
recordkeeping applications, is incredibly complicated. Additionally, there are requirements for the
identification of either classified/sensitive information or personally identifiable information that
may be within ERPs or other enterprise-wide systems.
For this reason, record professionals need to be adequately equipped with the theoretical and
methodological tools to be able to address these challenges. This is not only through education
programmes but also through active engagement in research, such as in InterPARES Trust AI [33-38].
Outcomes of the research process should include contributions to laws, regulations as well as
national and international good practice standards [39-41]. Record professionals could contribute to
standards related to AI trustworthiness [42], AI use cases [43] or computational approaches to AI
[44]. However, even more critical, are contributions to records related standards [41, 45]. Currently,
there are two critical standards in development, i.e. managing records in structured data
environments [46] and the draft standard for records management capability assessment [47].
The objective of this presentation was to provide some perspectives to the challenges and
opportunities that exist in managing records within enterprise-wide systems such as ERPs. These
include the development of business classification or filing systems as well as the identification and
capture of records. ERPs are utilizing third party RMS applications to fulfil recordkeeping
requirements. Both ERPs and RMS applications are increasingly utilizing AI to enhance the value they
bring to institutions. The onus is on record professionals to not only be aware of these developments
but also actively contribute their expertise.
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... • records within artificial intelligence and machine learning environments [66], [67] • managing records that have information sensitivity and/or security classification requirements [68], [69] 1. ...
... The UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and International Labour Organization (ILO) are using blockchain-based systems in some of their internal processes, including the management and verification of documents (Dumitriu, 2020). There is the potential to incorporate blockchain innovation in other internal enterprise level systems; however, this will require different sets of expertise and an enterprise approach (Dumitriu, 2020;Katuu, 2021bKatuu, , 2022. ...
Purpose The United Nations (UN) is globally acknowledged for its unique role as a convening platform to address humanitarian, peace, security and sustainable development challenges. However, it is not often associated with technological innovation. Blockchain technology, an innovation that emerged in the late 2000s, has generated animated discussions that are led, in the most part, by private sector institutions. A dearth of literature highlights the innovative blockchain projects supported by UN entities. The purpose of this study is to provide an overview of blockchain innovations supported by UN entities and explore opportunities for future studies. Design/methodology/approach This paper used an exploratory case study approach with the purpose of providing a broad perspective of blockchain innovations undertaken by UN entities in the quest to meet sustainable and equitable development across the world. Findings This study found 25 blockchain projects by 13 UN entities in 19 countries. The geographical spread of the case studies revealed that two studies have global jurisdiction, five studies in Africa, three in Europe, four in Latin America and the Caribbean and 11 in Asia, Oceania and the Middle East. Of the 19 countries, three had two projects each. Two countries had three projects and the rest had one project each. Of the 13 UN entities, three dominated with UNICEF (part of six projects), UNDP (part of 10 projects) and WFP (part of four projects). Finally, the 25 projects were divided among three categories of blockchain use cases, as defined by UN guidance documents. Five case studies focused on immutable record keeping, five on transfer of value and 15 on smart contracts. Originality/value This study offers a unique overview of blockchain efforts within UN entities. It provides a platform for future studies to reveal implicit assumptions, contrasting explanations and casual connections.
... Professionals are expected to manage both analogue documentary formats as well as records of digital age with all their emerging challenges. These include the long-term preservation of trustworthy records in the face of complex legal issues and technological innovations such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain and complex enterprise-wide systems (Duranti and Rogers, 2019;Hofman and Katuu, 2022;Katuu, 2018Katuu, , 2019Katuu, , 2021Katuu, , 2022bKatuu and Ngoepe, 2015;Léveillé, 2015;Montgomery, 2015). ...
Purpose: The advancement of a profession depends on factors such as firm education, training programmes and vibrant professional associations. The purpose of this study is to provide baseline information on archives and records management (ARM) professionals from Africa, including their views on education and training programmes. Related studies have been limited to investigating the experiences of graduates from a few institutions within a limited jurisdiction. Similar studies have not been conducted by African-based ARM associations. Design/methodology/approach: This study’s survey approach was administered electronically. Two surveys explored themes through 10 research questions in three categories: background information; characteristics of the education; and types of courses and extent covered during the study. Findings: The two surveys had 107 and 179 respondents, respectively, domiciled in 19 African countries. In both studies, about 75% of the respondents had an undergraduate- or master-level qualification. Between 69% and 87% of the respondents from the first and second surveys, respectively, had completed their educational programmes within their home countries. There was varied sentiment on the types of courses and level of coverage within their studies. Legal and technology aspects were less covered in the curriculum than core subjects. Originality/value: To the best of the author’s knowledge, this study is the first with findings from ARM respondents across several African countries. It provides insight into the demographics and educational programmes. This study’s unique contribution provides baseline data for more detailed and nuanced studies that will explore data and investigate patterns within and among individual countries on the continent.
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This presentation provides an overview of a study that explored components of archives and records management training in Africa.
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This article provides a brief discussion of ERPs, including how they can be defined, their component parts, and the evolution of technologies since the 1940s. The article then offers a general overview of the current ERP vendor market landscape based on academic journals and industry reports. The article’s methodological approach is a review of both academic literature and industry expert reports, which the author performed to trace trends within the landscape. Results of the analysis demonstrate that the rapidly evolving market landscape dates back at least six decades, and there are many large, longstanding ERP vendors. Yet, opportunities like cloud computing may result in niche products in existing industry players or through start-ups. Nonetheless, technologies such as blockchain are emerging. It remains to be seen how they will impact the ERP market.
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The purpose of this article is to provide a broad overview of the history and development of ERPs and outline recent developments with the advent of digital innovations like cloud computing. The research approach in this article was to review literature from both academic journals and industry reports. The article found that ERPs have changed dramatically from precursor systems like integrated control (IC) packages and material resource planning (MRP) systems. They continue to change with the advent of cloud computing, as well as digital innovations like artificial intelligence. While several articles have addressed the evolution of ERPs, this article’s unique contribution is that it covers the most recent developments, including discussions on cloud ERPs and postmodern ERPs.
Since the emergence of postcolonialism, there has been a call for epistemic decolonisation in the African scientific community. Paradigmatic backgrounds are key to defining belief systems that guide research investigations – not only in choice of approach, but also in the contextualisation and execution of research designs. Researchers’ limited understanding of these philosophical backgrounds and the way in which they can transcend towards decolonised research, inhibits researchers’ exploration of the deeper meaning of and commitment to research in the postcolonial context. This paper aims at contextualising the decolonisation of Eurocentric paradigms towards the transcendence of a new worldview that is relevant and unique to the African context. This is done through the analysis of two research methodology modules in Archival Science at an open distance e-learning institution. The genesis of postcolonial research, which lies in replacing dominant “truths” with marginalised “truths”, aims at rearticulating power, change and knowledge through a multiplicity of epistemologies, ontologies, and axiologies. By applying a postcolonial research paradigm, research can be used as a way of expanding knowledge and creating new knowledge as a starting point of epistemic decolonisation. This article contributes to the dismantling of the old order of research paradigms by exploring the transcendence of existing research paradigms and suggesting a research paradigm that provides a lens through which the postcolonial African scholar can conduct the search for truth in the field of Archival Science. However, it should be noted that, even in critical emancipation, there will still be elitism.
This chapter explores the growth and development of the archives and records management (ARM) profession in Africa, as well as some of the modern challenges the profession faces. The chapter demonstrates the impact of Africa’s colonial history on the immediate post-colonial developments within the ARM profession, particularly in the paths taken in education and training. The chapter explores a sample of the global engagement efforts by African professionals through the work of the International Records Management Trust as well as research carried through the InterPARES Research Project. The chapter discusses survey data from one of the InterPARES research studies and demonstrates complexities that ARM professionals continue to face in the continent.
The article reports the findings from research investigating the impact of international standards for records management. This is a significant issue for the recordkeeping community given the significant resourcing devoted to the development of international standards. Previous attempts to measure impact have met with little success, so this research approached the problem area from a new angle, namely the indirect influence of standards on practice via their use in education and training. Data was collected from a global survey of educators and trainers. Findings demonstrate that the standards are being used extensively at undergraduate and postgraduate level as well as in vocational training. However, a number of barriers to use are identified. The research provides a strong foundation for further investigation of impact and use of the international standards.
Trust has been defined in many ways, but at its core it involves acting without the knowledge needed to act. Trust in records depends on four types of knowledge about the creator or custodian of the records: reputation, past performance, competence, and the assurance of confidence in future performance. For over half a century society has been developing and adopting new computer technologies for business and communications in both the public and private realm. Frameworks for establishing trust have developed as technology has progressed. Today, individuals and organizations are increasingly saving and accessing records in cloud computing infrastructures, where we cannot assess our trust in records solely on the four types of knowledge used in the past. Drawing on research conducted at the University of British Columbia into the nature of digital records and their trustworthiness, this article presents the conceptual archival and digital forensic frameworks of trust in records and data, and explores the common law legal framework within which questions of trust in documentary evidence are being tested. Issues and challenges specific to cloud computing are introduced.