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 . 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 .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 .
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
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 . 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 .
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
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 
Since 2009 the Umoja project has been implemented in three main phases namely: Foundation,
Extension 1 and Extension 2 .
• 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 .
Figure 2: Umoja Foundation Processes
• Extension 1 included functions such as workforce management, organizational management,
travel management, time management, and payroll as illustrated in Figure 3 .
Figure 3: Umoja Extension 1 Processes
• 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 
Figure 4: Umoja Extension 2 Processes
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 . 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 .
One of the tenets of recordkeeping is identifying the functional areas and business activities to
develop appropriate business classification or filing systems . 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
Figure 5: Onboarding new staff and movement of current staff
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
. Therefore, record capture and classification needs to meet the volume of transactions .
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 .
Figure 6: Records management reference application scenarios
a) The first scenario is when a business application already has records management
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].
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  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 . In inventory management
with ERP systems, machine learning algorithms are used to recognize images that are then
automatically categorized in the product catalogues . 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 . 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 , AI use cases  or computational approaches to AI
. 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  and the draft standard for records management capability assessment .
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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