Sixth Annual Meeting of the
Corporate Archives Forum
June 26-27. 2003
The sixth annual meeting of the Corporate Archives
Forum was held June 26-27, 2003 in Wayzata, Minnesota.
Cargill Incorporated hosted the meeting. The following individuals were present:
Adkins, Ford Motor Company
Banducci, The Gap
Mimi Bowling, Random House
Bruce Bruemmer, Cargill
Kathleen Collins, Bank of America
Phil Mooney, Coca-Cola Company
Jane Nokes, Scotia Bank
Nicole Pelsinsky, Microsoft Corporation
Ed Rider, Procter & Gamble
Deborah Skaggs, Frank Russell Company
Becky Haglund Tousey, Kraft Foods
Paul Lasewicz of IBM Corporation and Leslie Simon of CIGNA
participated via teleconference. Greg
Hunter of Long Island University served as facilitator and note-taker.
To protect confidentiality, these meeting notes do
not attribute comments to any attendee or company.
The attendees are sharing these notes with the wider archival
community in the hopes of furthering the discussion of issues.
This year’s meeting included the following
Developing a Global Archives Proposal
Productivity in Archives
Archiving and Instant Messaging
Pros and Cons
Metadata for Electronic Records
Using E-Room Software for Archival Teams
Copyright and Talent Rights in Archival
Designing an Historical Facts Database
Benchmarking Business Archives
Business Process Mapping
Survey: Salaries and
for Next Year
Developing a Global Archives Proposal
One archivist has spent a great deal of time
developing a proposal to identify and manage archival records around the
globe. The steps that this
archivist followed were:
the Foundation. The
archives built upon its good reputation and track record.
The archivist tried to demonstrate the value that would be
added to the corporation by managing global archival records. A major anniversary also raised awareness of the need
for global archives.
of the Idea. The
idea originated during a meeting at which the archivist was not even
present. This was a “top
down” interest that led to the formation of a task force to
consider what a global archives program would look like.
Proposal. The task
force drafted a four page narrative report outlining a
data-gathering phase involving site visits to selected international
CEO ultimately approved and funded the plan for this data-gathering
for the Site Visits. The
site visits are intended to get the big picture, not to conduct a
detailed records survey. The
site visits will try to gather information about the following:
business needs, cultural and legal challenges, storage
locations, and ways to make records more useful to employees.
Recommendations will be formulated based on the findings and
presented to management.
Corporate archivists have discovered that
subsidiaries in some countries previously donated records to museums or
other private institutions. This
can be both a negative and a positive factor. In
some cases, the donations were not authorized and are causing access
problems. In other cases,
the donations have been a collaborative process involving true
partnering. The business archivist should not rule out such donations,
especially when records cannot be removed from the country of origin
because they are cultural artifacts.
One corporation has a goal of “enriching communities,” and
has encouraged the donation of records and artifacts of primarily local
There are several potential models for managing
- Centralize all records at headquarters
- Keep records decentralized but use the corporate archives to
- Leave international operations completely on their own
- Create a “virtual corporate archives” through the Web
Records do not have to be moved to the headquarters as long as the international activities
are linked to the corporate
Corporations are discovering different levels of
archival expertise around the globe.
In addition, all corporate archives programs are underfunded,
especially in terms of full-time staff.
For these reasons, each corporate archivist will have to
determine the best way to spread resources among core and satellite
Another corporation has begun its global planning
by reflecting on how the archives at headquarters began. The archives was established in Corporate Affairs, which had
a great deal of historical materials but was unable to answer reference
questions because the materials were unprocessed.
This archives also was linked to library staffs worldwide.
The business literature discusses the fact that the
United States has maintained its economic edge in the 1990s through
productivity gains. The
studies cite information/computer technology as a key factor – it has
changed business practices.
Where are the productivity gains in archives?
Has our use of information technology (Spindex, MARC, EAD, etc.)
increased archival productivity?
Productivity is defined as the ratio between input and output.
Input includes such factors as labor, capital, and knowledge.
Productivity increases can take two forms: new deliverables (such as “customer value”) or improved
Why should archivists even bother to think about
this? There are a number of
Bob Shuster wrote an article on processing
costs that showed how expensive archival work really is.
outsourcing firms claim that they are more efficient and
cost-effective than in-house archives.
Productivity can be a factor in employee
performance reviews and evaluations.
Knowing the costs of archival work can help
determine if a collection really is worth acquiring.
In general, archivists have done a poor job with
cost analysis. Studies
have shown that the rate for processing a cubic foot of archival
materials can vary from 1.04 to 25.2 hours.
Ultimately, archivists may not want to know the true costs of
Three of the attendees gave some advanced thought
to the topic of productivity in archives.
Their comments were:
series concept can be viewed as a productivity device.
The only example to increase productivity here was to
eliminate scope and content notes.
The computer has increased the front-end work of archivists.
In situations of fully mediated access (the archivist
conducting all research into the collection), EAD may not be worth
the cost of creation. Ultimately,
it is impossible to increase productivity without “metrics” –
measures of actual production.
Productivity does not happen in a vacuum.
For example, processing a collection more quickly may
actually increase the time required for reference work.
Increasing levels of description pays dividends in providing
We have to be wary of hurting our successors by
not investing in processing. We
need metrics to measure progress toward strategic goals that are
meaningful to management.
In some companies, the
philosophy is that “everyone should find his or her own information.”
This has led to the closing of corporate libraries.
The bottom line, however, is that employees don’t want to do
the research – they just want an answer.
Productivity gains in archives need to reflect this level of
Computer companies are
developing “federated databases” that will integrate different
databases. However, we
still will need people to
enter the data.
One company has the
originating departments doing some of the data entry on records they are
sending to the archives. This
also helps to make reference “self service” for the users.
In the old days,
archives had to work within the space
they were given; now we have to work within the information
system we are given.
We have to make
certain that our data are not too insular.
One company is thinking of a “shopping mall for information”
that would feature a common point for access.
We can sell database improvements more easily as an integrated
An archives database
will not answer questions;
rather, it tells someone where to
look for the answer. As
such, an archives database cannot be self-service.
Mark Greene and Dennis
Meissner have received a research grant to look at productivity issues.
Their hypothesis is that researchers will prefer medium-level
access to more collections rather than higher-level access to fewer
collections. They also will
be looking at the opportunity costs of resource-intensive processing.
CAF members agreed to be survey partners for the project.
Are there methods we
should be looking at to make processing more efficient?
But we still need
metrics for what we are doing. One
company does “phased processing,” where they share costs with
clients through charge-backs.
Another archivist has
developed a “Six Sigma project” on the cost to the corporation of
unprocessed collections. Six
Sigma is methodology developed at General Electric to apply statistical
measures to quality improvement projects.
E-Mail Archiving and Instant Messaging
In terms of context, the archivist giving the
presentation has been with the company for over 6 years, is part of the
legal department reporting to the general counsel, and is developing an
integrated archives and records management program.
From the start, e-mail has been of particular
interest to the company: Information
Technology (IT) retains backups for 10 days; employees were given no
training in managing e-mail; and e-mail presents a high compliance risk.
This archivist is doing “business process
mapping.” They will
identify the role of e-mail in the various processes.
Reports about the business processes and records issues are
issued by the Legal Department, giving them more clout.
The company’s Electronic Document Management
System (EDMS) does not automatically “check in” e-mail.
(They are using FileNet Panagon).
They have to check in each e-mail message manually.
Another company continues to print out e-mail messages as the
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
recently fined 5 firms a total of $8.25 million for failing to preserve
e-mail. At least one CAF
member’s corporation has asked the Gartner Group and other similar
firms to look at e-mail archiving.
It is important for the corporate archivist to talk
to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to clarify the definition of a
There are two related issues:
Files created in collaborative workgroup
software. Are there
records that need to be retained?
Decommissioned systems. Who will identify and preserve the records when the system
goes out of active use?
One archivist is working with Internal Audit to
make Information Technology aware of its responsibilities for records.
This archivist also works with the Risk Management Committee.
To have any impact, the archivist needs the “decision players”
on any committee for records management.
One company is looking at e-mail archiving systems.
They have narrowed the field to two application service providers
(ASPs): Iron Mountain and
Zantaz. The latter has
acquired I-Witness Software, designed to satisfy records principles and
to serve as a compliant electronic recordkeeping system.
Instant Messaging is likely to be the next area of
interest and litigation. Instant
messages are not normally retained when used as an add-on to
subscription Internet services, even in highly regulated environments.
In one corporation, the legal department has forbidden the use of
instant messaging. Another
corporation has outsourced the capture of instant messages to an ASP
called Omnipod. It
satisfies regulatory requirements for registered broker-dealers,
however, the broker-dealer must be aware of stipulating these condition
in their contract with the ASP.
Outsourcing Pros and Cons
In a 1997 article in the American
Archivist, Ellen Gartrell outlined seven options for structuring a
archives. Everything is discarded or warehoused when it becomes
files” saved. This
usually is a small amount retained in a corporate library.
corporate archives. Full
service archives accessible and proximate to corporate users.
corporate archives. A
completely commercially-managed archives.
maintained in outside repository with continued company ownership
and various levels of company control.
This is an ongoing, professional relationship.
given to outside repository.
There is a cooperative, ongoing relationship but no company
donated as one-time gift to outside repository.
There is no ongoing relationship or control.
Individuals at high enough levels within
corporations seem to be able to do almost whatever they want, including
donating corporate historical records to outside repositories.
Outsourcing can be positive: it may save a collection from destruction.
Archives get outsourced because the archives cannot
provide good return on investment for the company.
You have to find a way to measure the difference your program
makes. “Soft” arguments
(“the value of history”) may work once or twice, but not forever.
Successful corporate archives programs have had
strong, long-term leadership. What
will happen when these long-time archivists leave?
It is important to think about succession management.
In some companies, succession planning is part of the performance
What should we be looking for in a successor?
Not just technical archival skills, but the ability to think
strategically, make effective presentations, and manage successfully.
One question was whether you should take people displaced from
elsewhere within the corporation. Attendees
reported both positive and negative experiences with this.
At the moment, the larger political environment in
corporations is toward outsourcing.
Maybe we just have to accept that this is a cyclical matter –
in a downturn, everything gets reduced.
The “quarterly thinking approach” is the real danger.
One corporate archives was reviewed by the internal
auditors. During this
process, the auditors spoke to the clients of the archives.
The clients spoke very positively about the archives and its
In another corporation, it has been a plus to bring
archives and records management together.
The corporate attorneys have a deep stake in seeing that the
program succeeds. The
lawyers also don’t want to have outside people managing a confidential
function like archives.
In the post-Enron climate, continuity and memory
are becoming increasingly important.
Are there specific functions or activities than an
archives can outsource? Some
possibilities are: scanning,
exhibit design, and other projects with no long-term accumulation of
Electronic records will probably be an undesirable
area to outsource. In many
corporations, however, significant parts of the IT function already are
being outsourced. It
will be important to establish a dialogue with the IT person responsible
Fear of unauthorized access to company or customer
information can be a selling point for retaining an archives in-house:
loss of control over proprietary and strategic information,
customer privacy violations, outside access to trade secrets, etc.
We should document “horror stories” involving outsourced
One archivist has outsourced processing on an
annual renewable contract. This
has worked out well. Someone
else pointed out, however, that processing also has a strong appraisal
component. This can
make it difficult to outsource processing.
In another corporation, everything has to be
structured as a “project,” including processing.
They have to develop specific guidelines for processing and
conduct any appraisal up-front. The
contractors also have to be provided with the taxonomy for description.
The key is that processing is “project managed” – in the
past, processing was a never-ending process.
Metadata for Electronic Records
One corporate archives and records management
program with the authority to issue standards is developing a uniform
metadata standard. They see
certain advantages of a metadata standard:
Consistent management of electronic records
Coordinated searches across repositories
They began by researching international standards
as well as metadata sets already in use within the corporation. They then analyzed potential fields by using index cards to
sort and compile the information.
Though the full standard is not yet ready, the
archives has prepared a metadata dictionary specifying two types of
Required metadata. This must be included in all applications.
Supplemental metadata. While this also is required, it only is required for certain
subsets of applications
Since both types of metadata are required, it was
suggested that the categories be called “global” and “functional,”
or something similar.
Some of the key questions and issues that have
arisen during this process are:
How do you identify “owners” of some
controlled vocabulary fields?
How do you check the validity of the data
How do you apply the standard to structured
information (databases, etc.)?
Will the standard only apply to new systems or
will it extend to existing ones?
How will exemptions to the standard be granted?
(There are bound to be some exemptions.)
Where will the metadata be stored?
Will it be with the records or separate?
How will the standard apply to e-mail?
(At the moment, it cannot be applied to e-mail in Outlook.)
What will happen with records on shared drives?
(The standard cannot be applied at the present time.
The archives anticipates that there will be about
35 metadata fields, with most being system-generated. Each field in the metadata dictionary will be described as
Label name of the field that appears on the application
Description field use.
Rationale for collecting the information.
Required/Supplemental. General category of metadata.
Is the field Text, Numeric, Date, or Boolean?
Repeatable Field. Can the field have more than one data value?
Is a predictable or repeatable data value appropriate?
If yes, what is it?
Rules. Is filling the field mandatory by the user?
Field. Can this field be edited by the user or is the data static
Where does the data come from:
system or user?
Controlled Vocabulary. Is there an authoritative list of data values?
Controlled Vocabulary Owner.
Who is responsible for maintaining the list?
Is the metadata content, structure, or context?
Any additional information about the use or implementation of
How the field is populated.
Another corporation is using Stellant for content
management. The archives is
inheriting records with different metadata sets.
The archives is going to have to determine if they will
re-catalog the records. Also,
will they add all of the user metadata to the archives, even if the
metadata goes beyond the archives’ requirements?
Using Collaborative Workgroup Software for Archival Teams
There is a category of software designed for “e-groups,”
teams that need to collaborate across distances. One archives is using this software for its staff.
The archives decided to implement the software for
the following reasons:
geographically dispersed staff needs to function as a team.
The size of the collection and needs of the
internal customer base put a great deal of pressure on standard
arrangement and description methods – they are not granular
No one person is familiar with the entire
collection, yet the Archives Team needs to connect disparate points
from across the collection in order to answer reference questions
efficiently and to pump content to the Web site.
Might this be the best way to standardize
policies and procedures across repositories when documenting a
The e-group software does the following:
shares and organizes content at a more granular level than
traditional archival practice.
Communications are organized in threaded discussions.
It reduces e-mail clutter and everything is
presented in a consistent manner to the Archives Team.
manages the team’s knowledge.
The system works because the archives uses
pre-defined categories for the threaded discussions, such as: reference, anecdotes, Web ideas, and policies and procedures.
The titles of the postings must use the archives’ subject
hierarchy as found in the collection management system.
While the staff can search by key word, most times they do it by
The main obstacle is not the technology, but the
people. This has been the
experience with much of knowledge management.
A great deal of work is front-loaded.
Using the pre-defined taxonomy was a key to success.
Copyright and Talent Rights in Archival Collections
One corporation has been digitizing television
advertisements. Since 2001,
over 8,000 ads have been restored, cataloged, digitized, and donated to
an archival repository. The
tax deduction for the donation already exceeds $3.6 million.
For the digitizing, they are using MPEG2 format.
The combination of digitizing and donation has
saved a great deal of storage space.
The corporation was paying $300,000-500,000 per year to store the
television ads. They also
have taken a passive asset and turned it into an active one.
Once they are finished with U.S. ads, they will turn to
Each ad has a metadata page that includes “talent
rights.” This extends
beyond copyright to include various actors and musicians who worked on
the ads. Before an ad can
be reused for any purpose, it is necessary to determine if the talent
have any residual rights requiring compensation.
As the archives acquires a new ad, they capture
information on talent rights from the production materials (contracts,
correspondence, etc.) Much
of this material remains in the hands of advertising agencies.
In the past, this corporation (as with many others)
did not have a process for handling talent records.
The contracts with advertising agencies did not deal with the
ownership of the talent records. As
a result, the agencies considered these records to be proprietary and
did not release them to the client’s archives.
This year, the archives was able to insert wording
into the master contracts with advertising agencies dealing with talent
records and the storage of production materials related to advertising.
The new contract makes clear that talent records
and production materials are the client’s property. Advertising agencies are required to transfer creative
materials to the client archives after two years.
Termination of an agency contract triggers immediate transfer.
Of particular importance is the archives’ ability
to enforce this transfer. Failure
to comply will result in the forfeiture of 25% of the agency’s fees.
Some of the key results of the project to date are:
is on-line and accessible for people who need to clear talent
Key assets are protected from inadvertent
destruction or “casual records management.”
Vital information is maintained and
16 commercials are totally rights-free.
Another 160 commercials have been identified as
having some level of talent buy-out.
The archives has compiled very specific
information on pay scales for individual talent.
Designing an Historical Facts Database
One archives is developing a database of
ready-reference historical facts. They
want the database to be
- Robust in capacity and design-potential
- Able to grow
- Accessible through a user-friendly interface on the company
- Easy to migrate data from
- Based upon a software product likely to be supported for twenty
The archives ultimately decided on Oracle rather
than a SQL database.
This corporation has a complex “family tree.”
Because of various mergers, there are over 2,000 corporate
entities whose facts will be in this database.
The archives takes a hierarchical approach, relating the
corporate entities to the last major merger partner.
To keep the database from getting unwieldy,
searches usually involve a subset differentiated by country or state. Some other fields are:
- Corporate entity name
- Last/major merger partner
- Corporate name/subsidiary name
- Biographical name
- Subject (each “ merger family” can have its own subjects)
- Note fields (for the fact statement, extended stories,or short
- Source of the fact. Each
fact must be documented. At
the moment, the corporation is maintaining a file of photocopies
supporting each fact.
The archives has experienced a number of challenges
in the two years it has been developing the database:
- The archives should be entitled to good support from Information
Technology, but does not always receive it.
The biggest problem has been IT project staff turnover.
- Populating the database is labor-intensive, but it only needs to
be done once.
- The archivist has been burned in the past by not being able to
migrate data. This
remains a concern with the current project.
- Backup of data must have built-in redundancy, so IT needs to treat
this project with the same seriousness about backup as it treats
customer transaction data.
- It is difficult to establish consistency in the choice of “facts.”
What is significant and
what is not? Some facts
are nebulous – they are not specific enough to document.
- Subject indexing and analysis require a familiarity with all of
the corporate entities and with the nature of our research requests
to get it right. At the
moment, they are not using a taxonomy (hierarchical relationships)
but are instead developing a “flat” hierarchy.
- The database needs geographical balance and balance among
corporate families. This
can be difficult because the archives knows less about some of the
recently merged corporate families.
Authorizing Policy Statements
The group had a brief discussion of authorizing
policy statements. Most of
the archives have an authorizing policy statement though they take
various forms. Greg offered
to receive such statements, make them anonymous, and re-post them on the
One of the main questions was: How do you enforce the authorizing policy?
Should the archives rely or personal relationships or should the
archivist go “over the head” of a non-complying department head or
executive? Compliance can
be especially tricky in a corporation trying to merge cultures as well
It was noted that the archivist may be able to use
the Legal Department, especially if the recordkeeping issue involves a
violation of the corporate “code of business conduct,” which
organizations are taking very seriously in the post-Enron climate.
Benchmarking Business Archives
This year one archives was subjected to a thorough
program review by in internal consulting and auditing group. In an era of shrinking corporate resources, it is not a “given”
that a department will continue in existence after such a review.
The auditors interviewed the business partners
(internal clients) of the archives.
These partners gave the archives a 95% approval rating, which was
The auditors also decided to benchmark the archives
against other corporations. The
auditors selected two other corporate archives for comparison. While the benchmarking proved favorable, it was just as much
“luck of the draw” – the auditors picked corporations they knew
from other relationships, not necessarily the best archival comparisons.
Each month, this corporation measures itself
against its past and against its competitors.
Can the archives do the same?
In particular, how can we better explain to senior management
what they can expect from an archival program?
This experience led the archivist to think that
there needs to be a more systematic benchmarking of corporate archives,
even though the CAF serves this purpose informally.
Other attendees pointed out that the positive
internal audit review was far from luck.
The corporate archivist has managed the program well and laid the
groundwork for a successful review.
Attendees brainstormed on different ways to
categorize corporate archives for benchmarking purposes.
Among the suggestions were:
Family component or involvement
for records management
The Society of American Archivists has submitted a
grant proposal for a survey of the “state of the profession.”
CAF members may have an opportunity to influence questions on the
The archivist who recently was audited will try to
get permission to distribute the benchmarking questionnaire used by the
Greg briefly discussed an idea for a benchmarking
study that he presented at a previous CAF meeting.
Greg will revise the proposal and circulate it to the CAF
Business Process Mapping
One archivist, who also is responsible for records
management, has done a great deal of “business process mapping,”
decomposed to the records level in the last couple of years.
BPM involves analyzing business processes and presenting them in
graphical form to aid in identifying records created during a particular
Identifying work processes is not a new concept for
archivists. Even T.R.
Schellenberg discussed it in his writings.
This archivist has two business analysts on the
staff. They use Visio to
create the business process maps. The
presenter showed sample process maps from the purchasing function. It took the two staff members two months to complete the
mapping of this process and to complete records surveys.
The maps include what they call “swim lane
diagrams” to identify the actors in the process, such as:
The business process maps have gotten the attention
of executive management. This
methodology is consistent with Six Sigma, which was discussed
The BPM process is not intended to reengineer the
business, though someone could use the maps as a starting point for
The archives also conducts a separate survey of
records, which they compare to the process map.
The combined approach is very good at identifying all records.
As a result of this process, the archives knows
more about the detail of company operations than almost anybody. In the future, they want to look at the highest risk areas of
the company and map those processes.
They hope to move toward functional appraisal based
upon an understanding of the business processes.
Functional appraisal is being used in some government archives.
It works as follows:
Conduct a functional analysis of the government
(administering, licensing, etc.)
each function (such as licensing), describe the records together and
schedule them together.
Set retention periods for the activity,
rather than the record type.
Retention is governed by a “disposition authority”
rather than a retention schedule.
Place the detailed records management
responsibility with the agency.
Require agencies to submit annual reports to
the Public Records Commission, which by law has final records
Conduct record audits.
Such an approach works very well if the archives
believes that its purpose for existence is to identify archival records.
The functional approach minimizes attention to non-permanent
Informal Survey: Salaries
and Staff Sizes
The CAF attendees took the opportunity to benchmark
a number of factors:
Principal assistant’s salary
Bonus (largest bonus in the last few years)
Size of collection (cubic feet)
temporary workers or contractors
Information was given anonymously to Greg, who
compiled the following totals:
9 yes, 2 no
Stock options received:
8 yes, 3 no
Principal assistant’s salary
Size of collection (cu. ft.)
Temporary workers or contractors
Ideas for Next Year
During the course of the two days, the following
topics were suggested for next year:
Exhibits and promotional materials.
Sharing costs with clients. Getting others to fund dedicated staff within the archives.
Compliance and archives (using the compliance
process to benefit archives).
Oral history projects
CAF members also identified some potential topics for SAA
Business process mapping
Productivity in archives
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Updated September 21, 2003