Measuring records governance

Policy Requirement 2 tells agencies to measure how well records governance is supporting their business imperatives and strategic goals.

When we released the Records Governance Policy for consultation in 2018, the feedback we received about this element was mostly in the form of questions: Would QSA say what measures they should use? Where would the measures come from? If they had to decide them, how should they do that? What made a measure good or bad?

At the time, we told people that QSA would not be telling agencies what measures or metrics to use. After all, every agency has different business imperatives and strategic goals and the only people who could come up with the best way to measure their achievement would be the ones who knew those imperatives and goals intimately.

Today, we thought we’d talk more about this part of Policy Requirement 2 and how you might implement it.

What this element comes down to is knowing whether your records governance is doing what it’s supposed to.

Recordkeeping metrics are the metrics of your agency. Keeping records of all your activities means you know intimately what your agency is doing. And if you know what it’s doing, you can figure out how to improve things.

To identify what metrics and measures you should keep, consider what your records governance is trying to achieve. Sure, it wants to support your agency’s work but how does it intend to do that? What is your records governance doing to make work easier, quicker or more effective for the agency?

What could your agency do if it had information on a particular area or activity? What could your agency anticipate if it knew what had happened previously? What could it save if it knew which programs and strategies were working and which weren’t?

Choosing your metrics

When choosing what metrics to track, you should think about:

  • Whether you’re measuring a program (ongoing) or a project (defined period)?
  • Is your goal something objectively or subjectively measurable?
  • How will the metric be captured (automatic vs manual data capture)?
  • Will the measure shed light on the past (how you’re going) or the future (what’s coming up)?

Metrics may measure things directly or indirectly. An indirect metric measure is something caused by the thing you actually want to know. It’s not as ideal as direct metrics as they often involve assumptions that can be incorrect or change. They can also be affected by external forces that can affect their reliability.

Whether a direct or indirect metric is best for you will depend on what you are able to measure with the resources you have.

Let’s look at an example

Imagine if QSA’s own strategic plan had a goal to increase the amount of services we offer to government agencies…

What we want to know is whether our records governance supports that goal.

Recordkeeping metrics that can help us to know if we’re achieving our goal this include:

  • the number and type of records that are being created
  • the number and type of records that are being accessed.

What our metrics can tell us will depend on what processes we use to deliver our services.

Say, for example, that our process required that every time we got an email enquiry from an agency that we saved our response in a specific location. If this is the case, we can tell how many enquiries we’ve had in a given time period by looking at the number of records in that location. The higher the number of records, the more interactions, the more services we’ve delivered.

Therefore, the recordkeeping metric (number of records of interactions) helps us to determine if we’ve increased the amount of services we’ve delivered and therefore whether we’re meeting our strategic goal.

If the numbers aren’t increasing (or are decreasing) we know that we need to change what we’re doing. If the numbers rise and fall we know that something is affecting the number of enquiries we get – if we can identify this, we can influence it or adapt to it.

This metric gives us some information on certain parts of our records governance – the processes involved, how those processes are carried out and the application or system we use to store the records and how we use them.

On its own, it doesn’t tell us which parts are working well or could be improved. That’s why it’s important not to rely solely on one measure to inform your decision-making. The more data and information you have, the better you’ll be able to see the patterns and connections and use them to your advantage.

This is also an example of how we can use records we were already creating to provide a business insight – to measure how well your records governance is going, you don’t necessarily need to add any steps into your business process.

Optimising government recordkeeping services

For the purposes of this blog, let’s say the purpose behind our optimisation goal is to improve service delivery, we want more satisfied clients.

There are many different aspects that go into a good customer experience and one of them is the amount of time taken to deliver a service.

We can use recordkeeping metrics to tell us if we are achieving our goal of providing satisfactory service delivery.

For example, following on from above, if our process required that we save the initial email enquiry and the email response into specific locations, we could tell how long it took to answer an enquiry from the time of creation of both records. If, as part of our business plan, we determined that we wanted to answer all email enquiries within 5-10 business days, we could use this metric to determine if we were meeting this goal.

Choosing this metric makes the most sense if we’re got something that makes it easy to identify the time of creation of a record (digital records are easiest to do this with) and it’ll be even easier if the application we use to keep these records can flag when we haven’t met our 5-10 day goal.

This metric alone probably won’t be enough to determine if we’ve improved our service delivery – after all, a quick response isn’t much good if it isn’t right – but it still provides useful information to help us know if we’re achieving what we want to achieve.

The description above is just one of the ways that you can meet the fourth element of Policy Requirement 2. Don’t forget, there’s no right way to reach that outcome – you need to do what works for you.

Want to know more about meeting Policy Requirement 2? Have a look at our blog post that unpacks it.

If you have suggestions for future blog posts or there’s something about the Records Governance Policy you’d still like answered, get in touch! Leave a comment below, contact us by email, telephone, blog, Twitter– we want to hear from you!

Government Recordkeeping


Featured image: P.G2 Stereo plotter. [Survey Office, Brisbane], April 1970 – Digital Image ID 25720

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