Disclaimer: Graphics contained within this document are of poor quality. For clearer graphics please see the PDF version.
This Legacy Business Records Planning Guide is part of a toolkit to help you manage a project to bring your Legacy Business Records under sound records management control. The toolkit consists of three guides and four templates.
The guides are:
The templates are:
Before you read this Planning Guide, you may wish to read the Legacy Business Records Project Overview. The Overview covers why legacy business records need to be addressed. It also has basic information about the toolkit.
This Planning Guide covers all the steps that could be done in order to deal with the records. The steps are shown in a workflow diagram. They are in the logical sequence for doing the project. Each step is described.
After you have completed the Plan, you should read the Costing Guide. The Costing Guide describes how you cost your plan. It also describes the three workbooks.
To keep things simple we have written the Guide as if at the beginning of the process you are the Records Manager (RM). When you, as the RM, get approval to start the project, we write as if you have been appointed as the Project Manager (PM).
The Legacy Business Records Project Plan is shown in two ways:
The flowchart shows the major steps in the plan. You can use it to check the general flow of the activities.
The descriptions cover all the steps. You can use them to get more information on each step.
This flowchart outlines the steps in the order in which they would be done. The working group had some Tips for shortcuts so as you follow along the workflow, you may want to read the step descriptions.
Read through the activity descriptions as you follow along the flow chart. Once you have finished reading it through, go through it step by step. Open the Costing worksheet, Roles and Responsibilities. This is an Excel spreadsheet. At each one, consider whether you will need to do that action.
If you need it, leave it in. If you do not need it, delete it.
The work breaks into five phases:
Initiating steps are shown in yellow on the flowchart. It starts from when you first become aware that there may be a problem. It ends when you get approval for a clean-up project.
Planning is shown in pink. It starts when you write the project's terms of reference. It ends when all the preparation has been done and the project team can get down to work.
Executing is in green. It covers the work to handle the records themselves. It ends when all the records have been disposed of appropriately.
Controlling is not shown on the flowchart but is described. It covers all the actions to manage the project while it is underway.
Closing starts when the project is signed off. It includes any evaluation or audit after the project has been completed. It has also not been flowcharted but is described.
Some steps in the description are highlighted in the colour for that phase. Those steps are included in the flowchart. Other steps are not highlighted. Some are high-level actions and all the smaller steps are on the flowchart. Others are lower level steps and are included in the descriptions.
Here is a summary of the whole process:
The following flowcharts show the basic process. There is a more detailed flowchart at the start of the description for each phase.
The following sections describe the work flow in more detail. You will notice that not all the steps in the process are on the flow chart. This is because the flowchart only shows the major activities.
The steps are numbered sequentially from 1 to 76. Because the detailed steps are not on the flowchart, it looks as if numbers are missing. The descriptions and the costing worksheets have all the detailed steps.
Reminder: The numbers on the flowchart start at #3. This is because only the major activities are shown on the flowchart. All the steps in Initiating the Project are described in this section.
The first step begins when you become aware that there is a problem with the management of the legacy business records. It ends when you get permission to put a project together.
It takes time and effort to put together a project proposal. You may want to get approval to spend that time. To do this, you need some basic information on the problem. In the next step, Activity 5, you begin to identify the information you need.
You may become aware of the problem just by knowing the status of the record holdings. For example, you are getting bills for records storage and you could not answer the questions, 'how many are we storing', 'where are they all' and 'what are they'.
It could also be brought to your attention. For example:
At the very least, you will need to have a basic understanding of the problem.
You will need at least a rough idea of how big the problem is. It is probably enough at this stage to estimate the number of linear feet of records in each location. You will need a count for each location where there are legacy business records. Later on you will need to add up how much you have in total. You should also know approximately how much it is costing to store the legacy business records.
As you continue with the project, the information will get more accurate.
This step you put together the rest of the information you will need. This would include what the project will do, how long it will take, and what it will cost.
You should also be able to describe the impact of both the problem and the solution. Cost is usually a major factor. You should have an idea of how much you can reduce the cost for storage. You could also provide anecdotes of how the current situation is affecting records users.
You need to have enough to describe the situation and why it is important to address the problem.
Usually the Director responsible for IM will approve the development of the proposal. Without this approval, you can go no further. This is a Go / No Go point for the project concept.
For a formal project approval, you will need a reasonably accurate estimate of the size. If, for example, you are looking at the storage for a branch's records, you could measure how many linear feet there are in each office, storage area and warehouse. You may not know the content of the records, but you should have a good idea of how many there are. You do need to have a good estimate of how many there are.
Risk answers the questions, "What would happen if we do nothing?" and "What would happen if we do A, B or C?"
You always look at the status quo, 'do nothing'. This helps you decide if you need to take any action. You usually base this assessment on the trend of what has been happening. "If this is what has been happening, this is what is likely to happen."
Your Risk Assessment of cleaning up the legacy business records should look at a more than just one option. The options could cover different amountsfrom 'do only a few of the records' to 'do all the records'.
In doing the Risk Assessment, you will want to consider various kinds of risks. There is always financial risk (what will it cost us?) but other risks are just as important:
Once you have answered these questions, you look at how likely it would be for the risk to actually happen (the probability). Finally, you decide how bad would it be (the severity) if the risk did occur.
Treasury Board has more information on risk management at www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/emf-cag/risk-risques/risk-risques_e.asp
The people who make the decision on whether or not to go ahead with the project must be able to tell if it is worth spending the time, effort and money. This information is put into a Business Case.
The Business Case will help them understand the costs and the benefits.
The costs may not be very accurate at this stage. There are a number of variables that could affect your costs. These could include:
The Costing Guide, section has more information on each of these variables and how they could affect the costs.
You have two choices in calculating the costs. Both are outlined in more detail in Section 9 of the Costing Guide.
The basic option is to use the average on-going costs for managing your institution's records. You calculate this cost from your on-going IM operations. You could use this cost if you believe that the legacy business records are similar to your institution's 'normal' records.
If you believe that the legacy business records are different in any way, first calculate the cost as if they were 'normal' records. You then vary that cost, up or down, as you look at how they are different. If, for example, all the records are administrative records covered by a MIDA and all are of the same type, the costs would be lower. The uniformity would make them easier and quicker to process.
If, on the other hand, the records are in several locations (dispersion) and you are using new staff (expertise), the average cost may be higher even if there is nothing unusual about the records. In the same way, if all the records are in one location and you are using experienced staff, the costs could be higher if the legacy business records are more complex than the average records.
When you look at the benefits, it may be useful to start by looking at the problems. If you do the project, how will it help to reduce or eliminate the concerns? You should consider not just how you will reduce costs but also what other problems you will solve.
A project Business Case always looks at what would happen if nothing is done. This is your 'base case'. It is used to compare the options. The question will be, "Is it better for us to do nothing or to do Option A, B or C?"
TB has a website with information on how to develop a Business Case for an information technology project. A lot of the information is very useful for developing any kind of Business case. You can read it at: www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/emf-cag/business-rentabilisation/ieg-gei/ieg-gei00_f.asp
You will usually present your request to the Director responsible for IM or the most senior committee overseeing the areas involved. It could be made to the person who will provide the money for the project. Who you go to depends on the size and the cost of the project. Often this same group will be the Project Steering Committee and they will sign off the project at the end. On the worksheets we have called this the 'Senior Executive Committee'. This may or may not be the correct title for that group in your institution.
One of the major tasks is assigning a Project Manager (PM).
To this point, we have written the document as if you are the RM. The rest is written as if you are the PM.
Reminder: The numbers on the flowchart start at #11. This is because only the major activities are shown on the flowchart. All the steps in Planning the Project are described in this section.
Because this is a fairly long list of activities, we have broken them into three pieces. These are the groups of activities to:
Once the project has been approved, you can start the planning phase. In this phase you put in place all the pieces that are needed to carry out the work.
Reminder: The numbers on the flowchart start at #11. This is because only the major activities are shown on the flowchart. All the steps in this part of the Planning Phase are described in this section.
The first step is to put the framework in place. This includes the:
Each of these is outlined below. Once these have been done, you will be ready to look at how you are going to do the work.
No matter how you write it up, you will need to document the project. This is a very important step. It helps you make sure that everyone understands what will and will not be done. It also helps to manage expectations. Without this step, you have no authority or accountability.
As a minimum, the document must say:
You can put this basic information into a Project Plan, Terms of Reference (ToR) or Project Charter.
Project Plans and Terms of Reference (ToR) usually have just these basics. They can be used for simple, quick, and limited projects.
If the project is big, expensive or visible, you will probably write a Project Charter. For information on a Project Charter go to:
You can find a template at
The guidelines for completing it are at:
You may want to add some of the following:
Project governance deals with who gets to make what decisions and who is accountable to whom. In smaller projects, you may not need a formal governance structure. In this case, you would likely report directly to the RM. If there is a records owner, you could report to both the RM and the owner.
Most departments have had several years of cutbacks in IM operations. Unless it is a small project, there will not be enough people to do the normal work and the project. This means getting additional help.
Often projects are carried out with a mix of full-time and part-time staff, and contractors. One of your biggest challenges may be getting the right people, with the right skills and at the right time.
You may need many containers to store the records, including special ones for records with archival value. Consult your archivist if you need help. You can find the transfer guideline at www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/007/f2/007-1028-e.pdf
You may need specialized equipment for moving and storage. This may be a challenge if the records are stored in several locations.
If you bring in additional people, you will probably need tables and chairs.
Speak to a Legacy Business Records PM in another department. They may be able to tell you what they found useful.
In addition to the obvious items such as the boxes and furniture listed above, you may need software licenses, computers, fax machines, and photocopiers.
It is very likely that space will be at a premium. You may find it easier if you get some 'swing space' to work in. Most institution's legacy business records are spread across several locations. It may be cheaper and easier to move the work to the people in a central location. It is harder to manage many small teams than one larger one. If you are looking at records in a client's office space, you may have to take the records off-site. This will be less disruptive to their work.
By this stage in the project, you will want to know what records are in each location. You will need are fairly good estimate of how many there really are in each place as well as in total.
For many institutions, reducing the backlog will be a very major task. It may be easier to deal with in pieces. If this is the case, you may need to set an order of priority. You may want to start small and build on success.
Once this has all been done, check the Project Charter one last time. You may have to make some adjustments. It is better to make these before starting work. It helps to manage expectations as you go.
This next group of planning functions sets how the work will be done. It also gets the people ready to start.
Reminder: The numbers on the flowchart start at #23. This is because only the major activities are shown on the flowchart. All the steps in this part of the Planning Phase are described in this section.
You need to decide how you want the work to be done. You can then check that all the tasks are covered. It also helps everyone understand what has to be done, how and by whom.
The idea is not to use the usual standard approach for managing records. You want to be able to do this fast, possibly taking some risks. As PM, you need to decide how best to approach the work.
Especially if you have a mix of new and experienced staff, you need good work procedures. If you are taking short-cuts, document what you are doing and why. You may need to explain why later on.
All projects should be evaluated in some way after they have been finished. That way you will know how successful the project was. But not all projects will need a formal evaluation.
26. Develop Audit Framework
Only very large projects are likely to be audited. Discuss your project with the department's audit staff. Ask if they think that the project could be audited. If this is possible, ask what you need to do during the project to make it easier for them to conduct the audit afterwards.
There are several groups who could provide advice:
Ask what sort of questions would be asked in an evaluation. Also ask what you should be doing during the project. You want to make sure that the information is available at the end.
Performance measures are used two ways:
The first kind looks at progress against plan and budget. The second looks at the situation before and after the project.
You need to collect information before you begin, during the project and then after. Decide what you need, how you will get it and how you will report it.
By this stage you know:
The trainers will need to be experienced staff. Especially if you are doing the work in more than one place or with more than one team, you will want consistency. One way to get this is through training the team leaders.
It will be particularly important to train new staff on their jobs. Some of that training will be done before they start. Most is likely to be on the job.
This last group of planning tasks covers the records management pieces.
Reminder: The numbers on the flowchart start at #32. This is because only the major activities are shown on the flowchart. All the steps in this part of the Planning Phase are described in this section.
All GoC institutions have a records classification system. But not all their records may fit into that system. Before you start, you need to know what the classification system is and if it is likely to be valid for the legacy business records.
You may find that some of the records could fit in the file classification system if minor changes are made. You should discuss this with your archivist. The archivist can make a decision on a collection of documents (for example, on Registration ledgers and map collections).
By now you should have some idea of the sort of records you will be dealing with. You need to have enough of a classification system to tell you what you are handling.
LAC is developing a new kind of classification system. It is based on functions and not on subjects. You do not have to wait for the new classification system. If there is an old classification system that will do, use it.
If there is no classification system for the records, the issue may be referred to IM Operations for resolution.
Records must be covered by a Records Disposition Authority issued by the National Archivist of Canada before they can be disposed. You need to know what RDAs there are and what they will cover.
Definition: A records disposition authority is the instrument that the Librarian and Archivist issues to enable government institutions to dispose of records which no longer have operational utility, either by permitting their destruction, by requiring their transfer to Library and Archives Canada or by agreeing to their alienation from the control of the Government of Canada.
The LAC has recently reviewed the status of all RDAs. A letter has been sent to each department. For each department, the letter says which RDAs are still valid and which have been revoked. This letter needs to be reviewed to determine what is still applicable and what can no longer be used.
The department also needs to look at the Multi-Institutional Disposal Authorities (MIDAs) to determine coverage. The MIDA covers basic administrative records (with some exceptions).
Definition: A MIDA or Multi-Institutional Disposition Authority is a Records Disposition Authority (see definition of records disposition authority), granted by the Librarian and Archivist of Canada to government institutions on a multi-institutional basis, which relates to records managed by all or a multiple number of government institutions, and which allows the institutions empowered to use the authority to dispose of records under certain terms and conditions.
For information on MIDAs, go to www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/government/disposition/007007-1008-e.html
All operational records must be covered by an Institutional Specific Disposition Authority (ISDA). Some administrative records are not covered by any of the MIDAs. These are treated as operational records and must be covered by an ISDA.
Definition: An ISDA or Institution-Specific Disposition Authority is a Records Disposition Authority (see definition of records disposition authority) related to records managed by a single government institution, and which allow the institution empowered to use the authority to dispose of records under certain terms and conditions.
ISDAs take precedence over all other Records Disposition Authorities issued by the National Archivist. (Source: MIDA, Introduction)
If there is a valid RDA that you can use, use it. If there is a close fit, check with your Archivist. If the records cannot be covered under an existing RDA, they go back to IM Operations.
LAC negotiates with institutions to establish new ISDAs, but this is a separate process. This issue must be referred to IM Operations for resolution.
For additional information on the application of RDA's, go to: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/government/disposition/007007-1033-e.html
Retention Periods are determine by institutions in their retention and disposition schedule.
LAC has guidelines on retention periods for common administrative records. These are based on best practices over the last thirty years.
Treasury Board has a retention policy for records containing personal information based on the Privacy Act. The TBS Website has more information:
There may not be valid retention schedules for some of the legacy business records. You may be able to set retention periods during the project. If this is not possible, you can refer the issue to IM Operations for resolution. You must have justification for any deviation from the Retention and Disposition Schedule or Guidelines.
By this stage in the project, a lot has happened since the workplan was first drafted. You have a lot more information about what has to be done. Check the plan one last time before work starts.
The project will be managed against this workplan. It is important that it be correct. It should be refined one last time before work starts. Any additional detailed steps can be included.
This is the heart of the project. In it the records are inventoried, classified, sorted and disposed. Here is the flowchart of the whole phase.
Reminder: The numbers on the flowchart start at #42. This is because only the major activities are shown on the flowchart. All the steps in the Executing Phase are described in this section.
This phase also has a number of steps. We have divided it into three pieces. These are the groups of activities to:
The flowchart for the first group of activities is:
Reminder: The numbers on the flowchart start at #42. This is because only the major activities are shown on the flowchart. All the steps in this part of the Executing Phase are described in this section.
By now you have a good idea of how many linear feet or meters of legacy business records you really have. If you have records in more than one place, you will have an inventory for each location. You will now be dealing with more detailed inventory lists or creating them.
You can now enter all your inventory lists into your database. This will give you good overall control. It is also your base line measure. One of your success measures will be how much you have managed to reduce your inventory. It could also be how many locations you have reduced.
The records need to be 'efficiently' classified and organized. This means that you may have different levels of detail depending on how you are going to dispose of the records.
Records that you will destroy need only be classified to the level that you know what they were and you can justify why they were destroyed. The classification may be more detailed for records you keep, send to the Archives, transfer to other GoC institutions, or alienate to institutions outside the GoC.
Two kinds of records must go through your normal process:
In step 34, you reviewed the classification system. You can now use it to classify the records. Here are some Tips for shortcuts.
In steps 36 to 38, you validated the RDAs. You now use the valid MIDA and ISDAs.
The records are first sorted into two groups: those covered by a MIDA and those covered by an ISDA.
You apply the RDAs in this order:
ISDAs cover records managed by a single institution. They document:
For additional information on an ISDA, read Step 38 above.
You can also go to: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/government/disposition/007007-1033-e.html
Your Archivist may be able to help you fit the records into the classification system. If any records do not fit under either the MIDA or an ISDA, you send the issue to IM Operations for resolution.
MIDA records are divided into three groups
Transitory records are records that are needed for only a limited time. They are used to complete a routine action or to prepare a subsequent record. They exclude records:
You can find a more formal definition at www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/government/disposition/007007-1016-e.html
MIDA 2.1, 4. Definition
Operational and medium-specific records. Five kinds of records fit into this category:
Common administrative records are records to support and document broad internal administrative functions and activities. These functions and activities are common to or shared by all federal government institutions. The Common administrative functions are:
You can find a more formal definition in the following document: MIDA 3, Common Administrative Records, Appendix I - Terms and Conditions, A. Key Definitions)
You can go to www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/government/disposition/007007-1008-e.html for more information on MIDAs.
The Program or Function Area responsible for the records approves the retention periods. If you cannot identify that area, send the issue to IM Operations to resolve.
A number of factors influence the validity of the retention schedule. You need to review the retention schedule to determine if it is still appropriate. If any changes are needed, they must be approved (see Step 49).
The area with primary responsibility for the records must approve the retention period.
This next set of steps checks for two things: are the records ready for disposition and do they have archival value.
Reminder: The numbers on the flowchart start at # 53. This is because only the major activities are shown on the flowchart. All the steps in this part of the Executing Phase are described in this section.
There are two sorts done at this stage:
You can now sort the records using the retention periods. There will be two groups:
You now have to sort the records into those with archival value and those without archival value. The value is done according to a valid RDA.
You do this sort on the two groups of records that you have: records that are ready for disposition and records that are not yet ready for disposition. By doing the ones that are not ready yet, you will save time and effort in the future when they are ready for disposition.
At the end of this step, you will have four groups of records:
Ready for disposition
Not ready for disposition
With archival value
No archival value
These records come from two sources:
The records whose retention periods have been extended will be dealt with in Step 66.
You can now put these records under proper records control. They must all be properly boxed. You may wish to speak with your archivist and/or your regional FRC about storage, boxing and listing requirements.
There are two other sources for information:
You now sort the records that are not ready for disposition one last time.
Records that now belong to another GoC institution: This could happen if there was a reorganization or if the program moved. These records can be moved to the new institution. For example: Consumer and Corporate Affairs (CCA) was abolished. The Department of Industry is now responsible for protecting consumers. CCA records would be sent to Industry Canada.
If there is no organization looking after the same kinds of functions, consult your LAC archivist for direction on how to deal with the records.
For the disposition of these records, please see step 64.
Records that no longer belong to the GoC: Although the records were created by the GoC, they could now 'belong' to another institution. This could happen for example, when a program is transferred to a province, territory or the records are now of value to an outside institution such as university. No records can be transferred outside of the GoC without the approval of the National Archivist of Canada.
For the disposition of these records, please see step 65.
Records that still belong to this Institution: These are the records that you still 'own' but are not yet ready for disposition. They are ready for the final step in their process.
For the disposition of these records, please see step 66.
These are the records that are ready for disposition. There could be some with archival value and some without.
59. List and box records ready for disposition
You can now box the records and list the contents. If the records have archival value, please consult your archivist for listing and boxing requirements. You can also consult the Guidelines on the Transfer of Textual Archival Records.
The boxes are set aside until the records owners sign off the list.
This is the last opportunity for the program or functional manager to keep the records for longer. They get one final review to approve the disposition.
If the retention periods has changed, it must be approved by the records owner. You must also amend the listing.
This is the final sort. You sort them into three groups.
Records not ready for disposition: If the record owner has extended the retention period, they must go back into storage. You send the boxed and listed records back to IM Operations. They go back into the regular records management operations to be stored and managed.
Archival records: These records have archival value and are no longer needed by the institution.
Records ready for destruction: These records are no longer needed by the department and are of no value to LAC as per the RDA.
The records that now belong to another GoC institution need to be sent to that organization. This can be done as soon as you and the other organization have agreed on the transfer. You send the list and any other information you have on the records to the receiving institution. You should inform your Archivist.
The records that no longer belong to the GoC can be sent only after you have received approval from the Librarian and Archivist. You may be required to make copies of some of the documents. You send the list and any other information you have on the records to the receiving institution. You should inform your Archivist once the alienation has taken place.
The records that you will want to keep come from two sources. Some will have been found in step 53 where the records were sorted into ready / not ready for disposition. These are records that have not yet reached the end of their retention period.
The second group of records are those that the managers have decided are still needed. On these, the retention period was extended.
You can now send both of these kinds of records back to the IM Operations. They go back into the regular records management operations to be stored and managed.
You can now make arrangements with your archivist to transfer the records to LAC.
From all the records you started with, you finally have those that can be destroyed. They must be destroyed in accordance with the GoC Security Policy and the Privacy Act.
For additional information, see the following Websites:
Security Policy: (www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pubs_pol/gospubs/TBM_12A/siglist_e.asp)
Privacy Act: (http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/p-21/text.html)
This 'phase' actually runs in parallel with Planning and Executing the work. It starts from the time the project is approved and continues until the work is finished. That is, the Controlling activities run from the start of Project Planning and end when the Project Execution has been completed.
This phase could also be called, 'Managing the Project'.
There is no flowchart of the Controlling activities.
Controlling the project starts at Step 9, when you get permission to carry out the project. At that point you begin to plan the project and your first task is to write the Project Charter. outlined what would be managed. These included:
You will have to set up systems and procedures for each of these. If the project is small, most can be informal. In a large project, you will need to have a formal way to monitor and control these.
You will need three kinds of monitoring and reporting:
To do this, you will need to set up systems to collect the data. It will have to be analyzed and then reported.
In addition to reporting on the project, you may be asked for information on it. Reporting tends to be regular status reporting and is normally provided to the governance structure.
There are two kinds of information on the project:
Requests for specific information could come from other RMs or PMs as they set up their own Legacy Business Records Projects. It could also come from other areas within the institution (for example, another area that is considering what it would take to clear their legacy records). The request could be from outside the institution (for example, the media).
For some of the requests, you may want to work with your Communication specialists.
This group of activities is shown as one block on the flowchart:
By this stage, you have finished the disposition of all the records. This is what you have done with them:
Now that you have completed the work, the project can be closed. You can find more information on this TB website on Project Management: www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/emf-cag/project-projet/projects-projets/closing-cloture/closing-cloture00_e.asp
You can now close off all items. For example, you can pass along any items that may be useful to the on-going IM operations. You also return rented or loaned equipment and close all contracts. You can also release all space that is no longer needed.
You assess various aspects of the project including the:
Your report should cover the major sections in the original Project Charter:
You should also address the communication strategy for the project findings.
Those who gave permission for the project, sign off acceptance. By signing at this stage, they are saying that the project has been completed. They may note any areas that are incomplete. This just means that that work will not be done. For example, the department's priorities could change and the project could be cut short. They could also note any sections for special attention (deficiencies or merit).
The final tasks are to communicate the project results and celebrate success.