Enterprise Data Records Management case study for merged organisation

Restructuring organisations often requires significant work to restructure the support systems used, and this case study discusses the challenges, the approach used and the outcomes of a major project to do exactly this.


In late 2011, the decision was made to merge three government organisations into one new Ministry of Primary Industries. The three organisations were the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) and the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish).

This merger had tight timeframes and tight budgets. It included a restructure that meant almost all staff had both increased workloads and uncertainty about whether they would have a position in the new Ministry.

Each organisation had an existing hierarchical folder structure (taxonomy) that had been implemented into their EDRMS system. The taxonomies for MAF and NZFSA were aligned to each other, but the MFish design was different again.
Inclusions in the project scope

  • Development of a revised structure for the function-based corporate file plan
  • Development of a security plan against the revised file plan
  • Development of a communication strategy
  • Business consultation with key people

The initial scope was to merge the corporate functions including Finance and People Management, Facilities Management, Governance, and Ministerial Services.

Given the pressures that all staff were experiencing at the time, great care was needed in how to engage with them about the Taxonomy. The key risk was that staff would not engage with the project, with the linked outcome of resistance during the implementation phase. In addition, there was considerable pressure on people in the decision-making roles as they merged into one organisation.

Step by step approach used

The approach was to minimise disruption to staff and use existing expertise to get a solution design that staff could comment on. It was important for people to be able to see visual representations of the draft taxonomy and to be able to comment on and edit them in workshops without having to spend extra time outside the workshop environment.

In order to do this, Knoware:

  1. Created an engagement and communications plan designed to minimise the impact on staff but provide opportunities for them to contribute to the design
  2. Did an analysis of the existing taxonomies and how they related to each other (see Figure 1, below)
  3. Mapped this visually using mind mapping tools, including any notes on likely issues, security restrictions and links to existing disposal classes
  4. Ran a joint workshop on each functional area (Finance Management, People Management etc). Participants in each workshop were the staff from MAF, NZFSA and MFISH who currently administered the taxonomies, including those who provided technical support to the EDRMS

During the workshop, the mindmap of the relevant function was projected onto a screen, and then a first draft of the new structure was created, using the draft mapping and moving components into a new draft structure as agreed by the group, section by section. The new taxonomy was mapped to the old structures, as it was built

  1. Visual summaries of the workshops were created, including PDFs of the mind maps, and were sent to participants for confirmation
  2. When the first drafts of these structures were completed, they were reviewed by a steering group
  3. Post-approval by the steering group, a second round of workshops was held to show the draft structure to representative of users, e.g. the draft Finance structure was shown to the Finance people who would be working in the new Ministry, and they were able to make changes during those workshops
  4. The structures were then finalised and implemented into the appropriate EDRMS.