Business Processes and the Archives

If records are created by people, and people create records when they do something, then how do you define the things they do?
While looking for a list of things people do at any University this question has been front and center in my mind. The question becomes even more complicated when I think about what I have done today. Today, I wrote email, attended a meeting, wrote a memo about the meeting and right now I am writing this blog entry. But none of this tells you why I do what I do? And maybe this is the real question at hand. It's a question of human behavior that is implicit in any discussion of Business processes or business functions.
The International Standard for Describing Functions published by the International Council on Archives defines a function as:

Any high level purpose, responsibility, or task assigned to to the accountability agenda of a corporate body by legislation, policy or mandate. Functions may be decomposed into sets of co-ordinated operations such as subfunctions, business processes, activities, tasks or transactions.

So somewhere between my job title, department, education and desires lies the reason for what I do and my function. I work in an archive. So how does one define the functions of an archive?
Archives (and I may be forgetting some here):

  • manage records
  • manage information
  • raise funds
  • conduct outreach (alumni relations)
  • preserve records of enduring value
  • provide information
  • internal research
  • historical analysis
  • business analysis
  • scan
  • maintain electronic files in a persistent and trustworthy way
  • Project management
  • risk analysis
  • conservation
  • exhibit and event planning

I (as an project archivist for TAPER) do:

  • project management
  • internal research
  • historical analysis
  • business analysis

Functional analysis certainly gives a greater sense of the context for the records created while doing what it is you do. But in some ways, categorizing people into business functions feels restrictive because you loose the fleeting interpersonal functions of an employee that often go unrecorded.
Maybe there should be additional job titles that start to get at these functions like:

  • Office mother
  • clown
  • confidant
  • moral supporter
  • knower of random information
  • word doc formatting professional
  • listener
  • skeptic
  • baker

Maybe then, we would get to know the real person behind the records.