Introduction Before we can critically evaluate the statement, “the life cycle of a record comprises just four stages i.
e. creation, usage, storage, destruction. Therefore staffs who work with records/information are ideally junior staff with some basic knowledge of computer software such as Microsoft Office, together with a basic understanding of filing and disposal techniques.” There are several aspects of records/information management that we need to be aware of, to be able to arrive on a critical evaluation that is beyond question.Foremost is to get a general idea of what records/information management is, and the pertinent terms that need to be defined in connection with the statement as the meaning of record is very board. Second is to have an understanding of the relationships between the concepts behind information management, corporate risk and corporate governance and its impact on the statement. The third would be the best practice in information management involving accountability and compliance in comparison to the statement. The fourth would be the processes in information management and the management of other corporate assets in relation with the statement.
And lastly the needs and solutions of information management and as compared with the statement.What is a Record?In AS ISO 15489.1, records are defined as “information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business” (Australian Standards, 2002, 3.15). This definition may be too universal or generic for some to comprehend, so lets us look on to the Public Records Act 2005, which gives us a more detailed view of what a record might be, which defines the term as: “information, whether in its original form or otherwise, including (without limitation) a document, a signature, a seal, text, images, sound, speech, or data compiled, recorded, or stored, as the case may be,– (a) in written form on any material; or (b) on film, negative, tape, or other medium so as to be capable of being reproduced; or (c) by means of any recording device or process, computer, or other electronic device or process.” (Ellis, 2006) So now, we know that records are not just paper-based information, which is how the traditionalist view records to be and incidentally also how our initial statement seems to look at records as well.
It was customary to assume that records management would only be dealing with paper-based records and record keeping is limited to an administrative managing of documents, such is what the initial statement might have inferred. Although electronic records are not the conventional physical record or paper based records that is common it was a means that was embraced as conduct of business now in this era of information technology revolution through the internet and standard has been devise to address the management of electronic records as well. (Roberts, 1997)What are electronic records?Electronic record is the evidence of a particular action that took place at a particular time. And as defined by the Standard version 2.
1 (2002) “it is the evidence of what has happened, of who was involved and when. “ Electronic record is like paper-based record in this aspect. But electronic records can include e-mail, Internet content, documents, spreadsheets, drawings, databases, and digitally recorded images, some of which may not be contained in paper-based form. Electronic records requires special management, as precisely pointed out by Kilkki (2004) “electronic records don’t act like their counterparts fixed on paper and therefore they can’t be managed by similar tools.
”Why are records preserved?In a study made by Öberg & Borglund (ca. 2006) they were able to identify the causes why records are preserved. 1) All records in the organization are preserved because of legal demands, 2) because of their business value and, 3) for cultural and historical content.Since businesses, and government alike have already embrace the use of electronic records in their day to day operation, it is important to manage these electronic records for accountability and documentary heritage, and to pass on to the future generations properly created and captured, without alterations, and to remain accessible for as long as they are needed.
These records and information are now considered as assets (Gabberty & Thomas, ca. 2007, p. 3) intangible they may be, it would be to the interest of the organizations to seek these records and information’s preservation than their destruction.(Australian Standards, 2002, 3.15)What is meant by Life Cycle of a Record?In a conference, Professor Sue McKemmish, an associate professor in the Department of Librarianship, Archives and Records at Melbourne’s Monash University and current Laureate of the Australian Society of Archivists, explained that “The life cycle model sees records passing through stages until they eventually ‘die’, except for the ‘chosen ones’ that are reincarnated as archives.” (McKemmish, n.
d. cited Steemson) The moment these are turned over to archives, Life cycle of a record ceased to exist. Thereby a clear indication of separation in the traditional Life cycle model and the Archives and records management line of work. She further explained that the Life cycle model is now superseded by a new Australian devised records process called the “records continuum”. Through this new record keeping philosophy, records keeping and archiving processes are integrated. (Steemson, n.d.)In considering the legal and economic settings and the challenge impose by managing digital records ‘life cycle’ should not be seen as a linear progression of independent stages (Bailey & Cameron, 2004) stress instead for a pro-active intervention, possibly from the point of creation or earlier in the planning of new systems and process that creates and maintain the records.
What are the stages in the life cycle of a record?Theodore Schellenberg once said that a record cycle is, “going through various stages or periods, much like a living organism”. (cited Philip Batin, n.d. p. 3) The four stages are as follows; 1) Creation, 2) Active period frequency of usage, 3) Semi active status and put under storage on site, 4) Destruction if found to be of no use or value or reserved for indefinite period of time for archival value. In summary the traditionalist perceived records as pre-archival and archival; active and inactive. And the intervention of the archivist happens at the last stage of the life cycle. In the life cycle model not only what happens to a record is discussed, but also who will handles what in each stage or process.
In the creation stage, the record creators have responsibility in managing the record, but on some occasion under the supervision of record managers. In the semi-active stage, the record manager takes and assumes the responsibility of managing the records. And after which the intervention of the archivist comes in the inactive stage.Identifying RecordsWith these findings it is therefore imperative that a records system must be implemented that is in tune with the requirements of managing records as how AS ISO 15489.1 have defined it. Organizations should adopt strategies in documenting transactions or activities.
It should ask what records are required, when are these records needed, how and where will they be captured into records. By classifying records the organization will be able to have accessed to it when required. This would mean more productivity, and gain to the organization against loses it would incur in trying to find a lost record in the course of its doing business, vital records for audit, and evidences in lawsuits. It is also critical that training will be given to people who will handle these records in the course of their work, such as the staffs and record managersInformation management, corporate risk and corporate governanceCurrently organizations have different criteria on retaining records depending on how they see and use records in their organizations. It would then be on part of the Government and Industry regulators to help in making a typical model of sorts for these organizations to follow as to what the Government and Industry regulators expect to see if they would do an audit or investigation on the said organizations.Organizations on their part should include in the framework of their information management systems the following considerations in a record for its retention; 1) If the information documents daily conduct of the business?, 2) If the information provides inputs in business decisions, 3) If the information therein provide evidence on why where a business decision was made?, 4) If the information contained in the record is required for legal, fiscal, audit, or tax purposes? Still there are other considerations to look for in a record that would require special protection such as articles of incorporation, annual reports and shareholders records. Summing up these scenarios, Information Management relationship with corporate risks is to make certain that the information is managed and used in accordance with legal and regulatory requirements and inconformity to standards or best practice and its relation with corporate governance is to make certain that the information is managed and used so that it contributes value to the core business of the organization. Authenticity of a record is important, being that it was not tampered and all its contents “true” to what took place in an event or business transaction, and would further be reliable to served as evidence of actions and transactions; Its integrity lies in it being complete and unaltered and useability accessible in the sense that it can be located and retrieved.
(Australian Standards, 2002, 7.2)Accountability, Legal Compliance and Best Practice RecordkeepingWhat is accountability?In AS ISO 15489.1 3.
2, accountability is defined as “the principle that individuals, organizations and the community are responsible for their actions and may be required to explain them to others” With this in mind it is imperative for people managing records to comply with legal requirements and together with this, to apply best practice in their recordkeeping. There are various legal requirements that applies to electronic records management for which legal compliance is required to the following acts and principles; 1) State Records Act 1997 which make certain, that best practices is observe by agencies particularly on the management of official records; 2) Freedom of Information Act 1991 ensures public rights to obtain access to information held by the Government and such records are not incomplete, incorrect, out-of-date or misleading; 3) Information Privacy Principles (issued as Cabinet Administrative Instruction No. 1 of 1989 & reissued 30 July 1992) relate to the collection, storage, access, correction, use, and disclosure of personal information contained within records; 4) Electronic Transactions Act operates as an interpretation law; 5) Evidence Act 1929) to make admissible in legal proceedings the output of a computer in circumstances in which it would not otherwise be admissible in civil and criminal proceedings; 6) Public Sector Management Act 1995 responsive, effective, and efficient service delivery performance public sector; 7) Local Government Act 1999 sets direct responsibility on Chief Executives to make sure that records required by legislation are properly kept and maintained. (Standard Version 2.
1, 2002)AS ISO 15489 as a code of best practiceA new Australian Standard on records management has been introduced to replace Australian Standard, AS 4390-1996, Records Management, last March 13, 2002. The Standard is in two parts: 1) AS ISO 15489.1-2002, Records Management – Part 1: General, this contains a high level statement of records management principles and, 2) AS ISO 15489.2-2002, Records Management – Part 2: Guidelines which is a technical report that provides more detail and guidance to assist with the implementation of best practice recordkeeping. This new standard is an Australian codification of the International Standard on Records Management, ISO 15489, and represents international best practice for recordkeeping as well. Records managers as well as staff will be guided in the implementation of this standard in their recordkeeping system.Information Management and the Management of other corporate needsNow that records pertain not only to paper-based records but electronic data as well it would be precise to have an Information Management system in place to encompass all kinds of records. This would require skilled records/information management practitioners of whose qualification will be discussed below, particularly staffs in records and information management.
What are ideal qualifications for staffs in records and information management?In a study made by Margaret Pemberton, there were two perceived levels of recordkeeping staffs in practice, the professionals and para-professionals or ‘operational or processing’ staff. The challenges called for by changes in the recordkeeping professions prompted the rise to prefer recordkeeping professional staffs with formal level of education for basic entry-level with domain specific hands-on processing skills to higher level strategic planning skills. They are also expected to possess a diverse range of recordkeeping knowledge and experience includes; 1) All aspects of recordkeeping as required to implement the recordkeeping standards AS4390 and ISO 1548916 in a variety of organizational and industry environments, 2) High competence levels as outlined in the Recordkeeping competency standards, 3) Good understanding of and technical competence with information management software and systems and general Microsoft Office products and the Internet, 4) General management and staff/interpersonal management skills, 5) Ability to perform well as a member of a team, and team and project management skills and experience, 6) Strong written and oral communication skills, 7) Well-developed analytical and problem solving skills, 8)Creativity and flexibility, 9) Professional image and manner, 10) Pleasant outgoing personality and confident manner, and 11). Commitment to customer service. (Pember, 2003) .ConclusionBy defining the terms of the statement from the viewpoint of AS ISO 15489 and standards, the different perspectives of authors of scholarly papers, an overview of the information management frameworks in relation to concepts of corporate risk and corporate governance, the aspect of accountability in relation to legal compliance and best practices, the challenge impose by managing information and other corporate assets. And an understanding of the needs imposed by changes in the recordkeeping industry and solutions of information management one of which is the hiring of professional staffs from the entry-level.
The conclusion here by today’s standards is the initial statement is null and void because records now are perceived as continuum and staffs are professionals with formal level of education and possess a diverse range of recordkeeping knowledge and experience.ReferencesAustralian Standard, 2002, AS ISO 15489.1, Records Management Part 1: General., Sydney: Standards Australian International Ltd Bailey, S. & Cameron, A., 2004, “Developing an Institutional Records Management Programme: JISC” Available at http://www.jisc.ac.
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, “Strategies for managing electronic records: a new archival paradigm? An affirmation of our archival traditions?”, pp. 3-4. Available at http://www.indiana.edu/~libarch/ER/macpaper12.pdf Ellis, J., ed., 2006.
“Glossary of Archives and Recordkeeping Terms”, Archives New Zealand, Available at http://www.archives.govt.nz/continuum/documents/publications/g5.
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2007, “Driving Creativity: Extending Knowledge Management into the Multinational Corporation”, Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management vol. 2, no. 2007, p 3.
Available at http://www.ijikm.org/Volume2/IJIKMv2p001-015Gabberty.pdf International Standards Organization. (2001a). ISO 15489-1.
Information and Documentation and Records Management Part 1: General., Geneva: International Standards Organization. Kilkki, J. 2004, “Functional Approach to Electronic Recordkeeping”, Military Archives of Finland. Available at http://www.
sota-arkisto.fi/inet/files/pdf/ica_vienna_kilkki.pdf Öberg, L. & Borglund, E. ca. 2006, “What are the characteristics of records?”, International Journal of Public Information Systems, vol.
2006, no.1, pp. 55-76. Available at http://www.ijpis.net/issues/no1_2006/IJPIS_no1_2006_p4.
pdf Pember, M., 2003, ‘A decade of recordkeeping education at Curtin University of Technology: Flux and flexibility’, The Australian Library Journal, vol. 52, no. 1, April 2003, pp.
65-79. 18 Available at http://espace.lis.curtin.edu.au/archive/00000989/02/What_employers_want_final_31_December_2005.pdf. Roberts, D., 1997, “The New Australian Records Management Standard”, Available at http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/publicsector/rk/sacramento/sacramento.htm Standard Version 2.1, 2002, “Introduction to Electronic Records Management”, State Records of South Australia, Available at http://www.archives.sa.gov.au/files/management_standard_introelecrecmgmt.pdf Steemson, M., n.d., “Confident Australian Records Managers Pick Up the Challenge of the Future,” Available at http://www.caldeson.com/confidnt.html