ARMA UK Chapter November Roundtable Follow Up.

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In November the Chapter held a roundtable discussion on the use and application of existing, and future standards for records management / information governance. The conversation was very productive and left attendees with a better understanding of the intention of standards and how they may be applied to an organisation or specific role.

 

Key Take Aways included:

  1. Standards come in two forms, Physical and Procedural.

A Physical standard represents things that can be tested and defined as fit for purpose, or not. Procedural standards (i.e. ISO 15489) set out the recommend way of dealing with a specific activity such as records management; but they crucially do not state how this should be achieved.

 

  1. Functional Requirements as a standard:

Historically there have been a number of attempts to define what functionality should be available in systems to manage / govern records and information. The group considered standards such as The National Archives 2002 Functional Requirements for Electronic Record management Systems; and agreed they had given a valuable framework for developers. Although it was noted these may not be as useful to organisations trying to establish process for governing information – being specific to technology.

 

  1. Standards form a useful part of a business case for developing information governance, but can only be a driver where there is tangible buy-in from senior management.  This tends to lean organisations to those Physical or testable standards which generate some form of “certification”. It was agreed that more may be needed in IG standards to find the right “hook” to get senior buy-in across organisations.

 

  1. Related to point 3 is the mandatory nature of standards. Examples of ISO 9000 and ISO 27001 were used as examples of where organisations demand a standard of suppliers / partners which creates a default mandatory requirement. It was discussed that if this type of approach became more common for IG, it may generate the necessary traction / buy-in to establish the standards as mandatory. Whilst considered valuable and helpful for direction, the group agreed that a more engaging story or validation of how the standards have led to improved governance was needed to generate interest.

 

  1. The conversation concluded with a discussion on the variety and relative “hierarchy” of the existing standards from ISO 15489 to ISO 3300 series.One of the main challenges being that accessibility to standards is quite limited and users can find it difficult to determine; a, how the standards do or don’t relate to each other so which to start with; b, what potential hierarchy is there in the standards that helps identify which matters most, and to whom each applies (specific roles or organisationally wide).

 

The event concluded with a call from Alan Shipman for participation in the development of standards and invited people to get in touch with him to learn how to do this.

 

Tim Callister

ARMA European Region Director.

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