Core Competency E: Understand the system of standards and structures endorsed and utilized by the recordkeeping professions, particularly in the areas of electronic records and digital assets management.
What do you understand this competency to mean?
There are a number of organizations that have established standards for management practices for the recordkeeping profession, including the International Organization for Standardization, the Society of American Archivists, and the Association of Records Managers and Administrators. These established and professional recognized standards provide guidance for a myriad of records management issues, including the management of electronic records. Adhering to established standards ensures culpability and uniformity in the management of records, both physical and electronic. These standards have been developed by leading members of the recordkeeping field, and serve as professional guidelines for managing the operation of records repositories as well as for managing the records stored therein.
Electronic records management has emerged as a rapidly growing field within the recordkeeping professions. With the use of mobile devices in the ascendance, records are created at an alarmingly high rate and in quantities larger than have ever been produced before. This phenomena of bulk record creation is known as Big Data, and it can prove a challenge to records managers who must process and maintain electronic records, especially for corporate records centers in which records may still be in an active rather than dormant or storage stage. It is necessary, therefore, to refer to the professional standards and structures created for electronic records management and digital assets management applications to ensure that electronic records are organized and stored effectively and efficiently. “Standards, technical reports, and other best practices documents create a professional environment of advisory and informational publications. They are designed to assist records and information management practitioners with daily business challenges” (Standards and Best Practices, 2015).
The International Organization for Standardization, or ISO, develops standards for a broad variety of applications, including food safety management, information security, social responsibility, and energy management. In the recordkeeping professions, ISO standards used to govern electronic recordkeeping methods include ISO 13008: Digital Records Conversion and Migration Process and ISO/TR 17068: Trusted Third Party Repository for Digital Records. Both of these standards provide a structural framework in which recordkeeping professionals can optimize the management techniques of their digital holdings.
The Society of American Archivists, or SAA, provides a portal on their website where standards for all aspects of archival work can be found, such as administration and management, acquisition and appraisal, arrangement and description, digitization, ethics, preservation, education, reference, and access. This portal was “designed to educate the archives community about the value and role of standards, enhance the application of standards to practice, and facilitate successful partnerships with related information standards organizations with mutual concerns and interests…[with a] long-term goal…to establish a comprehensive clearinghouse that includes contextual information to assist archivists and allied professionals in moving these, and other external standards, from theory into practice” (Standards Portal, 2015). SAA standards can be accessed through this portal for their advantageous use by recordkeeping professionals for the management of their records. Standards that would be particularly useful for recordkeeping professionals managing electronic records include Encoded Archival Description and Encoded Archival Context, as well as links to external digitization standards.
The Association of Records Managers and Administrators, or ARMA, “a not-for-profit professional association and the authority on governing information as a strategic asset,” was established in 1955 and has set forth standards and best practices for the recordkeeping profession (Who We Are, 2015). In addition to standards for physical records are standards governing the management of electronic records and electronic data. In this age of Big Data, the management of electronic records is imperative for controlling the high volume of records created at a rapidly increasing rate by way of electronic mobile devices. ARMA standards such as ANSI/ARMA 19-2012: Policy Design for Managing Electronic Messages, TR 23-2013: Developing Electronic File Structures, and TR 20-2012: Mobile Communications and Records and Information Management can guide records managers in their quest to effectively manage their electronic holdings.
Also established by ARMA for the regulation of recordkeeping are the Generally Accepted Records Principles, or GARP. GARP is composed of eight major principles as follows: accountability, integrity, protection, compliance, availability, retention, disposition, and transparency. The website calls the Principles “generally accepted, specifically relevant,” which I believe accurately summarizes the bearing that the Principles have on the recordkeeping professions (Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles, 2015). Adherence to the GARP principles allows archivists and records managers to operate within an accepted set of regulations that maintains the best practices for recordkeeping.
What course assignments or other work products are you submitting as evidence of your mastery of this competency? Which source or class is your evidence drawn from?
As evidence of my mastery of this competency, I am submitting two pieces of academic work. The first, from MARA 293: Professional Projects, is a discussion on GARP principles for a weekly discussion participation response. The second, from MARA 249: Electronic Recordkeeping Systems and Issues in Electronic Recordkeeping, is a presentation of a proposed (and fictional) electronic records management program.
Why did you select these particular work products as evidence for your mastery of this competency? How do your selections show not simply learning by also application?
- MARA 293: Professional Projects: Week 11 Participation Response
I chose this piece of work as evidence of my mastery of this competency for its discussion of the GARP principles in relation to my professional project for MARA 293. The application of GARP principles to my professional project stresses my understanding of the importance of standards set forth by professional governing bodies of the recordkeeping professions and the impact that these standards have when applied correctly.
This participation discussion question asked that we discuss GARP in relation to our professional projects, exercising a real-world pertinence to the Generally Accepted Records Principles. This discussion applied seven of the eight GARP principles to elements of my professional project, as compliance was not applicable to the project. I applied accountability and integrity to the accessioning forms completed during the acquisition of a new collection. These forms track the donor and the registrar who took possession of the collection on behalf of the historical society, thus maintaining the chain of custody of the collection and preserving the integrity of its creation. I applied the principles of protection, availability, and transparency to the access and usage policies employed by the historical society. Retention and disposition, I noted, apply to the record lifecycle, and materials may be deaccessioned in accordance with historical society protocols should they not be relevant to the collection.
The GARP principles serve as a structural framework around which recordkeeping activities can be gauged for accuracy and efficiency. When an archival project complies with the Principles, the level of effectiveness can be measured and activities adjusted to ensure that records are processed and stored as best they can be.
2. MARA 249: Electronic Recordkeeping Systems and Issues in Electronic Recordkeeping: Electronic Records Management Program Presentation
The application of professionally endorsed standards to electronic recordkeeping ensures uniformity and effective recordkeeping practices are followed. This presentation, created for MARA 249: Electronic Recordkeeping Systems and Issues in Electronic Recordkeeping, proposes a management strategy for an electronic records collection.
The introductory slides summarize the purpose of the management program, the generated outcomes, and the current state of the records prior to the implementation of a management program. Benefits of a program are then discussed, followed by specific objectives and a tentative schedule by which activities can be conducted in order to achieve the aforementioned outcomes. The presentation is concluded with a brief discussion of the necessary resources required for the full implementation of such a records management program. A closer look at this proposal reveals its influence from the GARP principles.
Accountability, integrity, and protection can be achieved through the consolidation of the company’s records; when records are stored haphazardly without regard for their location (be they physical or digital records) they are susceptible to unauthorized access, tampering, and improper or untimely disposal. Organizing these records into a searchable database maximizes the records usability– and therefore, their availability and transparency – in addition to allowing the records manager to enforce a retention schedule with designated disposition policies. In consulting professionally recognized standards for the development of such an electronic records management program, the program will be compliant with archival codes and standards.
What have you learned?
The recordkeeping profession requires much creativity on the part of the archivist, but there is also a necessity for the adherence to professional standards and principles in order to maintain order and uniformity throughout the field. Employing professional standards and recognized principles in recordkeeping practices allows an archivist to operate within predetermined parameters that will ensure the optimal management of records in their holdings. Of course, there is some flexibility required in the management of physical and electronic records, as collections vary widely and require tailored management programs to suit individual needs. The professionally endorsed standards for records management allow for this flexibility – ISO and ARMA best practices and standards offer variations that can be adjusted to suit a collection’s specific requirements while still employing the most comprehensive and efficient management strategies available.
There is specific importance for establishing professionally endorsed records management principles and standards for electronic records and digital collections. The popularity and widespread use of mobile devices and portable electronic devices for business has resulted in the high-volume production of electronic records, known colloquially as Big Data. Big Data is produced exponentially, with high volumes of data created at a rapid rate; electronic correspondence especially, since emails and instant messages are exchanged quickly and easily. In order to manage such a high volume of electronic records, records managers must be highly organized and willing to adapt to new technologies and techniques for electronic records management.
Standards and principles offer guidelines with which records managers can work to control high-volume electronic record management; retention and disposition is critical when managing collections of business data that is being produced in rapid-fire succession using mobile devices and may or may not be critical for current operations. In corporate archives or records centers, records must be maintained for use by the company for legal purposes, and it is necessary that retention schedules put in place to control the volume of records also comply with legal requirements for records retention. Records that pertain to monetary transactions and proprietary information must be monitored carefully by the records manager, and professionally sanctioned standards such as those put forth by ISO and ARMA can assist in establishing efficient management programs.
Managing digital assets requires an acute awareness of the content of the collection in order to establish the best management policies for those records. Standards and structures endorsed by the recordkeeping professions ensure the optimal approach to managing the records in one’s holdings, particularly if the records manager or archivist is aware of the resources at their disposal. The resources provided on the ISO, ARMA, and SAA websites via specific standards portals furnishes records managers with the building blocks with which they may construct an efficient records management program.
Generally accepted recordkeeping practices. (2015). ARMA International. Retrieved from http://www.arma.org/r2/generally-accepted-br-recordkeeping-principles.
Standards and best practices. (2015). ARMA International. Retrieved from http://www.arma.org/r2/standards-amp-best-practices#Standards.
Standards portal. (2015). Society of American Archivists. Retrieved from http://www2.archivists.org/standards.
Who we are. (2015). ARMA International. Retrieved from http://www.arma.org/r2/who-we-are.