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PART 1

THE DIRKS
METHODOLOGY:
A USERS GUIDE
September 2001 (rev July 2003)

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
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The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

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DIRKS manual Users guide

CONTENTS

1.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

1.1
1.2

5
6

Why recordkeeping?
The importance of DIRKS

2.

RECORDS AND INFORMATION

3.

BENEFITS AND OUTCOMES OF RECORDKEEPING AND DIRKS

4.

CHARACTERISTICS OF SYSTEMS THAT KEEP RECORDS

10

4.1
4.2
4.3

10
11
12

5.

6.

7.

Recordkeeping aims
Recordkeeping processes
Recordkeeping systems

UNDERSTANDING DIRKS

13

Figure 1: The DIRKS methodology

13

PATHWAYS FOR USING DIRKS

15

6.1
6.2
6.3
6.4
6.5
6.6
6.7

15
15
15
16
16
17
17

Developing a business case for recordkeeping


Assessing compliance with recordkeeping obligations
Reviewing all information management needs
Preparing a functions-based records disposal authority
Compiling a functions thesaurus to merge with Keyword AAA
Using a mix of paper-based and electronic records
When your agency already has a records management
software package

BEFORE STARTING DIRKS

18

7.1
7.2
7.3

18
19
19

Managing the project


Change management
Skill requirements

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7.4
7.5

Documentation methods and tools


Technical options

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20
21

8.

MONITORING AND EVALUATION

21

9.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND COPYRIGHT

22

ENDNOTES

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1.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

1.1

Why recordkeeping?

DIRKS manual Users guide

Good government requires good recordkeeping. Good recordkeeping


supports efficiency and accountability through the creation, management
and retention of meaningful, accurate, reliable, accessible and durable
evidence of government activities and decisions. Good records are necessary
for government to keep track of what it has done, so that its future activities
can be pursued on the basis of a full and accurate knowledge of what has
occurred and what has been decided in the past. Retention of the corporate
memory of government, in the form of records, helps public servants
perform their duties efficiently and ensures that audit trails necessary for
democratic accountability and transparency are maintained. Good
recordkeeping also helps to protect the legal, financial and other interests of
government. Ultimately, good recordkeeping saves the government, and
hence the community, money. Good records are vital corporate and national
assets and good recordkeeping is essential for a reliable and durable longterm historical record.
In the past good recordkeeping was, by and large, second nature to public
servants. The public service of the past, with its emphasis on process,
hierarchy, and employment of filing clerks and other administrative
assistants, ensured that good records were created and maintained. As we
move into the twenty-first century such certainties can no longer be relied
upon. Now governments emphasise outcomes and outputs over processes
and hierarchies. Public service recruitment patterns, staff induction and
training procedures, and career paths are now very different from those of 20
or 30 years ago. We cannot assume that public servants appreciate the
importance of good recordkeeping or know how to keep good records. The
trend towards semi-autonomous work groups and flatter organisational
structures has contributed to this situation.
In recent years the spread of electronic systems has exacerbated the drift
towards ad hoc or substandard recordkeeping practices. The adoption of
word processing, email and multi-media applications has led to a situation
where the essential evidence of government decisions and transactions is
often kept in the hard drives, email in-boxes and shared folders of individual
public servants or work groups. This form of recordkeeping does not meet
the requirements for full, accurate, reliable, accessible and durable evidence
of government activity. Moreover, such practices pose unacceptable risks to
the capture and management of essential evidence. Not only may individual
public servants delete records without giving adequate thought to whether
those records need to be retained, but there is also the distinct possibility of
large numbers of records being lost each time an organisations computer
software or hardware platform is upgraded.
Fortunately, while technology has contributed to the problem, it also
provides the means for a solution. The solution lies in designing and

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implementing systems that ensure full and accurate records are created and
then retained for as long as they are required to support business,
accountability or wider community interests. The emergence of electronic
records has forced recordkeeping professionals to articulate the basic
principles and components of good recordkeeping in ways that can be
satisfied in the electronic environment. Within this professional community a
consensus has emerged on the essential elements of a theoretical and
practical framework for best practice modern recordkeeping.
1.2

The importance of DIRKS

The DIRKS manual provides the foundation for good recordkeeping. It is the
cornerstone document in the comprehensive suite of best practice
recordkeeping standards and guidelines published by the National Archives
on its e-permanence website at www.naa.gov.au/recordkeeping/. The DIRKS
methodology is an 8-step process designed to assist organisations to improve
their management of records and information. It is based on and expands the
best-practice approach outlined in Australian Standard AS 43901996,
Records Management and International Standard ISO 15489, Records
Management and the accompanying technical report. The methodology is a
structured and rigorous approach designed to ensure that records and
information management is firmly based in the business needs of the
organisation.
The methodology consists of the following eight steps:

preliminary investigation (Step A);

analysis of business activity (Step B);

identification of recordkeeping requirements (Step C);

assessment of existing systems (Step D);

identification of strategies for recordkeeping (Step E);

design of a recordkeeping system (Step F);

implementation of a recordkeeping system (Step G); and

post-implementation review (Step H).

Steps A to C ensure that the systems development process is focused on the


right things while the remaining Steps D to H focus on making sure that
things are done right. [1] Organisations will find the methodology
particularly useful for identifying the gap between their existing practices
and contemporary best practice, regardless of whether they operate in an
electronic, paper-based or hybrid business environment.
Due to its rigour, the methodology requires every organisation to make a
significant commitment in terms of staff, time and money. However, this
investment will pay ongoing dividends to the organisation, government and
wider community through improved efficiency and greater accountability.

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The manual is primarily aimed at project teams established to develop or


review records and information management practices within organisations.
These teams may include organisational staff as well as external consultants.
Depending on the nature of the project, these teams will ideally include the
following:

a senior project manager;

recordkeeping professionals, including archivists and records


managers;

information managers;

information technology (IT) and telecommunications professionals,


including systems analysts, application developers, data managers and
network administrators;

corporate governance specialists, including Freedom of Information


(FOI) officers, privacy and data protection administrators, auditors,
legal professionals and quality assurance personnel;

business area experts; and

staff representatives.

The DIRKS manual provides a comprehensive approach to good


recordkeeping and information management. The National Archives has
developed other specialised products and tools that complement DIRKS.
These include:

Recordkeeping metadata standard: defines metadata elements


necessary to manage records over time;

AGLS metadata standard: online resource discovery metadata that


supports the National Office of the Information Economy government
online initiative;

Policy and guidelines on capturing web-based records: advice on how


to manage websites and other online resources as records;

Why Records Are Kept: outlining the National Archives appraisal


regime and the criteria for keeping records as national archives;

Keyword AAA: a controlled language thesaurus for the classification


of common administrative records;

Administrative functions disposal authority: authorises the retention


or disposal of administrative records, linked to Keyword AAA;

Overview of classification tools for records management : advice on


developing classification tools for managing records and other
information in an organisation;

Developing a functions thesaurus guidelines: advice on developing a


functions-based thesaurus for your organisation; and

Storage standard: information on how to manage the storage of


records.

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Additional products and tools, such as guidelines to support the storage


standard and generic specifications for recordkeeping systems, are under
development.
2

RECORDS AND INFORMATION


The International Standard on records management defines records as
information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information
by an organisation or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the
transaction of business. [2] Records are traditionally regarded as documents
in paper files or bound volumes. In fact, records can exist in any physical
format, such as photographic prints, video cassettes, microfilm and a
multitude of electronic formats.
Records are a subset of information. Information includes published and
unpublished documents, such as monographs, journals, newspapers and
technical literature and data collections. Information contributes to an
organisations knowledge base and helps it to achieve its goals. Such
information may be collected in relation to business activity and support
such activity, but does not, itself, provide evidence of that activity.
Records possess certain characteristics that distinguish them from other
kinds of recorded information. Records are fixed, that is, they are the
product of particular actions that occur at particular times. To retain their
value as authentic and reliable evidence of particular actions, they must not
be altered or tampered with. Records derive much of their meaning, and
therefore their usefulness and value as evidence, from the context in which
they are created, maintained and used, and how they are managed over time.
Organisations are increasingly managing corporate information resources of
all kinds through integrated strategies and common tools. Often records
management, library services and computer systems are administered within
the same business unit. This approach can facilitate close cooperation
between information professionals, promote a common understanding of the
organisations business functions, and enable the best use of technology to
support the organisations information needs. Organisations must ensure,
however, that integrated strategies and tools for the management of all types
of information do not compromise the characteristics that give records their
evidential value.
In other organisations, responsibility for records and information lie with the
relevant business unit. In these circumstances the evidentiary nature of
records is often poorly understood and records may be managed
inappropriately, if they are created at all.
The broad principles of records management creation, management, access
and disposal apply equally to information. In practice it can be difficult to
draw a clear distinction between records and information. The DIRKS
methodology, particularly Step C Identification of recordkeeping
requirements, will help your organisation decide what information you need
to capture as evidence of business activities, that is, what records you need.
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Steps C and D may reveal that what is currently regarded as just


information in your organisation may be evidence of business, and therefore
a record.
For these reasons, it is important not to rely on a preconceived notion of a
record, such as a registry file, when using the DIRKS methodology. It will
limit your project and, potentially, leave problems undiscovered.
3

BENEFITS AND OUTCOMES OF RECORDKEEPING AND DIRKS


The DIRKS methodology can help organisations to:

understand the business, regulatory and social context in which they


operate, and establish a business case for reviewing their
recordkeeping practices (Step A);

analyse business activities and environmental factors to identify their


recordkeeping requirements (Steps B and C);

assess the extent to which existing organisational strategies (for


example, policies, standards, technology) satisfy these requirements
(Step D);

redesign existing strategies or design new strategies to address unmet


or poorly satisfied requirements (Steps E and F); and

implement, maintain and review these strategies (Steps G and H).

The methodology will enable the development of recordkeeping systems and


practices that are based on a sound understanding of an organisations
recordkeeping requirements. Such systems and practices enable
organisations to:

conduct business in an orderly, efficient and accountable manner;

deliver services in a consistent and equitable manner;

support and document policy formation and managerial decisionmaking;

provide consistency, continuity and productivity in management and


administration;

facilitate the effective performance of activities through an


organisation;

provide continuity in the event of a disaster;

meet legislative and regulatory requirements including archival, audit


and oversight activities;

provide protection and support in litigation, including the


management of risks associated with the existence of or lack of
evidence of organisational activity;

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protect the interests of the organisation and the rights of employees,


clients, and present and future stakeholders;

support and document current and future research and development


activities, developments and achievements, as well as historical
research, provide evidence of business, personal and cultural activity;

establish business, personal and cultural identity; and

maintain corporate, personal or collective memory. [3]

The DIRKS approach will also result in the development of products and
tools to support good recordkeeping. These include:

a business classification scheme and functional thesaurus;

documented recordkeeping requirements; and

records disposal authority.

It also provides guidance on the development of appropriate policies and


procedures to support records and information management.
4

CHARACTERISTICS OF SYSTEMS THAT KEEP RECORDS


Many business systems in your organisation may currently keep information
as records. These systems include your organisations registry or main
correspondence system, personnel system and financial management system.
Other systems may contain evidence of business activities that are not being
managed as records, such as workflow programs, database applications,
shared drives and web applications.
All business systems used by an organisation must be capable of capturing,
maintaining and providing evidence of its business activities over time to
satisfy the organisations recordkeeping needs. Every organisation should
undertake DIRKS to identify what evidence of its unique business activities it
needs to keep and what particular form or content such records should have.
While the purpose and content of records will vary between organisations,
much of the system capability or functionality required to capture, maintain
and access such records is common to all agencies. All agencies, irrespective
of their unique business activities, require systems that can capture full and
accurate records and perform processes for managing those records over
time.

4.1

Recordkeeping aims

In order to be full and accurate, records must be authentic, reliable, complete,


unaltered and useable and the systems that support them must be able to
protect their integrity over time. These terms have particular meanings for
system design purposes. [4]

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Authentic it must be possible to prove that a record is what it


purports to be and that it has been created or sent by the alleged
person and at the time purported. Records need to be protected against

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unauthorised addition, deletion, alteration, use or concealment and the


creation, receipt, transmission of records needs to be controlled to
ensure that records creators are authorised and identified.

Reliable it must be possible to trust the content of a record as an


accurate representation of the transaction to which it attests. It should
be created and captured in a timely manner by an individual who has
direct knowledge of the event or generated automatically by processes
routinely used by the organisation to conduct the transaction.

Complete and unaltered it must be possible to protect a record against


unauthorised alteration and to monitor and track any authorised
annotation, addition or deletion.

Useable it must be possible to locate, retrieve, render and interpret a


record and understand the sequence of activities in which it was
created and used for as long as such evidence is required.

System integrity it must be possible to implement control measures,


such as access monitoring, user verification, authorised destruction,
security and disaster mitigation to prevent unauthorised access,
destruction, alteration or removal of records and to protect them from
accidental damage or loss.

Such characteristics are influenced by the type of structural and contextual


information, or metadata, that is built into an organisations business
systems, and the way in which that metadata is applied.
The National Archives has developed a standard that organisations can use
to assess the capacity of their business systems to make and keep full and
accurate records. The Recordkeeping Metadata Standard for Commonwealth
Agencies defines 20 metadata elements that will help organisations identify,
authenticate, describe, manage and retrieve their records in a systematic and
consistent way. Eight of these elements are mandatory and should be applied
to every record created in a business system. The remaining twelve elements
are optional, and may be applied depending on the significance of the record
or the operational needs of the organisation. The standard should be applied
to both electronic and paper-based business systems. Recordkeeping
metadata ensures that the records captured in business systems possess the
necessary qualities to serve as evidence of an organisations activities.
4.2

Recordkeeping processes
In order to capture, maintain and provide evidence over time, systems must also be
capable of performing various fundamental recordkeeping processes. [5] These
processes govern the following operations:

Capture formally determine that a record should be made and kept;

Registration formalise the capture of a record into a designated


system by assigning a unique identifier and brief descriptive
information about it (such as date, time and title);

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Classification and indexing identify the business activities to which a


record relates and then link it to other records to facilitate description,
control, retrieval, disposal and access;

Access and security assign rights or restrictions to use or manage


particular records;

Appraisal identify and link the retention period of a record to a


functions-based disposal authority at the point of capture and
registration;

Storage maintain, handle and store records in accordance with their


form, use and value for as long as they are legally required;

Use and tracking ensure that only those employees with appropriate
permissions are able to use or manage records and that such access can
be tracked as a security measure; and

Disposal identify records with similar disposal dates and triggering


actions, review any history of use to confirm or amend the disposal
status, and maintain a record of disposal action that can be audited.

All of these processes generate metadata that plays an essential role in the
accountable management of records. The Archives recordkeeping metadata
standard can be used as a benchmark to assess the capacity of organisational
business systems to capture this information.
4.3

Recordkeeping systems

All of the business systems that an organisation relies on should be capable


of creating full and accurate records and routinely performing these
fundamental recordkeeping processes on a continuous basis either
individually or through linked operations so that the full range of the
organisations business activities are properly documented. These systems
do not have to be dedicated recordkeeping systems. They can be business
systems (such as database applications or web content managers) that
incorporate the functionality required to keep records. They do not need to
be large or centralised or accessible by everyone in the organisation, but their
recordkeeping role must be identified and administered appropriately.
The amount of metadata about the records and the records management
processes that an organisation captures in its business systems will be
determined by its operational and accountability requirements. The DIRKS
methodology will help each organisation to determine such requirements
and put in place procedures to reassess these needs over time.
The National Archives is developing detailed generic specifications to help
Commonwealth agencies assess the recordkeeping functionality of their
existing business systems or design new systems. These specifications will be
published in 2002. [6]
The business systems that an organisation adopts to manage its records
cannot function effectively in isolation. They must be supported by

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appropriate policies and procedures, assigned responsibilities, user training,


and ongoing maintenance and quality assurance programs. The DIRKS
methodology will also help determine these complementary components of
an organisations recordkeeping framework.
5

UNDERSTANDING DIRKS
The methodology for designing and implementing recordkeeping systems
outlined in Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, is
frequently referred to by the acronym DIRKS. The same approach is used in
International Standard ISO 15489 and the accompanying Technical Report. It
is not surprising, therefore, that the methodology plays an important part in
the recordkeeping regime promoted by the National Archives of Australia.
This regime is introduced in e-permanence Made E-asy: A Managers Guide to
the Strategic Management of Records and Information.

DIRKS is based on the systems development life cycle or waterfall model,


the traditional methodology used to develop, maintain and replace systems
that support the business of an organisation. In common with such models,
the methodology has a number of characteristics. It is:

Generic it provides guidance on why and how an organisation should


approach a systems development project, but does not prescribe what
those systems should look like.

Multi-phased it features several identifiable steps that mark the


progress of the systems development process. Each of these steps can
be regarded as an individual project with its own activities, products
and milestones. Steps may assume greater or lesser significance
depending on the nature of the project.

Systematic it provides a structured set of activities that minimises the


risk that any important issues are overlooked during the systems
development project.

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Flexible specific steps and their sequence can be adapted to suit


particular projects. For example, steps may be undertaken sequentially,
concurrently, at different levels of detail, or repeated in order to
develop acceptable systems. Projects may address the needs of the
whole organisation, discrete business units or individual work groups.

Cyclical it accommodates a continuous process of change, evolution


and redevelopment, with the degradation of one system providing the
impetus for a new project that may lead to modifications of the existing
system or its replacement (hence the life cycle concept).

Iterative each step has specific products and deliverables that


contribute to the systems documentation and provide input to
subsequent steps. In some cases, the same activities are conducted in
different steps for different purposes.

Transparent the systems development process recommends that


certain activities are undertaken and that each of these activities is
documented. This documentation serves a variety of purposes. It:

is a means of managing the developmental process;


provides the basis for subsequent steps;
provides backup for the system in its operational phase;
enables comparison between the anticipated and actual
performance of the system;
forms the basis of user training;
provides a means of communication with stakeholders during

the course of the project; and


provides a reference source for subsequent projects.

The format and content of the documentation will vary.

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Multi-disciplinary the size and skills of the project team may vary
depending on the systems development project and the specific nature
of each step. Members may include recordkeeping professionals, IT
specialists, corporate government specialists, information managers,
business specialists and representative users. Whether the project is
conducted in-house or by external consultants, the participation of
business area experts and system users is vital to the design process.

User-centric the process emphasises the participation of users to help


identify and analyse business activities, processes and needs, and to
develop solutions to improve business practices. Users should include
staff who create, store and retrieve data directly from the system, as
well as staff who rely on information generated from the system by
others. User involvement increases the likelihood that the system will
be successfully implemented.

Project-based systems development projects require careful attention


to project planning, resource management (finance, personnel, time),
risk management, and change management. Milestones provide
frequent opportunities to review or terminate the project. Further

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information on the importance of project management is provided in


Section 7 Before starting DIRKS.
The DIRKS methodology has strong links to other guidelines produced by
the National Archives of Australia. While DIRKS provides the framework for
recordkeeping, other products address specific aspects, such as techniques
for archiving web-based records. We encourage users of the DIRKS
methodology to become familiar with complementary guidelines available
on our website at www.naa.gov.au/recordkeeping.
6

PATHWAYS FOR USING DIRKS


The DIRKS methodology can be used in a number of ways for different
purposes. While a straightforward Step A to Step H approach is
comprehensive and offers many benefits, it is also expensive, time
consuming and may not fit with the immediate needs of your organisation.
Users are encouraged to become familiar with the manual so they can use
those elements, steps and approaches that are useful for more limited
projects or that suit organisational needs. A number of possible scenarios are
outlined below.

6.1

Developing a business case for recordkeeping

A case for recordkeeping can be developed using Appendix 9 Guide to


developing a business case for a DIRKS project and Appendix 10
Recordkeeping costbenefit analysis. This can be supported by Step A and
also parts of Step D. Step A enables you to develop an overview of your
organisation and to position recordkeeping within an organisational context.
Step D will help you to identify problems with current practice.
6.2

Assessing compliance with recordkeeping obligations

The DIRKS methodology provides a systematic process that organisations


can use to identify their recordkeeping requirements and evaluate their
existing compliance. Steps A to D provide the basis for such analysis. In
particular, Step A provides you with an understanding of your
organisational environment and Steps B and C enable you to identify your
organisations recordkeeping obligations. Step D involves a survey of your
organisations current systems and practices and an assessment of these
against recordkeeping obligations.
6.3

Reviewing all information management needs

While devised for designing and implementing recordkeeping systems, the


DIRKS methodology can be used for other strategic planning purposes. Steps
A to C, in particular, provide organisations with a systematic approach to
analysing documentary and other sources that can lead to a clearer
understanding of the organisations purpose, critical activities and related
information needs.

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For example, Step A helps identify the role and purpose of an organisation,
its structure, and its legal, regulatory and sociopolitical environment. Step B
helps identify the organisations functions, activities, transactions and
associated work flows. It results in the development of a business
classification scheme that can provide the foundation for corporate-wide
classification tools. These tools can be used to search, retrieve and control a
variety of information including records, online databases, and intranet
resources. Further information is available in Overview of classification
tools for records management and Developing a Functions Thesaurus:
Guidelines for Commonwealth Agencies
.
In addition to the early analytical steps, subsequent steps, including Step D
Assessment of existing systems and Step E Strategies for recordkeeping,
can be used to establish or review library collection development policies, the
structure and content of corporate intranets, business work flows and
organisational structures.
6.4

Preparing a functions-based records disposal authority

The initial steps of the DIRKS process (Steps A to C) provide the relevant
framework for organisations to undertake appraisal projects. These steps
involve preliminary investigation; analysis of business activity (including
creating a business classification scheme), and identification of
recordkeeping requirements.
Appendix 8 Procedures for developing a records disposal authority in the
Commonwealth provides clear advice on formulating disposal classes based
on your organisations functions, activities, transactions and recordkeeping
requirements. It also outlines the National Archives of Australias requirements for authorising disposal arrangements under the Archives Act 1983.
Commonwealth organisations intending to prepare disposal authorities
should contact the Director, Recordkeeping Implementation, at the outset of
the DIRKS process to be included on the National Archives of Australias
formal work plan. This will ensure that they benefit from the Archives
advice at appropriate points during the projects. (See Contacting us for
contact details.)
6.5

Compiling a functions thesaurus to merge with Keyword AAA

Keyword AAA: A Thesaurus of General Terms is a controlled language


thesaurus of general terms that are common to the business functions and
activities of most government organisations. Keyword AAA by itself cannot
be used effectively to classify all records of an organisation. It is designed to
be used in conjunction with a thesaurus of functional terms relating to the
organisations unique business functions. Bringing the general and
organisation-specific terminology together into one merged thesaurus
provides comprehensive, controlled vocabulary coverage tailored to the
needs of each organisation.
Organisations will need to compile a business classification scheme as a
precursor to developing a functions thesaurus. This involves undertaking a
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preliminary investigation (Step A) and analysing business activity (Step B).


Information on recordkeeping requirements (Step C) can also be useful in
developing a thesaurus. Appendix 6 Practical advice for using Keyword
AAA and AGIFT terms will assist you. The Guide to Developing a Functions
Thesaurus provides advice on the subsequent process of converting the BCS
into a thesaurus, integrating it with Keyword AAA and implementing the
merged thesaurus.
6.6

Using a mix of paper-based and electronic records

The DIRKS methodology provides for a systematic, business-driven


approach to records management irrespective of the medium on which
records are created. It can be used to develop new recordkeeping systems or
to assess the effectiveness of existing systems, whether organisations use
conventional paper-based systems, electronic document management
systems or a combination of both.
However, Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management does
acknowledge the vulnerability of records that exist solely in electronic form.
It stresses that electronic recordkeeping systems must incorporate and
maintain not only the content, but also structural and contextual information
necessary to document transactions and enable them to function as evidence
over time. Appropriate metadata standards are essential to support both
paper and electronic systems (see Section 4 above).
6.7

When your agency already has a records management software


package

Even if your organisation already has electronic recordkeeping systems, the


DIRKS methodology is useful. Recordkeeping involves more than just
systems. Human interaction and organisational behaviour are critical to their
effectiveness. The adoption of records management software products
contributes to a consistent level of best practice across the whole of
government. Each product should be implemented as part of an integrated
approach to organisation recordkeeping. The DIRKS methodology provides
the framework for such a holistic approach.
Even if a software package is not selected and implemented as part of a
comprehensive review of an organisations recordkeeping needs using the
DIRKS methodology, the methodology can be used to evaluate whether the
application is being used to its optimum capacity to address the
organisations recordkeeping needs. The methodology may also identify
other strategies that an organisation should adopt to fully satisfy its
recordkeeping needs (for example, policies, procedures and training). An
organisation also needs to be aware of its recordkeeping obligations. It is
unlikely that a single recordkeeping system will manage all of your
organisations information needs. Step D will enable you to identify all
systems in use in your organisation.

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BEFORE STARTING DIRKS


The DIRKS methodology is a resource-intensive and time-consuming
process. Before commencing a project the following preparation should be
undertaken:

define the scope, objectives and limits of the project;

define the costs and benefits of the project;

allocate human and other resources;

determine requirements for professional assistance;

identify opportunities for outsourcing aspects of the project;

arrange for supervision, monitoring and reporting of progress;

determine methodologies to be used in the project;

develop a project plan;

advise organisation staff about the project; and

train personnel who will be involved in the project. [7]

Most importantly, management support is needed for the project. You may
wish to do parts of this preparatory work in conjunction with Step A.
Conducting the preliminary investigation (Step A) will give you a better
perspective on the work involved in the project.
As stated previously, the project does not have to encompass all of Steps A to
H. You may decide to do the preliminary investigation (Step A), develop a
business classification scheme (Step B) and a functions thesaurus as an initial,
stand-alone project. This work can later be used to assist in the identification
of recordkeeping requirements (Step C) and the development of a disposal
authority. You may later use this work to test your organisations compliance
with recordkeeping obligations, develop strategies to address problems
revealed, and design, implement and monitor these solutions (Steps DH).
7.1

Managing the project

It is vital that recordkeeping projects are properly managed. Careful


preparation and ongoing monitoring will ensure that the project is
completed on time, within budget, according to specifications and at a level
of quality that meets professional standards and management expectations.
For these reasons organisations are encouraged to appoint:

18

a project sponsor who will assume overall responsibility for the project
on behalf of senior management and other resource providers, and will
ensure that the project manager and project team members have the
appropriate level of skills and expertise;

a steering committee that will serve as a review body during the course
of the project, chaired by the projects sponsor and including senior

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Users guide

representatives from each of the business units affected by the project,


the projects manager and a recordkeeping professional; and

a project manager who will be responsible for day-to-day coordination


and implementation of the project in consultation with the steering
committee and who will set priorities, delegate responsibility, monitor
performance, allocate resources, provide guidance and support, and
act as a mentor for team members.

Most organisations should be familiar with such principles of project


management. [8]
7.2

Change management

Many of the projects supported by the DIRKS methodology will inevitably


result in changes to organisational work practices. To help ensure such
changes are accepted it is vital that project managers or sponsors:

keep management and staff informed about the project;

ensure management actively and visibly supports both the design


process and any subsequent changes to current practices, processes
and systems;

regularly inform users and other stakeholders about the nature of


planned changes and their likely impact on processes and procedures;
and

market change by emphasising the key benefits and improvements


that can be expected once particular changes have been implemented.

The importance of developing a change management framework for each


project, as well as for the specific activities in each step, cannot be overstated.
Successfully managing and marketing change is a critical component of
systems development projects. A broad framework for change management
should be developed in the initial planning stage of the project. This should
be used and revised as the project progresses, particularly in Steps E, F
and G.
Organisations seeking further advice on this aspect of project management
may wish to consult the NSW Office of Information Technology
Management of Change guideline.
7.3 Skill requirements

You will require a range of expertise for the project. The expertise required
will depend on the scope of the project being undertaken by your
organisation. Each step of the DIRKS methodology contains a section on
resources and prerequisites that specifies the skills and knowledge required
to undertake that particular phase. This expertise may be available in-house
or obtained through the use of consultants.
During the systems development process, your project team is likely to
include:
19

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Users guide

an experienced project manager with financial management, change


management, risk management and interpersonal skills (all steps);

recordkeeping professionals such as archivists and records managers


(all steps);

IT specialists including systems analysts, database managers and


network administrators (Steps A to D, F and G);

corporate governance specialists including auditors, legal


professionals, FOI officers, quality assurance personnel, and privacy
and data protection administrators (Steps C, E, F and H); and

individual staff who have a good knowledge of the organisation and


can represent end users.

Rather than dedicate people with these skills to the project, you may decide
to have a core team that can draw on the skills of others. Organisations
seeking further advice on the specific recordkeeping knowledge and skills
required to carry out projects of this type are encourage to consult the
recordkeeping competency standards within the Business Services Training
Package published by the Australian National Training Authority (2001).
7.4

Documentation methods and tools

Like any systems design project, the DIRKS methodology will generate
significant amounts of documentation. This information can be reused
throughout the project and for different projects. It is important to consider
how you will manage the documentation to allow for the efficient re-use of
information.
Each step in DIRKS provides information on what documentation will be
generated. Templates are provided to assist in this. The National Archives
has also developed the DIRKS documentation database to help organisations
manage the information gathered for Steps A, B and C.
Regardless of the method you choose to record your findings, it is advisable
to:

record information as you obtain it;

record the information in a systematic and consistent way (eg


template, graphics, database);

choose a style that can be understood by others (eg avoid jargon); and

organise and store the information so that it remains meaningful and


accessible over time.

While organisations can manage their information in any way considered


appropriate, the National Archives requires certain information to assist in
assessing and authorising business classification schemes and records
disposal authorities. If you are developing either of these tools, please
consider the documentation requirements outlined in Appendix 8 Procedures
for developing a records disposal authority in the Commonwealth.
20

National Archives of Australia

7.5

DIRKS manual Users guide

Technical options

If your project is likely to involve significant technical work, it is prudent to


consider different options early in the project, though final decisions will not
be made until the later steps. Technical options may include:

developing, from scratch, a tailored recordkeeping system in-house


(integrating records management software);

tendering out the development of a tailored recordkeeping system


(integrating records management software);

incorporating recordkeeping functionality into existing organisational


processes and products;

adding recordkeeping functionality to the organisations existing


electronic document management system;

selecting records management software off-the-shelf; and

combining the purchase of some elements with the building of others


to meet specific organisational needs.

Given such options, organisations may choose to:

establish an in-house multi-disciplinary project team;

release a request for tender to obtain development assistance from


external consultants and/or vendor firms;

engage one or more consultants to do some or all of the developmental


work; and/or

select and purchase a suitable product.

MONITORING AND EVALUATION


DIRKS A Strategic Approach to Managing Business Information, is based on the
exposure draft, Designing and Implementing Recordkeeping Systems: A Manual
for Commonwealth Agencies released in February 2000. It also incorporates and
replaces Appraisal Guidelines for Commonwealth Records. The review of the
exposure draft drew on experience gained in the implementation of the
methodology and feedback from professionals who have used the manual.
The National Archives encourages organisations, recordkeeping
professionals, IT professionals and other interested parties to provide
feedback on this version of the manual in the light of their own needs, and
provide comments on its usefulness and useability. We will seek to
continually improve the product and incorporate feedback into future
versions. Comments should be sent to the Assistant Director, Recordkeeping
Standards and Policy, email: recordkeeping@naa.gov.au.

21

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DIRKS manual Users guide

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND COPYRIGHT


The DIRKS manual was initiated by the then Archives Authority of New
South Wales as part of its Electronic Recordkeeping Project, shortly after the
release of Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management. It became
a joint partnership in early 1998 when the Archives Authority and the
National Archives of Australia agreed to collaborate on its development and
an exposure draft was released in February 2000. The National Archives of
Australia carried out a review and revision of the exposure draft during
2001.
The National Archives of Australia would like to thank staff members of the
Archives and of State Records Authority of New South Wales who
contributed to the development and revision of the manual and of the
Appraisal Guidelines for Commonwealth Records. We would also like to thank
agencies and consultants who shared their knowledge and experience with
us.
Copyright in the DIRKS manual is held jointly by the National Archives of
Australia and the State Records Authority of New South Wales.
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the
Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without prior
written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and
inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be directed to
Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia, PO Box 7425,
Canberra Mail Centre ACT 2610 Australia.

ENDNOTES
1.

E Turban, E McLean and J Wetherbe, Information Technology for Management:


Improving Quality and Productivity, Wiley, New York, 1996, p. 408.

2.

International Standard ISO 15489, Records Management, Part 3: Terms and


definitions, Clause 3.15.

3.

International Standard ISO 15489, Records Management, Part 4: Benefits of


records management

4.

These terms are drawn from clause 7.2 of ISO 15489, Records Management,
published by the International Standards Organization. Agencies are
encouraged to refer to the standard for more detailed information on the
characteristics of records and recordkeeping systems. State Records NSW
has also issued a Standard on full and accurate records (April 1998) that is
based on AS4390 and designed for use in the NSW public sector.

5.

The definitions of these processes are based on clause 4.3 of the Technical
report to accompany ISO 15489, Records Management, published by the
International Standards Organization. Agencies are encouraged to refer to
the report for more detailed information on record processes.

6.

Examples of functional specifications developed for other jurisdictions


include the Public Record Office (UK) Functional requirements for electronic
22

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DIRKS manual Users guide

records management systems (November 1999) and the NSW Department of


Public Works and Services Request for tender No. ITS2323 for the supply of
records and information management systems (March 2001).
7.

Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 3: Strategies,


Clause 5.3, see also DIRKS manual, Step B and Step C.

8.

For an introduction to planning recordkeeping projects, see Bernadette Bean,


A project plan, in Judith Ellis (ed.), Selected Essays in Electronic Recordkeeping
in Australia, Australian Society of Archivists, Canberra, 2000.

23

PART 2
STEPS AH

September 2001

STEP A
PRELIMINARY
INVESTIGATION
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy Statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step A

CONTENTS

A.1

WHAT IS A PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION?

A.2

BENEFITS OF THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION

A.3

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES

A.4

DOING THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION

A.5

A.4.1 Determine the scope of the investigation


A.4.2 Collect information from documentary sources and interviews
A.4.3 Document your research
A.4.4 Prepare a report
Figure 2 Types of documentary sources

6
8
10
10
9

ISSUES

11

A.5.1
A.5.2

11
11

Housekeeping functions
Defining the boundaries of your organisations

A.6

CHECKLIST

12

A.7

WHATS NEXT

13

ENDNOTE

13

National Archives of Australia

A.1

DIRKS manual Step A

WHAT IS A PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION?


The purpose of Step A is to identify and document the role of your
organisation, its structure, the business, regulatory and sociopolitical
environments in which it operates, and major factors affecting its
recordkeeping practices. It provides the opportunity to conduct some
preliminary research and consultation within your organisation about
recordkeeping issues and to identify particular problem or risk areas. It will
provide crucial contextual information about factors that influence your
organisations need to create and maintain records. To complete Step A you
need to:

A.2

determine the scope of the preliminary investigation (Section A.4.1);

collect information from documentary sources and interviews (Section


A.4.2);

document your research (Section A.4.3); and

prepare a report for senior management (Section A.4.4).

BENEFITS OF THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION


By completing a preliminary investigation you will have:

an understanding of your organisation and the administrative, legal,


business and social contexts in which it operates;

a general appreciation of your organisations recordkeeping strengths


and weaknesses; and

a sound basis for defining the scope of your organisations


recordkeeping project and presenting a business case for managerial
support.

This information is vital for making effective decisions about your


organisations recordkeeping systems and specific recordkeeping activities. It
will help you define recordkeeping problems within your organisation, and
ensure that proposed solutions are based on a firm understanding of the
organisation and its environment.
This information will be clearly documented in:

a list of sources and accompanying notes that will contribute to Steps B


and C;

an organisation context document containing information about your


organisations business and environment;

a report for senior management explaining the major findings of your


preliminary investigation and recommendations on the scope, conduct
and feasibility of the proposed recordkeeping project; and

a project plan that accompanies the report.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step A

See Part 1 Section 7.4 for an overview of documentation.


A template, Appendix 5 Organisation context document, is provided or the
information can be captured in the DIRKS documentation database.
The information gathered during Step A provides a useful snapshot of your
organisations business activity and major stakeholders. It can serve as a
fixed point of reference for subsequent recordkeeping projects or be
maintained in a form that allows changes to the organisations operating
environment, stakeholder interests, and sources of information to be
incorporated as they occur, thereby providing a consolidated up-to-date
reference.
Step A is an essential precursor to the compilation of a business classification
scheme (Step B) and the preparation of a functions-based records disposal
authority (Steps B and C). In conjunction with Steps B and C, the preliminary
investigation will also help you assess your organisations responsibility for
recordkeeping and its compliance with external recordkeeping requirements.
It is a useful basis for assessing your existing systems (Step D).
Further information about Step A and the disposal authorisation process is
provided in Appendix 8 Procedures for developing a records disposal authority
in the Commonwealth.
A.3

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES


The initial analytical steps of DIRKS (Steps A to C) are resource intensive.
Your organisation will need to invest time and personnel in these steps to
provide a sound basis for subsequent recordkeeping design and
implementation activities.
Before starting Step A you should:

establish a need within your organisation to investigate its


recordkeeping system(s) or undertake particular activities (such as
functional appraisal);

ensure that you have managerial support to undertake at least the


preliminary investigation (depending on the anticipated scope of the
project, it may be prudent to obtain in-principle support for Steps A to
C before proceeding); and

decide whether you will undertake parts of Step D Assessment of


existing systems concurrently with the preliminary investigation to
gain a better insight into your organisations existing technological
environment.

In order to conduct the preliminary investigation you will need:

access to internal documentary sources such as annual reports,


corporate plans and business plans;

access to external documentary sources such as legislation, standards


and codes of practice;
5

National Archives of Australia

A.4

DIRKS manual Step A

access to personnel with high-level knowledge of the organisation; and

personnel with analytical skills, oral and written communication skills


and a broad knowledge of the organisation. Such personnel may be
drawn from within your own organisation or engaged as consultants
to undertake the project on your organisations behalf.

DOING THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION


The preliminary investigation provides a structured approach for analysing
and documenting the context of your organisation, its business activity and
recordkeeping practices. The amount of fundamental research that you
undertake in this step will depend on the level of corporate knowledge and
the availability and currency of pre-existing reports on relevant facets of the
organisation. External consultants unfamiliar with your organisation are
likely to draw heavily on source material during the analysis phase, while inhouse personnel may tend to rely more on their own knowledge.

A.4.1 Determine the scope of the investigation

During the preliminary investigation you will need to identify:

the boundaries of your organisation (see Section A.5.2);

the legal framework that impinges upon the operations of your


organisation;

the internal and external stakeholders whose interests your


organisation must take into account;

the business, social and ethical standards the community expects your
organisation to meet;

the type of work carried out by your organisation;

your organisations corporate culture; and

factors affecting your organisations recordkeeping practices.

The series of questions included in the organisation context document


(Appendix 5) will help focus your research and provide a framework for
documenting your findings. Answering each question and providing a
source for each answer will create a concise body of information about the
organisation to draw on in future steps or other recordkeeping projects. You
may cite pre-existing reports or personal knowledge as sources where you
consider that these are sufficient, but you should provide adequate
information to enable every source to be identified and accessed again.
Compiling documentation in a consistent format will also avoid unnecessary
duplication of effort at subsequent steps in the DIRKS process or future
recordkeeping projects.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step A

A.4.1.1 Stakeholders
Stakeholders can be broadly defined as those people and organisations who
may affect, be affected by or perceive themselves to be affected by a decision
or activity. [1] Stakeholders are both internal, such as the business units and
employees of the organisation, and external. External stakeholders include
clients, customers, public lobby groups, business partners, regulators and
those regulated by the organisation.
As part of the preliminary investigation, it is necessary to identify your
organisations stakeholders. Stakeholders are of particular importance for the
appraisal and disposal aspects of a recordkeeping system and can be a source
of recordkeeping requirements (Step C). It is important to consider not only
your organisations interest in the stakeholders but the stakeholders
expectations of your organisation. They are part of your business and social
context and may be a source of accountability requirements and
expectations.
Information collected on stakeholders will be referred to in future steps.
A.4.1.2 Critical factors affecting recordkeeping
During the preliminary investigation it is important to identify critical factors
that may affect recordkeeping within your organisation. Your research may
reveal some factors that promote good practices as well as other factors that
are detrimental and create barriers. To assess your organisations strengths
and weaknesses you will need to consider its strategic awareness, attitude to
risk, technological environment and existing recordkeeping practices.
The organisation context document contains questions that will help you
make this assessment. Appendix 11 Risk analysis in DIRKS may also
provide some assistance in identifying critical factors. The understanding
that you gain from this process will help you choose appropriate strategies
and tactics in later steps of the DIRKS methodology.
A.4.1.3 Corporate culture analysis
While many of the matters that you need to investigate will be revealed by
your sources, others may be more difficult to identify and evaluate. An
appreciation of your organisations corporate culture will help you more
fully understand why and how your organisation operates as it does.
An organisations corporate culture or personality is the set of values,
attitudes and beliefs shared by its members. It emerges from long-established
practices, procedures, structures and systems. The terms used to characterise
the way we do things around here (for example, hierarchical, laissezfaire, regimented) are often indicative of an organisations culture.
If you are undertaking the preliminary investigation in-house you are likely
to be familiar with the organisational culture. However, consultants working
on your organisations behalf will need to learn about the character of your
organisation through interviews, by monitoring business processes and by
observing officers at work. Some of the documentary sources, such as vision,
7

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DIRKS manual Step A

mission and value statements, together with organisational structures and


performance appraisal mechanisms may also provide useful information for
analysing the corporate culture. Interviews, particularly with long-term
employees, are also a useful source. The organisation context document
(Appendix 5) contains questions that will help you assess your organisations
corporate culture.
Strategies for better recordkeeping, including the design and implementation
of new systems, are likely to require changes in corporate behaviour. Given
that such behaviour is the product of established practices, procedures,
structures and processes, it is important to consider what threats and
opportunities the prevailing culture poses. These factors may affect the
feasibility of your proposed recordkeeping project and should be addressed
in your final report for this step. They will be revisited during Step E. See
Appendix 12 Recordkeeping feasibility analysis and Part 1, Section 7.2
Change management.
A.4.2 Collect information from documentary sources and interviews

Before starting your research, check if your organisation has recently


participated in other projects involving corporate analysis (such as business
process re-engineering, risk assessment, or strategic planning). Such projects
may provide much of the information required for the preliminary
investigation and reduce the need for further fundamental research.
If you are unable to complete the organisation context document on the basis
of this material or your own corporate knowledge you will need to gather
information from documentary sources and interviews. Possible internal and
external sources are described below.
A.4.2.1 Documentary sources
Key sources that provide a good starting point for your preliminary
investigation include:

annual reports;

organisational charts;

strategic plans (eg corporate plans, business plans and related


planning documents);

legislation, ministerial statements and media releases regarding the


establishment of your organisation;

policies and procedures;

your organisations existing records and recordkeeping systems; and

publications targeting the interests of particular stakeholders.

Most of the sources listed above are produced by your organisation, and may
be accessible online through your organisations internet or intranet facilities.
However, to fully understand the business, regulatory and sociopolitical

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step A

context in which your organisation operates you will need to look beyond its
boundaries. There are many types of external sources that will provide
important contextual information. Some of the more important sources are:

reports and guidelines issued by audit, complaints-handling or other


investigative bodies; and

standards, codes of practice and protocols that are relevant to your


organisations business.

Many of these sources are available online. Further information about these
internal and external sources and the information they contain is provided in
Appendix 1 Guide to documentary sources.

A.4.2.2 Interviews
The purpose of consulting staff in Step A is to validate the information you
have gathered from the documentary sources regarding your organisations
context, its culture and its recordkeeping strengths and weaknesses. It can
also provide information on areas of the business or culture that are not
otherwise documented. Consultation can occur through interviews with
individual officers or workshops with selected staff. It is important to
confirm with staff that you are using current sources and to seek their advice
on other sources that you may have overlooked.
9

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step A

For further information about the interview process, see Appendix 2 Guide
to interviews and Appendix 3 Interview questions.
A.4.3 Document your research

Documenting your research in a structured fashion will help you explain


your preliminary investigation findings to senior management, substantiate
your recommendations, provide a foundation for other steps, and serve as a
reference document for future recordkeeping projects.
During the information-gathering phase it is useful to compile:

a register of all sources used; and

a set of notes for each source (documentary or interview).

A number of templates are provided to help you document your research.


Separate templates are provided for Acts of Parliament, Statutory rules and
regulations and Other sources including interviews. These templates allow
you to use the same forms to compile source information relating to the
analysis of business activity (Step B) and identification of recordkeeping
requirements (Step C). A suggested template for summarising your research,
Appendix 5 Organisation context document, is also provided. The DIRKS
documentation database can also be used for documenting your research.
Regardless of the format that you choose to document your research, it is
helpful to arrange your notes so that they clearly indicate which source and
which step(s) in the DIRKS process they relate to. As mentioned earlier,
many of the sources used during the preliminary investigation will be used
again to analyse your organisations business activities (Step B) and identify
recordkeeping requirements (Step C). Keep copies of source documents so
that you can refer to them later on.
A.4.4 Prepare a report

At the conclusion of the preliminary investigation you should have collected


enough information to identify:

your organisations business activity;

major stakeholders;

the type of business risks that your organisation is exposed to;

perceptions of the role recordkeeping plays in your organisation;

strengths and weaknesses of recordkeeping and information systems;

level of management commitment to recordkeeping activities;

options for conducting the remainder of the project; and

resources required for proposed projects.

Using the organisation context document as the basis for your report will
enable you to write up the findings of your preliminary investigation.
10

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step A

Depending on the level of senior management support gained and the


amount of scoping undertaken before the project commenced, the report may
canvas issues, options and recommendations to management on the scope of
the proposed recordkeeping project, perhaps in the form of a business case or
feasibility study. This manual includes guidelines to help you assess the
feasibility of recordkeeping projects (financial, technical and operational
feasibility) and guidelines on preparing a business case. Part 1, Section 6
Pathways for using DIRKS outlines a range of recordkeeping projects for
which the DIRKS methodology can be used.
Once a decision has been made about the scope and conduct of the project, a
detailed project plan, drawing on relevant steps in the DIRKS process, can be
developed.
If a decision had been made on the nature of the project prior to commencing
Step A, the information gathered during the step should now be used to
revise the project plan and highlight any issues or areas of concern that had
not previously been identified.
A.5

ISSUES

A.5.1 Housekeeping functions

During the preliminary investigation, most organisations will not need


to consider common housekeeping functions such as financial
management, occupational health and safety, personnel, and
property management. These functions are identified and defined in Keyword
AAA: Thesaurus of General Terms Commonwealth Version. Advice on the
disposal of records related to these general administrative functions can be
found in Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA) produced by
the National Archives of Australia. At later stages in the DIRKS process you
will need to ensure that your recordkeeping system creates, captures and
manages these common housekeeping records, including disposal according
to AFDA requirements.
You will need to establish whether your organisation has a special role or
responsibility for administering one of the generic functions, eg Comcare has
responsibility for the Occupational Health and Safety function on behalf of
the Commonwealth under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act
1988. If this is the case for your agency, the function must be included in the
preliminary investigation and later stages.
A.5.2 Defining the boundaries of your organisation

When carrying out the preliminary investigation, it is necessary to determine


the boundaries of your organisation. Sometimes these can be fluid,
particularly for portfolio departments. An example of this is when
departments carry out secretariat activities for councils, committees, boards
etc. Although they are closely linked to a department and have departmental
officers carrying out tasks for them, they are separate organisations because

11

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step A

they were established independently by ministerial decision or legislation.


Questions that can help determine organisational boundaries include:

Was it established for a particular purpose by legislation or ministerial


decision?

Is the entity a department, statutory authority or executive agency?

Is the entity a court?

Is the entity a corporation or association?

Is the entity a ministerial council, committee, board, trust or tribunal


that is generally thought of as independent in regard to the exercise of
its substantive role, eg for accountability, procedural or political
reasons?

Does it operate autonomously?

Does it have an identified head or chief executive officer?

Does it have administrative cohesion with respect to work planning


and budget arrangements?

Does it report independently to the minister or to the Parliament?

Does it have a separate recordkeeping system?

Does it have the power to make its own recordkeeping arrangements,


if it so wishes?

If the answer is yes to one or more questions, the entity is probably a


separate organisation.
Under the Archives Act and regulations, disposal arrangements must be
authorised by a senior officer of each Commonwealth organisation. Frequent
administrative rearrangements also mean that two organisations that are
closely linked at present may be separate in the future. For these reasons it is
important to understand the boundaries of your organisation.
A.6

CHECKLIST
Before proceeding further check that you have:

12

compiled an annotated list of the sources that you have used;

completed the organisation context document provided (or prepared a


similar document) to collate your findings;

prepared a report for senior management explaining the major


findings of your preliminary investigation and making
recommendations on the scope, conduct and feasibility of the proposed
recordkeeping project; and

prepared a project plan to accompany the report to senior


management.

National Archives of Australia

A.7

DIRKS manual Step A

WHATS NEXT?
After completing Step A you may now move on to Step B Analysis of
business activity.
Commonwealth organisations intending to develop a functions-based
records disposal authority should check the National Archives
documentation requirements for this stage in Appendix 8 Procedures for
developing a records disposal authority in the Commonwealth before
progressing with Step B.

ENDNOTE
1.

Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 43601999, Risk Management


1.3.32.

13

STEP B ANALYSIS
OF BUSINESS
ACTIVITY
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy Statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step B

CONTENTS

B.1

WHAT IS AN ANALYSIS OF BUSINESS ACTIVITY?

B.2

BENEFITS OF ANALYSING YOUR BUSINESS ACTIVITY

B.3

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES

B.4

DOING AN ANALYSIS OF BUSINESS ACTIVITY

B.4.1
B.4.2

7
8

B.4.3
B.4.4
B.4.5
B.4.6
B.4.7

B.5

Collect information from documentary sources and interviews


Identify and document each business function, activity
and transaction
Develop a business classification scheme
Stakeholders
Assess risk
Record your findings
Validate the analysis

13
15
15
16
16

Figure 3 Analysis of business activity


Table 1 Example of a business classification scheme

7
14

ISSUES

16

B.5.1
B.5.2
B.5.3

16
17
17

Defining the scope of your analysis


Defining the scale of functions and activities
Maintaining the currency of your analysis

B.6

CHECKLIST

18

B.7

WHATS NEXT?

18

ENDNOTES

18

National Archives of Australia

B.1

DIRKS manual Step B

WHAT IS AN ANALYSIS OF BUSINESS ACTIVITY?


The purpose of Step B is to develop a conceptual model of what your
organisation does and how it does it by examining its business activities and
processes. This analysis will provide the core foundation for the
development of recordkeeping tools and will contribute to the decisions
made regarding the creation, capture, control, storage, disposal and access of
records in subsequent steps. This is particularly important in an electronic
business environment where the connection between an organisation and its
records is logical, rather than physical, in nature.
This step provides advice on how to undertake and document the business
analysis in a systematic and meaningful way and to make best use of its
results. To complete Step B you need to:

B.2

collect information from documentary sources and interviews (Section


B.4.1);

analyse the work performed by the organisation (Section B.4);

identify and document each business function, activity and transaction


(Section B.4.2);

develop a business classification scheme based on a hierarchy of


business functions, activities and transactions (Section B.4.3); and

validate the analysis of the organisations business activity with senior


management (Section B.4.7).

BENEFITS OF ANALYSING YOUR BUSINESS ACTIVITY


The analysis of business activity provides the core conceptual basis for
developing recordkeeping tools. At the end of Step B you will have:

an understanding of the relationship between your organisations


business and the records that are a by-product and evidence of its
activities; and

a foundation for developing tools and other mechanisms to establish


corporate control over recordkeeping, including thesaurus
development, preparation of disposal authorities, identification and
specification of recordkeeping requirements, and the formal
assignment of recordkeeping responsibilities.

This will be documented in:

the function source document (Appendix 7) or report from the DIRKS


documentation database, detailing your organisations functions,
activities and transactions; and

a business classification scheme that shows the organisations


functions, activities and transactions in a hierarchical relationship.

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DIRKS manual Step B

The business classification scheme is used to link records to their business


context. This is a key requirement for making and capturing full and
accurate records. The scheme, in conjunction with the recordkeeping
requirements identified in Step C, provides the basis for developing two
crucial records management tools:

B.3

A thesaurus of terms or records classification scheme to control the


language for titling and indexing records in a specific business context.
Such classification tools can be used alone or can be supplemented by
other indexing and retrieval tools. Further information on classification
tools is provided in Part 1, Section 6 Pathways for using DIRKS.

A disposal authority that defines the retention periods and consequent


disposal actions for various classes of records. Further information on
the preparation of disposal authorities is provided in Appendix 8
Procedures for developing a records disposal authority in the
Commonwealth.

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES


Analysing your organisations business activity is a rigorous and resourceintensive process. You must undertake this step if you intend to develop
classification tools (such as a functions thesaurus or records classification
scheme) or a functions-based records disposal authority for current
recordkeeping purposes. These recordkeeping products are also required for
later steps in the DIRKS process, notably design (Step F Design of a
recordkeeping system) and implementation (Step G Implementation of a
recordkeeping system).
Before starting Step B you should:

have a general understanding of your organisation and the contexts in


which it operates (Step A);

have a general appreciation of the organisations recordkeeping


strengths and weaknesses (Step A);

obtain managerial support to undertake the analysis of business


activity; and

determine whether your organisation has previously analysed and


documented its business activities and processes.

In order to conduct the analysis of business activity you will need:

access to internal and external documentary sources and information


gathered through the interview process (these sources of information
may also have been used in Step A); and

personnel with analytical skills (including a familiarity with modelling


techniques), oral and written communication skills and a broad
knowledge of the organisation such personnel may be drawn from
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DIRKS manual Step B

within your own organisation or engaged as consultants to undertake


the project on your organisation's behalf.
Step B may be carried out concurrently with parts of Step C Identification
of recordkeeping requirements as the same sources are used. Ensure that you
are also familiar with Step C before commencing Step B. You will find that
during your research to identify functions, activities and transactions,
recordkeeping requirements are also identified. A single template, Appendix
7 Function source document or the DIRKS documentation database, can be
used to record your findings for Steps B and C.
B.4

DOING AN ANALYSIS OF BUSINESS ACTIVITY


The objective of this step is to establish a model, or representation, of the
business activities carried out by your organisation. While varying
approaches can be used to develop this model, it should be noted that the
analysis is an iterative process with the development of a final product
usually being the result of many revisions.
Two types of analysis are useful for identifying functions, activities and
transactions. Hierarchical analysis involves a top-down approach of
identifying what your organisation does and breaking it down into a series
of logical parts and sub-parts. Process analysis is a bottom-up approach of
examining in more detail how your organisation does its business. [1] The
recommended approach outlined below draws on both types of analysis.
In order to conduct an analysis of your organisations business activity you
will need to identify:

your organisations goals and the strategies to achieve these goals;

the broad functions the organisation undertakes to support its goals


and strategies;

the activities that contribute to the fulfilment of the organisations


functions; and

the groups of recurring transactions or processes that make up each of


these activities.

If your organisation has been analysed for other purposes it may be possible
to draw on the results of such work, rather than starting from scratch.
Projects that may involve an analysis of business activity include:

business process re-engineering;

imaging and work flow automation;

development of a records titling thesaurus or classification tool;

activity-based costing or management;

quality accreditation; and

systems implementation.

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DIRKS manual Step B

If the analysis arising from such projects is available, you will need to
consider how, why and when the projects were undertaken to determine
whether their findings are applicable for recordkeeping purposes.
You may already have an existing classification scheme developed to
support an organisational thesaurus or related classification tools. This step
is an opportunity to review that scheme to ensure it is still current and
relevant for recordkeeping. If you wish to use terms from an existing
classification scheme it will be necessary to research the basis of this scheme
to judge its relevance and to assist with Step C.

B.4.1 Collect information from documentary sources and interviews

Use the register of sources (question 22 in Appendix 5 Organisation context


document) compiled in Step A as a starting place for your research. Many of
these sources will be pertinent to the analysis of your organisations business
activity. These include internally generated sources such as mission
statements, corporate plans, annual reports, organisational charts, policy
statements, procedure manuals, information systems documentation, records
and forms, as well as external sources such as legislation, regulations,
instructions and circulars. Legislation is a particularly important source for
this step as it can indicate when your organisation has a legal responsibility
to perform particular functions, activities or tasks. For further information
about documentary sources, see Appendix 1 Guide to documentary
sources. Although you will refer to many of the same sources during Steps

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DIRKS manual Step B

A, B and C, it is important to note that you are seeking different information


from the sources and working towards different outcomes for each step.
In addition to the documentary sources, you should also consult personnel
associated with the functions and activities you are investigating, both to
gain information and to verify your other research. Consultation can occur in
a variety of ways, including the use of questionnaires, interviews and focus
groups. For further information about conducting interviews, see Appendix
2 Guide to interviews. Interviews with middle management can provide
higher-level contextual information about functions. Focus groups or
interviews with action officers may help with identifying activities and
analysing transactions.
Use the Acts of Parliament, Statutory rules and Other sources templates
provided in Appendix 4 Source identification forms, or design your own
templates to document the sources that you have consulted in this step. If
you are using new sources that were not used in Step A, including additional
interviews or focus groups, remember to add them to the register of sources
prepared in Step A.
B.4.2 Identify and document each business function, activity and
transaction

The analytical process starts with a big picture view of your organisations
business activity and breaks it down into more detailed parts. These
component parts (or entities) are referred to in descending order as the
organisations functions, activities and transactions.

Functions are the largest unit of business activity in an organisation.


[2] They represent the major responsibilities that are managed by the
organisation to fulfil its goals. Functions are high-level aggregates of
the organisations activities.

Activities are the major tasks performed by the organisation to


accomplish each of its functions. Several activities may be associated
with each function.

Transactions are the smallest unit of business activity. [3] They should
be tasks, not subjects or record types. Transactions will help define the
scope or boundaries of activities and provide the basis for identifying,
in detail in Step C, the records that are required to meet the business
needs of the organisation. The identification of transactions will also
help in the formulation of the records description part of a records
disposal authority.

The following example shows the relationship between these entities.

Function
Publication the function of having works, irrespective of format,
issued for sale or general distribution internally or to the public.

Activity
Drafting the activities associated with preparing preliminary drafts

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DIRKS manual Step B

or outlines of addresses, reports, plans, sketches, etc prior to


publication.

Transaction(s)
Create draft copies of publications, website and/or intranet text with
associated metadata; distribute drafts for comment; file comments
made on these drafts.

There are also many higher level functions that exist outside the boundaries
of your organisation, known as ambient functions. [4] These ambient
functions provide the broader social context in which an organisation's
business functions are performed. You may or may not wish to map your
organisations functions to the ambient functions. If you do so, you should
use the Australian Governments Interactive Functions Thesaurus (AGIFT), a
national cross-jurisdictional thesaurus of government functions.
The following steps are a recommended approach to identifying your
organisation's functions, activities and transactions. Each step may be
revisited many times.

Use the sources to identify broad statements of your organisations


purpose, goals and strategies. Look at the organisations charter,
mission and objectives to get an overview. Consider what makes the
organisation unique.

Conceptualise the broad functions of the organisation. Functions are


generally not based on organisational structures because they are more
stable than administrative units, which are often amalgamated or
devolved in restructures. Functions can also be dispersed across
structural components of an organisation. After identifying your
organisations functions, check that each is of a similar complexity and
does not fit within another function. Notice if functions overlap. Test
against the organisational structure to ensure all aspects of the
organisations business are covered.

Use the sources to identify the component activities within each


function. As with functions, check that each activity is of a similar
complexity and does not fit within another activity. Notice if activities
overlap. An activity should be based on a cohesive grouping of
transactions producing a singular outcome. For example, the
transactions under the activity of policy may be draft policy, circulate
for comments, receive comments, finalise policy, seek approval, and
promulgate the policy. It is a cohesive group that results in the
production of a policy. Activities should not be based on how records
are currently kept, eg as a case, project or event file. Such files might
comprise many activities and represent a legitimate way to maintain
the record, but the analysis of business activities should represent the
component parts.

Identify the transactions associated with each activity. This can be


done through written sources, workshops and interviews or by
analysing work processes examining in detail the process involved in
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DIRKS manual Step B

carrying out work. Identifying the transactions will assist in testing


and finalising the boundaries of activities.

Test your preliminary analysis in interviews and workshops with


relevant staff members. Revisit the top-level functions and refine them
in light of subsequent analysis.

Revisit and refine the remaining levels of the hierarchy.

Although this analysis involves a top-down approach, it is not essential that


you finalise the highest level of the hierarchy before moving on to its lower
levels. Indeed, identifying transactions will help define the boundaries of
activities and therefore the scope of functions. The examination of sources
will often provide information that is relevant to a number of levels and you
should expect to revisit each level several times in order to refine and
enhance the model.
You may wish to conduct interviews early in the process or, alternatively,
prepare a detailed analysis using documentary sources before conducting
workshops to further refine and test the analysis. It is useful to have at least a
rough outline of functions, to generate discussion, before holding workshops
or interviews.
It is possible that you will identify activities during your examination of
sources that are not carried out in practice by the organisation. These
activities should be documented, including reasons why they are not being
fulfilled.
B.4.2.1 Assigning terms to functions and activities
As part of your analysis it will be necessary to choose terms that can
represent the functions and activities you have identified. To some extent,
the choice of terms will depend on the way in which you have defined the
entity types, such as function, activity or transaction. In some cases the
terminology will be very specific to your organisations business (such as
regulating government recordkeeping) while, in other cases, the
terminology may be specific to your industry sector rather than your
particular business (for example mineral development). Care should be
taken to choose terms that are relevant to your organisation.
To avoid confusion, you should describe your organisations unique business
functions using terms that are different from the terms used in the
Commonwealth version of Keyword AAA to describe administrative
functions common to many organisations. This will enable you to create an
unambiguous and integrated business classification scheme by merging the
terms describing your specific business functions with the terms in Keyword
AAA describing generic functions.
Further practical advice for using Keyword AAA function and activity terms
in agency business classification schemes is available in Appendix 6
Practical advice for using Keyword AAA terms in agency business
classification schemes.

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You may also wish to consult AGIFT to determine whether any of its
function terms are appropriate to your organisations needs. AGIFT contains
24 ambient function terms and more than 500 lower level function terms
covering Commonwealth government functions, as well as functions of other
government jurisdictions. Appendix 6 Practical advice for using Keyword
AAA terms provides further advice.
B.4.2.2 Defining the scope of functions and activities
It is necessary to define the boundaries or scope of each function or activity
and define the relationships between described entities, making sure that the
entities at the same level do not overlap. Scope notes define the meaning of a
particular term, or combination of terms, and guide users on how such terms
should be applied. They should not be wordy explanations. Precision,
consistency and clarity are important. A scope note should:

state what the term covers;

state what the term does not cover; and

provide references to other lower level terms.

Without scope notes, there may be different interpretations of terms across


the organisation, rather than shared meanings.
Scope notes will start as quite tentative statements or even dot points, and
then be revised as you refine your definition of each entity. Scope notes for
both functions and activities should always reflect the subordinate
components. As a rule of thumb, the scope of an activity should encompass
the transactions identified as part of the activity, and the scope of a function
should encompass the activities constituting the function. For example, the
function term Publication from the Commonwealth version of Keyword
AAA is defined as:
the function of having works, irrespective of format, issued for sale or
general distribution internally or to the public. Includes drafting,
manual or electronic production (design, layout, typesetting, printing
etc) marketing, and supply of publications by the organisation
The scope note includes some of the narrower activity terms such as
distribution, drafting, marketing and production to describe the breadth of
the function. However, not all of the activities for the function are included in
the scope note. For example, routine processes associated with many
functions, such as enquiries, planning, procedures, reporting, research and
reviewing are omitted. The specific inclusion of narrower terms to define the
boundaries of the broader term will vary but, at the very least, should guide
the composition of the scope note.
In some cases, activity terms are linked to many function terms. The scope
notes for these activity terms need to be generic if they are to be linked to
more than one term. For example, the Commonwealth version of Keyword
AAA allows the activity descriptor Data administration to be used under
both the Information management and Technology and
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DIRKS manual Step B

telecommunications functions. The scope note describes Data


administration as the activities associated with maintaining and using the
data that is held in a system, either automated or manual. Includes the
maintenance of data dictionaries. However, the functional context (scope)
enables a clear delineation between those activities related to:

copying information from one medium to another, such as scanning


paper documents into an electronic system, or copying documents
from a floppy disk to a CD-ROM (Information management); and

migrating data between electronic systems and from one electronic


medium to another (Technology and telecommunications).

The scope note of the broader term will determine whether or not the broad
term is appropriate in the circumstances rather than the scope note for the
narrower term. However, both scope notes are critical to defining the
purpose and application of the combined function and activity set of terms.
To avoid confusion, it is usual to start a function scope note with The
function of and an activity scope note with The activities associated with
Keyword AAA can be used as a model when preparing scope notes.
Scope notes should not include references to specific record types, eg
application forms.
B.4.2.3 Assigning dates to functions and activities
Dates should be assigned to your functions and activities. These dates
establish a time frame, which will be useful for the development and
application of the linked recordkeeping tools such as a thesaurus and
disposal authority.
A start date, whether for a function or activity, must be supported by an
appropriate source, such as legislation, published histories, interview, early
annual reports or the records themselves. Your research must also establish
that there have been no changes to how the function and related activities
have been carried out over the entire date range you have allocated. For
example, if a piece of legislation has been used to establish a start date for an
activity and this legislation has been amended many times you will need to
research the changes. The results of this research may indicate that you need
to introduce a new activity, or in Step C identify different disposal classes for
the records that were generated in different periods of time.
If early sources are hard to find and it is a low risk function or activity, it may
be safe to assume that the analysis will apply to earlier years. For example, it
is hard to think of a time where the activity Meetings would not be relevant.
An awareness of Australian history can help in identifying if a function may
be of greater public interest for particular points in time. For example,
records created during World War II may be of greater interest than records
created at other times. These historical events may also indicate changes in
whether or how a function was performed.

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DIRKS manual Step B

B.4.3 Develop a business classification scheme

A business classification scheme (BCS) is a hierarchical model of the


relationship between your organisations functions, activities and
transactions. The relationships between the entities at the same level and
between levels should be explained.
The functions, activities and transactions identified through your analysis of
business activity should be represented in a BCS, including scope notes and
date ranges. Indicate whether terms are from Keyword AAA, AGIFT or are
organisation-specific, to assist with any future changes. Functions should be
listed alphabetically and activities alphabetically under each function.
Transactions should also be listed in the function source document
(Appendix 7) or the report from the DIRKS documentation database. The
BCS can also include links and see references to explain the logical structure
and the relationship between entities. This will assist in the development of
related classification tools (such as a functions thesaurus or records
classification scheme).
The layout of the business classification scheme can make it easier to see if
there are any inconsistencies or overlaps in your analysis. You should ensure
that:

an appropriate unit of business activity is selected as the basis for each


function;

each function and activity has a defined scope;

the scope of each function mutually excludes the other functions


(including any common administrative functions covered by Keyword
AAA); and

the combined functions account for all of the business the organisation
carries out.

The number of levels featured in your business classification scheme will


depend on the complexity of the various functions undertaken by your
organisation.
Part of a sample business classification scheme is shown in Table 1. It is
based on a fictitious organisation.

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DIRKS manual Step B

Table 1 Example of a business classification scheme

Organisation: Department of Research


Function

Activity

Experiment design

Design development

Ref No: F1

Ref No: A1

Date range: 1960

Date range:1960

The function of designing


experiments to test scientific
hypotheses. Includes the activities
of research, design development,
testing and review.

The activity of developing designs to test particular


hypotheses. Includes evaluating designs and
assessing the feasibility of using particular
methods. (Organisation BCS)
Design research
Ref No: A2
Date range: 1960
The activity of researching experiment designs. It
includes identifying and evaluating current
practices.
(Organisation BCS)
Design review
Ref No: A3
Date range: 1960
The activity of reviewing experiment designs for
completed experiments. Includes evaluating the
design in relation to the reliability of experimental
data produced.
(Organisation BCS)
Design testing
Ref No: A4
Date range: 1960
The activity of testing experiment designs. It
includes developing the procedures for checking
the rigour of the final design in being able to meet
the requirements of the experiment.
(Organisation BCS)

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DIRKS manual Step B

B.4.4 Stakeholders

As part of analysing the broad legal and social context in the preliminary
investigation (Step A), organisational stakeholders were identified. Link
these stakeholders to the relevant function or activity and include any
stakeholders who have been subsequently identified through the business
analysis. External stakeholders who participate in the work of the
organisation, eg individual clients, client organisations or other
Commonwealth agencies will be revealed through the analysis of activities
and transactions. Other stakeholders may be linked at the functional rather
than activity level, for example, an external consultative group.
In addition to external stakeholders, particular parts of the organisation may
have an interest in the function. These internal stakeholders should be
identified. They will include those areas responsible for carrying out the
function and activities, but may include other areas. For example, within the
National Archives, the Public and Reader Services Branch is an important
stakeholder in the appraisal function. Even though the Branch is not
involved in appraisal work, the outcome of this work affects what will be
available to the public in the future, which is its area of responsibility.
Stakeholders are identified at this point as they often have interests in
records and can be a source of recordkeeping requirements in Step C. They
can also have an impact on the way work is performed within an
organisation. An example of this is when consultation with stakeholder
groups becomes part of routine work processes. In Step B we are examining
the stakeholders interest in the function and activity, that is, in the work
performed. In Step C this interest will be examined in relation to the records
generated by this work.
B.4.5 Assess risk

The risk connected to a function or activity is the risk of events occurring that
expose the organisation to adverse consequences. This may include not being
able to justify a decision or not knowing what decision was made.
Consequences of these events could include financial loss, public
embarrassment or unacceptable delays. Good recordkeeping can often help
reduce these risks. Assessing risk at the functional level assists in prioritising
areas for future analysis and identifying organisational areas that perform
the function as requiring more stringent recordkeeping practices and
training.
Some areas of risk were identified in the preliminary investigation. Link
these risk areas to the relevant function or activity. Source analysis during
this stage may have revealed other areas of risk, for example, legislation may
carry strong penalties for non-compliance in particular areas, or risks may
have been identified in workshops with staff. Use the recordkeeping risk
analysis guidelines to assess the risks of carrying out each function. How
detailed the process will be will depend on your organisational culture with
respect to risk, whether recent organisational risk assessments have been

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DIRKS manual Step B

done, and whether research indicates there is likely to be a high level of risk.
(See Appendix 11 Risk analysis in DIRKS.)
B.4.6 Record your findings

The BCS is a representation of the functions, activities and transactions


carried out by your organisation. For future steps and to justify your
identification of entities, it is also necessary to record your analysis of the
functions, activities and transactions. You should include information on:

legislation or other sources that underpin the functions and activities;

risks associated with each function and activity;

stakeholders that have an interest in the function or activity;

business sections that are responsible for or carry out aspects of the
function; and

changes to the function through time.

Appendix 7 Function source document, or the DIRKS documentation


database provide useful templates to record your findings.
The information gathered, including information on stakeholders and
sources of authority, provide a basis for determining recordkeeping
requirements in Step C.
B.4.7 Validate the analysis

It is important that you consult widely during your analysis of business


activity and that you validate your findings. This will involve asking
managers and operational staff to examine your business model to confirm
that it is accurate and complete. It is essential that your model is meaningful
to the organisation as it will be the basis of identifying key recordkeeping
activities (including intellectual control and appraisal). The analysis and BCS
should also be validated with senior management.
B.5

ISSUES

B.5.1 Defining the scope of your analysis

It is desirable to take an organisation-wide perspective when undertaking an


analysis of business activity. In most cases, functions are carried out across a
number of structural units within an organisation and records that document
activities and transactions associated with these functions may be created in
several different recordkeeping systems. For example, the policy and case
records generated in relation to a function may be created in different offices
using different recordkeeping systems (eg, a correspondence file system and
a case management database). Taking a functional, rather than structural,
approach to your analysis of business activity should provide a complete
understanding of your organisations operations and result in more informed
decision-making about the creation, control and appraisal of its records.

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DIRKS manual Step B

Taking a holistic approach in both Steps A and B will enable you to place
your organisations business activities in context and identify areas of high
risk that may warrant priority in subsequent stages of the design and
implementation process. These areas may correlate to particular
recordkeeping systems, business activities or business units. Within the
Commonwealth, many agencies carry out similar functions, or even parts of
the same function. For example, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and
Airservices Australia work in the same area. Another example is the
Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which coordinates the national search
and rescue function that can involve such agencies as the Department of
Defence and Australian Customs. If this is the case for your organisation, it
may be useful to consult with related agencies when conducting your
analysis in Step B and identifying recordkeeping requirements in Step C. You
may be able to draw on analysis already undertaken by similar
organisations. Such consultation will reduce duplication and enhance
consistency in recordkeeping throughout the Commonwealth. Contact the
National Archives for further advice on this.
It should not be necessary to spend time analysing housekeeping functions,
which are not unique to your organisation (such as financial management,
occupational health and safety, personnel, and property management),
unless you have a special role or responsibility for these functions. Such
common administrative functions are defined in the Commonwealth version
of Keyword AAA and are covered by the Administrative Functions Disposal
Authority (AFDA) produced by the National Archives of Australia.
Nonetheless, you should refer to Keyword AAA once you have completed
the analysis of your organisation's unique functions to ensure that all aspects
of your organisations business activity have been covered. (See Step A,
Section A.5.1 Housekeeping functions.)
B.5.2 Defining the scale of functions and activities

Although the business classification scheme that is derived from hierarchical


analysis is graded into three levels functions, activities and transactions
the scale of these entities is relative rather than absolute. For example, the
Commonwealth version of Keyword AAA uses the separate functions of
Personnel, Staff development and Occupational health and safety instead of
a single, larger function such as Human resources. In most cases, the scale of
each entity will be straightforward, but there may be occasions when you
need to manipulate the scale to create a meaningful and practical business
classification scheme.
B.5.3 Maintaining the currency of your analysis

Analysis of business activity can provide an effective and powerful tool for
managing records. To ensure that your analysis remains relevant to your
organisation's needs, it is prudent to build certain triggers into your
recordkeeping system that will prompt you to periodically review its
currency. Some of these triggers may include administrative change within

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DIRKS manual Step B

the organisation, a government election, or a change in organisational


responsibilities.
B.6

CHECKLIST
Before proceeding further check that you have:

B.7

documented the sources you have used;

documented your organisations functions, activities and transactions;

highlighted business-critical functions using risk assessment


techniques;

prepared a business classification scheme showing the organisations


functions, activities and transactions in a hierarchical relationship; and

validated your findings with senior management.

WHATS NEXT?
After completing Step B you can move on to Step C Identification of
recordkeeping requirements. If you intend to develop classification tools
(such as a functions thesaurus or records classification scheme), this can be
done now, though an understanding of recordkeeping requirements (Step C)
can be of use in developing these tools. For more information see Overview of
classification tools for records management.
Commonwealth organisations intending to develop a functions-based
records disposal authority should check the National Archives
documentation requirements for this stage in Appendix 8 Procedures for
developing a records disposal authority in the Commonwealth, before
progressing with Step C.

ENDNOTES
1.

For further information on analysis techniques see Martin E Modell, A


Professionals Guide to Systems Analysis, 2nd edition, McGraw-Hill, 1996; and
Edward Yourdon, Modern Structured Analysis, Prentice-Hall, 1989.

2.

Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General,


Clause 4.15.

3.

Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General,


Clause 4.27.

4.

For further information on ambient functions see Chris Hurley, Ambient


functions abandoned children to zoos, Archivaria, vol. 40, Fall 1995, pp. 21
39.

18

STEP C
IDENTIFICATION OF
RECORDKEEPING
REQUIREMENTS
September 2001 (rev July 2003)

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy Statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step C

CONTENTS

C.1

WHAT ARE RECORDKEEPING REQUIREMENTS?

C.2

BENEFITS OF IDEN TIFYING YOUR RECORDKEEPING


REQUIREMENTS

C.3

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES

C.4

IDENTIFYING YOUR RECORDKEEPING REQUIREMENTS

C.4.1
C.4.2

C.5

Locate relevant sources


Identify regulatory, business and community requirements
for recordkeeping
C.4.3 Document identified requirements for recordkeeping
C.4.4 Assess the risk of not meeting requirements
C.4.5 Report to management

7
10

Figure 7 Requirements impacting on organisational requirements


Table 1 Sample recordkeeping requirements for IP Australia

7
16

ISSUES

19

C.5.1
C.5.2
C.5.3
C.5.4

19
19
19
20

Drawing on other recordkeeping projects


Maintaining a history of recordkeeping requirements
Using recordkeeping requirements
Recordkeeping requirements for housekeeping functions

13
17
18

C.6

CHECKLIST

20

C.7

WHATS NEXT?

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DIRKS manual Step C

WHAT ARE RECORDKEEPING REQUIREMENTS?


The purpose of Step C is to identify and record your organisations
requirements to make and keep evidence of its business activities and to
document the requirements in a structured and easily maintainable form.
The term evidence is used here in its broadest sense, rather than its narrow
legal meaning. Evidence (in the form of records) helps ensure that
individuals and organisations are accountable to government, courts of law,
shareholders, clients, community interest groups and future generations.
Records also support business processes and continuity, interaction with
clients, quality control and decision-making.
The nature of your organisation and the context in which it operates dictate
what type of evidence of its activities it needs to create, what form that
evidence takes, how long the evidence should be retained and what access
should be provided to that evidence over time. These recordkeeping
requirements are identified through a systematic analysis of your
organisations business needs, legal and regulatory obligations, and broader
community expectations, as well as an assessment of your organisations
exposure to risk if these evidential requirements are not addressed.
Identifying your organisations recordkeeping requirements is an essential
step in the DIRKS process. It provides the rationale for the creation,
maintenance and disposal of records, the basis for designing systems that
facilitate such recordkeeping processes, and the benchmark for measuring
the performance of existing systems.
To complete Step C you need to:

C.2

locate relevant sources (Section C.4.1);

identify regulatory, business and community requirements for


recordkeeping (Section C.4.2);

document these identified requirements in a manner suitable for


reference purposes (Section C.4.3); and

determine and document which of the identified requirements will be


met (Sections C.4.4 and C.4.5).

BENEFITS OF IDENTIFYING YOUR RECORDKEEPING


REQUIREMENTS
By completing this step you will have:

an understanding of your organisations requirements to make and


keep records as evidence of its activities;

an appreciation of your organisations level of exposure to evidencerelated risks (such as failures in accountability, legal action and loss of
vital records);

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DIRKS manual Step C

an intellectual framework to support appraisal decisions and disposal


actions (see Appendix 8 Procedures for developing a records disposal
authority in the Commonwealth);

an appreciation of the internal and external factors (cultural,


technological and economic) that influence how these requirements
may be met;

a benchmark for assessing whether your organisations current


systems meet these recordkeeping requirements (Step D);

a basis for determining the range of strategies which best enable your
organisation to meet these recordkeeping requirements (Step E); and

the basis for developing functional specifications for recordkeeping


systems, including software products (Step F).

This will be documented in:

a list of all sources containing recordkeeping requirements relevant to


your organisation (expanding the list of sources compiled in Step A
and B); and

a list of the regulatory, business and community requirements for


recordkeeping derived from these sources, arranged in a form that can
be easily maintained over time for reference purpose.

Given the implications for organisational accountability, it is essential that


the process of identifying your recordkeeping requirements be well
documented. The documentation should provide the rationale for each
requirement and enable it to be traced back to its source.
C.3

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES


Before starting Step C you should have:

a general understanding of your organisation and the context in which


it operates (Step A);

analysed your organisations functions, activities and transactions


(Step B);

fully documented any sources consulted during Steps A and B so that


you can quickly refer to them and determine their usefulness for this
step; and

obtained managerial support to identify and document the


organisations recordkeeping requirements.

In order to identify and document your organisations recordkeeping


requirements you will need:

access to internal and external documentary sources, and information


gathered through the interview process (these sources of information
may have been used in Steps A and B);
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DIRKS manual Step C

personnel with analytical skills (including familiarity with modelling


techniques), oral and written communication skills and broad
knowledge of the organisation; and

access to personnel with an understanding of legal, audit, quality


assurance and other relevant matters to assist with risk and feasibility
assessment.

Access to personnel with IT database expertise to assist with documentation


can also be beneficial.
Many recordkeeping requirements may have been identified in the course of
identifying functions and activities in Step B. These requirements should be
linked to the appropriate function and activity once your business
classification scheme is finalised.
C.4

IDENTIFYING YOUR RECORDKEEPING REQUIREMENTS


There are three main types of recordkeeping requirements:

regulatory (or accountability or legislative) requirements (Section


C.4.2.1);

business (or operational) requirements (Section C.4.2.2); and

community expectations or sociopolitical or societal requirements


(Section C.4.2.3).

Recordkeeping requirements may be stated explicitly in laws, regulations


and other instruments of authority, or implied by the environment in which
your organisation operates. They will refer to specific needs for evidence. For
example, a requirement may state the need for:

the creation of a record;

its retention for a specified period;

its disposal;

access conditions;

the content the record;

the form it should be in; and

aspects relating to quality, that it is a full and accurate record (See


glossary).

In order to identify your organisations recordkeeping requirements you


should use both documentary sources and interviews. Different types of
requirements will generally come from different sources. For example, a
regulatory requirement for the creation of evidence will be found in a
documentary source, whereas the business need to retain the evidence may
come from an interview.

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In the course of your investigation, it is likely that you will discover


numerous sources that identify needs for evidence. However, it is important
to distinguish these identified recordkeeping requirements from those
requirements that you ultimately choose to satisfy. The latter requirements,
and the quality of evidence created and maintained to support them, will be
determined through a process of risk and feasibility analysis.
C.4.1 Locate relevant sources

The first stage of identifying your organisations recordkeeping requirements


is to find relevant internal and external sources (such as those listed in
Appendix 1 Guide to documentary sources). In Steps A and B you used
these sources to analyse your organisations context and business activities.
In this step you need to look at these and other sources to find information
that will help you identify and assess recordkeeping requirements.
When researching recordkeeping requirements, it is important to address the
interests of all internal and external stakeholders. In Steps A and B you
identified the stakeholders of your organisation and particular functions and
activities. These stakeholder interests may represent different types of
recordkeeping requirement. For example:

a joint venture partner wants access to your organisations records of


the venture for 10 years (a business requirement);

the section responsible for an activity regularly refers to the records for
seven years after the event (a business requirement); or

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DIRKS manual Step C

genealogists argue for the indefinite retention of citizenship and


immigration files (a community expectation).

Documentary sources may include information on stakeholder interests.


Internal business interests may be reflected in policy and procedure material.
Written reports regarding the concerns of external stakeholders may be
available. Interviews are also effective to gather information about
stakeholders interests in records. Bear in mind that internal staff will often
know the interests of external stakeholders.
C.4.1.1 Internal documentary sources
A good place to begin is to identify any previous research into recordkeeping
requirements carried out in your organisation. You may be able to use or
tailor this information for your current purposes.
For example, analysis carried out in preparation for the design and
implementation of other information systems within your organisation may
have examined requirements for recordkeeping in specific functional areas.
This is particularly likely in core functional areas that require high levels of
reporting and/or financial accountability. It may be worth looking at the
documentation compiled for these other systems or procedural guidelines
that support particular business processes. Your organisations information
systems or business systems unit should be able to provide you with copies
of any requirements documentation relating to in-house electronic
information systems.
Records disposal authorities under which your organisation currently
operates will contain previously identified requirements for the retention of
its unique business records. However, it is unlikely that the sources of these
requirements are explicitly documented in disposal authorities, and
recordkeeping requirements not relating directly to retention will not be
identified. Furthermore, the recordkeeping requirements to retain records
may not be comprehensive. Some requirements may have been superseded
and new requirements may come into effect. Nonetheless, your
organisations existing disposal authorities can provide a useful starting
point. Records documenting the development of these authorities will
provide additional information and help you judge the reliability of past
disposal actions. Like other requirements, this information will need to be
mapped to the relevant functions and activities.
Requirements for evidence may be found (or corroborated) in corporate
policies, internal guidelines, procedure manuals, reporting structures (such
as those between managers and staff), and quality assurance programs. The
examination of internal sources will also help you determine activities and
processes that currently result in the creation and retention of records in your
organisation. Further investigation of these activities and processes may
reveal additional requirements, as well as provide valuable information
about your organisations current recordkeeping systems needed for Step D.

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C.4.1.2 External documentary sources


The most relevant external sources are likely to include your organisations
enabling legislation, the legislation it administers, and any legislation that
applies to its operations. Regulations issued under legislation may also
specify recordkeeping requirements.
You will also need to consider guidelines, reports or directives arising from:

complaints handling bodies such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman;

audit authorities such as the Australian National Audit Office


(ANAO);

administrative or judicial reviews;

committees of inquiry;

investigative bodies such as royal or independent commissions; and

policies and guidelines promulgated by the National Archives of


Australia.

A failure to recognise requirements resulting from these sources may expose


your organisation to penalties and prosecution.
Various industry standards and best practice standards and guidelines
adopted or endorsed by your organisation may also be relevant, and include:

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 15489 standard


on records management and the accompanying technical report;

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9000 series of


quality management standards;

software development standards; and

documentation standards.

C.4.1.3 Organisational staff


In addition to documentary sources, key personnel in your organisation can
provide detailed information on business activities and processes, as well as
useful perspectives on why particular records need to be created and kept.
Managers can often provide the big picture regarding the organisations
business and accountability requirements. Operational staff and action
officers are usually a good source for identifying more specific business
requirements based on an analysis of processes. Through analysing process
and transactions, requirements to create records often become evident. Audit
and legal specialists (both internal and external) may also be consulted to
determine specific accountability requirements and retention requirements
for legal defensibility. Quality assurance managers, too, can provide useful
information about which records need to be kept and why.
Interviews with some key personnel may have been carried out during Steps
A and B, and you could draw on this contextual material to focus your

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inquiries in Step C. Appendix 2 Guide to interviews, provides further


advice on the type of information you should seek as well as sample
questions.
C.4.2 Identify regulatory, business and community requirements for
recordkeeping

After locating relevant sources, you will need to examine each source to find
implicit or explicit references to recordkeeping. This will involve using both
a top-down functions-based approach and a lower-level process-based
approach to identify requirements for evidence.
C.4.2.1 Regulatory requirements
Determining regulatory requirements for recordkeeping involves taking each
unique function identified during Step B and determining the recordkeeping
requirements that apply to it. As you work your way through the sources,
you will progressively be able to identify requirements that pertain to
specific activities within the function.
Some regulatory requirements may pertain to processes rather than
activities, and therefore may be applicable across different activities, or even
functions.
Performing online searches of sources, using terms such as records,
evidence, writing, keep and documents, can provide an efficient way of
finding the more explicit references to recordkeeping pertaining to your
organisations functions. To locate the implicit requirements you will need to
read the source more thoroughly. The legal information retrieval service
(SCALEplus) of the Commonwealth Attorney-Generals Department or the
Australasian Legal Information Institute databases (AustLII) are useful
access points for legislation relevant to your organisation. Similar searches
should be conducted of relevant industry regulations and standards
although, if such resources are not available in electronic form, manual
searches will need to be conducted. A number of standards, including those
available through Standards Australia, are accessible (or can be ordered)
online.
Some regulatory sources may state only that a particular record, such as a
register, be kept and made accessible to certain individuals or groups. Other
sources may be explicit about the content of a record, or indicate how long it
should be retained. You should bear in mind that the same record or group
of records may be required for more than one recordkeeping activity, and
that some requirements will be described in more detail than others.
Implicit requirements will be more difficult to ascertain, and will take more
time and effort to identify. While it is a time-consuming exercise, carefully
checking relevant legislation, formal directives and standards for implicit
references to recordkeeping requirements is an essential step in the
requirements identification process. It provides a means of acquiring much
of the contextual information you need to fully understand your
organisations regulatory environment. Of course, this approach can be
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supplemented by an examination of corporate policies and procedures, and


by interviewing personnel who are familiar with the relevant legislation,
formal directives and industry standards.
C.4.2.2 Business requirements
Recordkeeping requirements that support business needs are likely to be
identified in an organisations enabling legislation or other instruments of
authority, or in the routines that establish and maintain its operations.
Organisations that manage funds, for example, will automatically identify a
requirement to make and keep evidence of the receipt and expenditure of
those funds, as this is a routine part of conducting financial affairs. However,
the form and content of evidence will vary depending on an organisations
functions, corporate culture and external environment.
When business needs or practices change, it is necessary to reassess and
identify evidential requirements. The rapid expansion of information
technology and telecommunications into business operations has provided
such an impetus for many organisations.
A useful way to identify business requirements is to consider the chain of
evidence an organisation or individual needs to substantiate a sequence of
decisions or actions. For example, copies of invoices sent provide evidence of
income due in return for goods or services rendered. This analytical
approach deliberately adopts a narrow focus to determine internal business
drivers for specific recordkeeping activities. In comparison, Steps A and B
adopt a wide view to assess external motivations, influences and constraints
on your organisation.
During Step C, you will also need to closely examine existing policies,
guidelines, work procedure manuals and standard operating procedures to
identify when records relating to organisational functions and activities are
created. You will then need to interview business area experts within the
relevant functional areas to determine why these records are created and
retained. While you may find that some records are created due to
previously identified, explicit regulatory requirements, and retained in
conformance with existing disposal authorities, other records will be created
and retained purely to meet the specific business needs of the organisation.
Information gained at this stage can be used in two ways:

to determine records currently being created and retained, and the


business reasons for their creation and retention; and

to identify the various recordkeeping systems currently in place within


your organisation.

While the identification of current recordkeeping systems is carried out in


Step D, some initial work can be done during Step C. For example, during
the process of identifying records currently created in the organisation you
may discover that records are kept in a variety of formal systems, such as the
centralised registry system, the human resource management system, the
financial management system, as well as ad hoc systems maintained by
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individual officers at their desks. Document this information as you come


across it, rather than duplicating your effort at a later stage.
C.4.2.3 Community expectations
Community expectations expressed by a wide range of external stakeholders
can give rise to recordkeeping requirements that may or may not be reflected
in business and regulatory requirements.
There are times when the community expresses concern about the
interpretation and/or application of particular laws or the administrative
actions taken by government. Both existing community bodies and new
advocacy or interest groups will express their views and concerns to the
government in office. Individuals and groups from the media can also be
part of this process. An organisation may consult with and form an ongoing
relationship with these groups to provide briefings and receive feedback in
return. Some organisations also have established relationships with
researchers, historical groups, or enthusiasts who take a particular interest in
the organisations archives. Community views may affect government policy
informally. Alternatively, the activities of these groups may have more
formal effects on the process of government and, eventually, their views may
be transformed into formal accountability requirements.
Documentary sources that may give expression to community interests in
government records include:

minutes of consultative meetings;

proceedings of advisory board or council meetings (where impressions


of community expectations are reported);

representations;

parliamentary debates;

media monitoring exercises; and

the organisations website (visitors logs or users questionnaires).

You may also obtain guidance from staff in the business areas who are aware
of community expectations that should be considered in relation to their
activities. Consultation with stakeholder representatives should be
conducted if sufficient information on their expectations is not available
internally, and to foster understanding with the stakeholders.
However, it is often difficult to discern what evidence an organisation should
create and keep to satisfy community expectations until it fails to anticipate
or recognise an interest in some way and attracts public criticism. Evidence
of potential value will be included in policy documents and general
correspondence that reveal governments changing stance on a particular
issue or a communitys shifting response over time. The value of such
records becomes obvious when the histories of particular organisations,
functions or activities are commissioned.

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C.4.3 Document identified requirements for recordkeeping

The Acts of Parliament, Statutory rules and Other sources templates in


Appendix 4 Source identification forms can be used to document the
sources that you have consulted in this step. If you are adding to information
already gathered during Steps A and B, remember to document any new
sources you have used. Also update your organisations register of sources.
After documenting the sources you have used, you will need to document
each of the business, regulatory and community-related recordkeeping
requirements you have identified so that they can be used to assess your
organisations existing systems (Step D), develop recordkeeping strategies
(Step E) and design systems (Step F). You should use a format that is easy to
maintain, as requirements are prone to change and will need to be amended
or updated periodically. The need for evidence of changes to recordkeeping
requirements is, in itself, a recordkeeping requirement, because it enables
your organisation to account for past recordkeeping actions and decisions.
The format you choose will therefore need to be capable of tracking such
changes.
There are a number of options for documenting recordkeeping requirements,
depending on your organisations needs and the number and complexity of
its requirements. For example, you may choose:

tables and templates in a series of word-processed documents;

spreadsheets; or

databases.

Whichever option you choose, you need to think about the kind of
information you want to record, and how it should be structured. You will
also need to decide how to represent the links between each requirement and
the function, functionactivity pair or transaction to which it applies.
C.4.3.1 Tables and templates
You may consider it sufficient to document your organisations
recordkeeping requirements in a word-processed prose report. If so, your
organisation may have a corporate style for reports that you should use.
However, even in prose reports, it is important that you document
information about each requirement consistently and clearly. It may be
possible to design a standard form or template that presents the
requirements in an easy-to-follow (and relatively easy-to-change) format that
is compatible with your organisations in-house report style. The Appendix 7
Function source document template includes a table for documenting
minimum information about recordkeeping requirements linked to the
functional context. You may use this as a summary of fully documented
requirements or decide just to capture the basic information about each
requirement in this form.

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C.4.3.2 Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets offer more functionality than word-processed reports and need
not be complex. Benefits of spreadsheets include being able to sort by
different elements, for example function or requirement type, making your
research more useable for different purposes. To gain the most benefit from
this format it is essential to clearly identify what information is being
captured in each column and to segment it as much as possible, that is, to
capture small units of information separately.
C.4.3.3 Databases
In instances where there are many recordkeeping requirements, or where
requirements are likely to change frequently, it may be appropriate to place
information about your organisations recordkeeping requirements into a
database. The advantages of a database over other options are:

only having to record information, including changes, about a


particular requirement, function, activity or functionactivity pair
once; and

being able to produce tailored views of the information in the database


to meet different needs.

This option will involve more work at the outset, because a database needs to
be properly specified, designed and documented for it to be useful and
maintainable. Your organisations information systems or business systems
unit should be able to help you with this; it may even build the database for
you. It is critical that you clearly specify:

what information you want to keep in the database;

how you want the different pieces of information to be linked; and

how you want to use the information.

The DIRKS documentation database can be used to document your


recordkeeping requirements.
C.4.3.4 What information should you include?
Regardless of the format you choose, you will need to decide what data to
compile about your organisations recordkeeping requirements. Although
this will depend on the number and complexity of your organisations
recordkeeping requirements, it is likely to include some or all of the
following information:

14

the authority responsible for promulgating the source of the


requirement;

the name of the source, including any reference number (ie legislation
title and number, publication title and details, personal name and
position of informant);

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DIRKS manual Step C

the date the source came into effect (ie publication or issue date and
superseded or decommissioned date);

a description of the source (eg legislation, regulation, directive,


industry standard, best-practice standard, internal policy, community
expectation);

the specific paragraph, clause, section or page in the source that


contains the requirement;

a statement outlining how the requirement relates to the organisations


specific situation (ie the recordkeeping requirement). Remember,
requirements relate to records and the statement should also identify
the record involved (eg a register, minutes of meeting, etc);

the stakeholder that has their interest met by the requirement (eg a
community group or a particular section of the organisation);

the evidential need the requirement relates to (eg the content, form or
quality of the record or its creation, retention, disposal or access);

the business function, activity or functionactivity pair the requirement


applies to (ie drawn from the analysis of business activity in Step B);

a citation of the precise text in the source that specifies (or implies) the
requirement;

the organisational position responsible for ensuring that the


requirement is met; and

results of any risk assessments.

Information about the source of the requirement should be contained in the


register of sources and could be linked to the requirement by a reference
number, rather than replicating the information.
Table 1 illustrates how full information on a recordkeeping requirement for
IP Australia may be documented in a simple template format. Other options
discussed above, such as databases or spreadsheets, are easier to manage.
The requirements are grouped together as they relate to the one record a
register of patents and come from one source.

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Table 1 Sample recordkeeping requirements for IP Australia

16

Originating
authority

Parliament of Australia

Source name

Patents Act 1990 (No. 83 of 1990)

Effective date

30 October 1990

Source type

Legislation

Reference

Section 186 Register of Patents


Section 190 Inspection of Register

Function/activity

Patent, Trade Mark and Design Rights Management


Registration

Citation

Section 186
(1) A Register of Patents is to be kept at the Patent
Office.
(2) The Register may be kept wholly or partly by use of a
computer.
(3) If the Register is kept wholly or partly by use of a
computer:
(a) references in this Act to an entry in the Register are to
be read as including references to a record of particulars
kept by use of the computer and comprising the Register
or part of the Register; and
(b) references in this Act to particulars being registered,
or entered in the Register, are to be read as including
references to the keeping of a record of those particulars
as part of the Register by use of the computer; and
(c) references in this Act to the rectification of the
Register are to be read as including references to the
rectification of the record of particulars kept by use of the
computer and comprising the Register or part of the
Register.
Section 190
(1) The Register must be available for inspection at the
Patent Office by any person during the hours that it is
open for business.
(2) If a record of particulars is kept by use of a computer,
subsection (1) is to be taken to be complied with, to the
extent that the Register consists of those particulars, by
giving members of the public access to a computer
terminal which they can use to inspect the particulars,
either on a screen or in the form of a computer printout.

Recordkeeping
requirement(s)

A register of patents, in either hardcopy or electronic


form, must be created and maintained.
The register must be kept at the Patent Office (now IP
Australia).
The register must be accessible to members of the
public. If all or any part of the register is in electronic
form, the appropriate hardware and software must be
available at IP Australia to enable access by members of
the public.

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Stakeholder

Parliament, general public

Requirement type

Creation / Access / Form

Risk assessment

High requirement mandatory

C.4.4 Assess the risk of not meeting requirements

Risk is an important factor that must be considered in recordkeeping. For


example, there may be risks involved in not:

creating records in the first place;

capturing and managing records in a recordkeeping system;

keeping records;

destroying records when they are no longer required; and

ensuring that records remain accessible and readable over time.

Organisations should be aware of the possible consequences arising from


these risks. Decisions not to meet requirements may:

compromise current or future business activity;

compromise the organisations capacity to defend or prosecute claims;

result in loss of amenity for the organisation;

attract adverse publicity or community reaction;

compromise rights and entitlements of other parties affected by


government decisions and actions;

compromise wider government interests; and

diminish archival resources.

This is a different approach to risk than that used in other steps. In Steps A
and B you examined the risks related to the business activity, that is, the risk
involved in performing the work. In this step, you are examining
recordkeeping risks. Recordkeeping risks are the risks that result from not
having appropriate records of the work. There are links between the two
types of risks; for example, the high risk related to a particular area of
business could be reduced by good recordkeeping. Therefore the risks of not
creating records relating to this area may be high.
The level of risk associated with maintaining records may influence the
length of time the records will be retained, particularly if the risks of
disposing of them become moderate to low. The risks associated with
maintaining records include preservation, security, servicing and legal
discovery costs, and improper access leading to breaches of privacy or
confidentiality. Assessments may need to be conducted in some

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circumstances to determine the consequences of risks and ways to treat them.


The risks of discovery action or legitimate access to records should not be
used to justify the non-creation or premature disposal of records that it
would otherwise be desirable to have.
If there are any requirements which your organisation is considering not
meeting, or if there is a conflict between requirements, a risk assessment can
help determine an appropriate course of action. You need to provide clear
definitions of what constitutes different levels of risk to your organisation
(including unacceptable risk as a benchmark), and then prioritise the
identified recordkeeping requirements according to this scale. Your
organisation may already have in place its own risk management policy that
defines such benchmarks. See Appendix 11 Risk analysis in DIRKS.
The results of this risk assessment, and risks linked to particular functions
(Step B) can help determine what recordkeeping requirements should be
met. See Appendix 12 Recordkeeping feasibility analysis. The various
tables, matrices and other techniques used in risk and feasibility analysis will
help you to:

identify specific areas of recordkeeping risk in your organisation;

quantify and prioritise those risks in terms of the cost to, or impact on,
your organisation (ie operational, financial and technical feasibility
factors); and

make, justify and document recommendations for meeting


recordkeeping requirements.

C.4.5 Report to management

Your prioritised recordkeeping requirements should be formally submitted


to management for endorsement. It is particularly important to justify
recommendations not to meet any recordkeeping requirements. These
management-endorsed recordkeeping requirements will provide a mandate
for the creation of records in the organisation.
You may also wish to draw on the generic characteristics of systems that
keep records to inform management about the structures necessary to
support these recordkeeping requirements (see Part 1, Section 4
Characteristics of systems that keep records). This report can also be used as
an opportunity to gain management support for future steps.
If you are developing a records disposal authority, you may wish to
postpone seeking management approval until after you have completed
disposal recommendations. However, it is important that management
endorses the full set of recordkeeping requirements including creation,
access, content and form, not just those relating to retention or disposal.

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ISSUES

C.5.1 Drawing on other recordkeeping projects

While it is possible to draw on other projects and organisations for


inspiration, every organisation must develop its own list of recordkeeping
requirements, based on an analysis of its specific business, regulatory and
community requirements for evidence.
The National Archives Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA)
project may serve as a useful model. During the development of AFDA the
Archives created a relational database to document the business, regulatory
and community-based recordkeeping requirements that pertain to general
administrative functions. The database is a compilation of requirements
collected from legislation, formal directives, industry standards and
guidelines, procedures, and community expectations relating to general
administrative functions applicable across the Commonwealth jurisdiction.
Each individual requirement is explicitly linked to the specific Keyword
AAA functionactivity pair to which it pertains.
C.5.2 Maintaining a history of recordkeeping requirements

Recordkeeping requirements will form the agreed benchmark against which


all recordkeeping practices will be judged, therefore it is important to track
changes to recordkeeping requirements over time. Records about past and
current requirements should be maintained, because such information
provides context for the evidence that your organisation chooses to keep.
Changes could occur as a result of:

changes to business practices or needs;

changes to legislation;

changes in perceptions of risk or priorities;

the organisation losing or gaining functions;

tests in Steps E, F or G that expose flaws or inconsistencies in the


requirements; and

the discovery, during systems design and implementation, that a particular


requirement cannot reasonably be met due to financial, personnel, design,
equipment or other considerations.
C.5.3 Using recordkeeping requirements

Your set of approved recordkeeping requirements can be used for a number


of purposes. As well as providing the basis of a records disposal authority
(Appendix 8), they also provide a mandate for the creation of records in the
organisation. Based on the requirements, a list can be compiled identifying
those records you have determined should be created. A set of record
creation rules will be useful for many reasons. They can be used to:

educate staff about their recordkeeping obligations;


19

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step C

show the minimum level of documentation to be captured as records;

help determine how best to capture essential records in Step E;

assist in the fulfilment of recordkeeping requirements; and

assist auditors in determining if appropriate action was taken.

C.5.4 Recordkeeping requirements for housekeeping functions

There are also many legislative, business and community requirements


relating to the records of housekeeping functions, such as financial
management and occupational health and safety. It is not necessary for you
to investigate these requirements as the National Archives is currently
developing advice on these requirements based on research undertaken for
the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA). Compliance with
these requirements will have to be assessed in Step D.
C.6

CHECKLIST
Before proceeding further check that you have:

C.7

identified and documented all sources of your organisations


recordkeeping requirements;

documented your organisations identified requirements in a


structured, traceable and easily modifiable form;

investigated risk and feasibility factors associated with requirements


where necessary; and

documented your assessment of these factors.

WHATS NEXT?
You can now move on to Step D Assessment of existing systems and use
the recordkeeping requirements document to assess the performance of your
organisations current recordkeeping systems.
You may also wish to develop classification tools such as a functions
thesaurus based on your BCS (Step B) and informed by the recordkeeping
requirements identified in Step C.
You have also completed substantial work towards the compilation of a
functions-based records disposal authority for your organisation. Use
Appendix 8 Procedures for developing a records disposal authority in
Commonwealth agencies to complete this project.

20

STEP D
ASSESSMENT OF
EXISTING
SYSTEMS
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy Statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step D

CONTENTS

D.1

WHAT DOES ASSESSING YOUR BUSINESS INFORMATION


SYSTEM INVOLVE?

D.2

BENEFITS OF ASSESSING YOUR EXISTING BUSINESS


INFORMATION SYSTEM

D.3

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES

D.4

ASSESSING YOUR EXISTING SYSTEMS

D.4.1
D.4.2
D.4.3

Identify existing information systems


Analyse your existing systems
Prepare a report

Table 1 Sample gap analysis


D.5

ISSUES
D.5.1
D.5.2
D.5.3

6
8
10
9
10

Flexibility
Assessing housekeeping functions
Duplicate systems

10
11
11

D.6

CHECKLIST

11

D.7

WHATS NEXT?

12

National Archives of Australia

D.1

DIRKS manual Step D

WHAT DOES ASSESSING YOUR BUSINESS INFORMATION


SYSTEM INVOLVE?
The purpose of Step D is to survey your organisations existing
recordkeeping and other information systems to measure the extent to which
they provide evidence of business activities, or have the required
functionality to do this.
To do this, you will draw on the requirements for evidence identified in Step
C and information on the required characteristics of recordkeeping systems
described in Part 1 of this manual. This analysis will reveal any gaps between
your organisations prioritised recordkeeping requirements and the
performance and capabilities of its existing systems. It will also identify such
things as duplication of information, systems that might be replaced by a
new records system as well as areas where there are recordkeeping strengths.
To complete Step D you need to:

D.2

identify existing paper-based, electronic and hybrid business


information systems within the organisation (Section D.4.1);

analyse whether your organisations prioritised recordkeeping


requirements are being met (Section D.4.2);

determine whether current systems have the capacity to meet them (by
measuring the gap between what you have and what you want)
(Section D.4.2); and

prepare a report describing the strengths and weaknesses of existing


information and records management practices (Section D.4.3). This
can form the basis for subsequent design or redesign of systems,
policies or procedures (Steps E and F).

BENEFITS OF ASSESSING YOUR EXISTING BUSINESS


INFORMATION SYSTEMS
The introduction of technology, changes to organisation structures and new
management approaches have substantially affected traditional business
processes and systems. Automated systems and processes have largely
replaced paper-based systems and processes. In many cases, recordkeeping
practices that existed in the paper environment have been neglected or
discarded in the transition to electronic business environments.
Much of todays business relies on a combination of electronic and paperbased systems. While it is appropriate in some circumstances for electronic
systems to provide up-to-date business information, in many cases the
system must also maintain a history of past transactions that can be accessed
as evidence of its business activities. If an electronic system is not designed to
do this, or cannot be modified to do so, an organisation may expose itself to
business and accountability risks. Paper-based systems that do not meet
organisational requirements for recordkeeping will present similar risks.
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DIRKS manual Step D

By determining whether recordkeeping requirements are being met and


identifying the functionality or characteristics of the systems, Step D will
help you determine which systems used in the conduct of your business
provide:

timely, manipulable information (information systems);

evidence of business transacted (recordkeeping systems); or

timely, manipulable information, but need to record business


transacted.

In practice, conceptual distinctions between types of systems are likely to be


blurred, with organisations expecting, if not assuming, that their business
information systems satisfy both information and recordkeeping needs.
Failure to meet requirements may be caused by a number of factors, such as:

inappropriate policies or procedures;

staff who are unaware of their responsibilities; or

electronic systems missing necessary functionality.

From this it is clear that, in assessing your organisations existing systems,


the supporting infrastructure such as policies, procedures and the knowledge
of staff who operate the system must also be considered.
By completing an assessment of your existing business information systems
you will have:

an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your


organisations existing records and information management practices;

an appreciation of your organisations potential exposure to recordsrelated business and accountability risks (caused by the strengths and
weaknesses of your organisations existing practices); and

an informed basis for developing strategies to address your prioritised


recordkeeping requirements.

Products of this step include:

D.3

an inventory of your organisations existing records and information


systems; and

a report outlining the extent to which your existing business


information systems address your organisations prioritised
recordkeeping requirements.

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES


Before starting Step D you should consider whether to:

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step D

begin this step after Steps A to C to ensure that your assessment of


existing systems draws on a comprehensive understanding of your
organisations recordkeeping requirements;

undertake parts of this step concurrently with Step A so that your


preliminary investigation of the organisational and technological
environment includes an inventory of existing systems; or

use this step as the starting point to establish a business case for a more
extensive recordkeeping project.

In order to conduct a detailed assessment of your existing business


information systems you will need:

D.4

personnel with an understanding of your organisations recordkeeping


requirements, familiarity with existing systems and associated policies
and procedures and the ability to assess the current and potential
capabilities of these systems; and

documentation arising from Step C that clearly sets out your


organisations prioritised recordkeeping requirements. If you have not
undertaken Step C, your assessment of existing systems will be less
rigorous.

ASSESSING YOUR EXISTING SYSTEMS

D.4.1 Identify existing information systems

Business information systems may function as information systems or


recordkeeping systems. They may be totally paper-based, totally electronic,
or hybrid systems which include both electronic and paper-based
information. You should survey, document and assess all the business
information systems within your organisation as part of this step.
In broad terms, records systems are a subset of information systems. They
can be distinguished from information systems in a number of ways,
including:

the operations they perform (eg maintaining a tamper-proof history of


business transacted);

the controls they have in place (eg registering and dating business
transactions and linking them to a classification of the business
activity); and

the business rules they implement (eg requiring documentation, or


minutes, of business transacted during formal meetings).

The characteristics of systems that keep records are outlined in Part 1,


Section 4 Characteristics of systems that keep records.
When identifying systems it is also necessary to examine the supporting
infrastructure that makes the system work. This includes:

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step D

the people who use the system;

the people who manage the system;

policies governing the use of the system;

rules and procedures on operating the system; and

associated tools, such as a controlled language thesaurus or data


dictionary.

A failure to meet recordkeeping requirements can be caused by problems in


any of these areas as well as deficiencies in the system itself.
It is common for an organisation to have more than one business information
system. For example, the National Archives of Australia identified at least 70
systems in use across its own organisation in early 1998, including 49
computer-based systems and 21 paper-based systems. These included the
official registry system for correspondence files, the financial management
system, library serials register, case files for reference enquiries, and
duplicate ready reference sets of current disposal authorities.
There are a variety of techniques available to help you identify the existing
business information systems within your organisation. These include the
use of records survey and information inventories.
D.4.1.1 Records surveys
Start by identifying a significant but discrete collection of records in your
organisation such as accounting records, case records, or general
correspondence. Each collection of records will usually be managed by a
separate business information system, although some of the supporting
factors such as people, policies or equipment may be the same. Then identify
all the records that relate to the collection. These records should include
control documentation (such as file registers and indexes). Next, identify the
business units, work groups and individuals that use these systems. This
may involve interviewing relevant staff and observing systems in operation.
Move on to another collection after you have surveyed one collection.
A data collection form should be completed for each collection of records and
system identified. As you survey each collection, you can check it for
compliance with relevant recordkeeping requirements and check whether
the system has the necessary recordkeeping functionality.
Traditionally, records surveys have been used to identify and document
recordkeeping systems, but this technique can also be applied to information
systems.
D.4.1.2 Information inventory techniques
An information inventory identifies and documents information systems in
an organisation.
The NSW Office of Information Technology has developed an Inventory
Guideline (PDF 86K) that describes how to compile a physical inventory and
7

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step D

produce an information directory of your organisation. The guideline


describes how to plan, perform and document the inventory. Attributes for
each collection of information are listed as part of the inventory, including
the type, source and custodian.
D.4.2 Analyse your existing systems

In recordkeeping, the purpose of assessing existing business information


systems is to identify the extent to which these systems satisfy your
organisations needs for evidence. Gaps may exist with respect to:

the functions that the system must perform (known as recordkeeping


functionality of the system); and

the evidence of business that must be created, captured and managed


(known as recordkeeping requirements).

Before undertaking a gap analysis, it is necessary to establish a measure or


benchmark against which your organisations systems can be assessed. For
this assessment, there must be two benchmarks: one for the system or
recordkeeping functionality, derived from the generic characteristics of good
records systems identified in Part 1, Section 4 Characteristics of systems
that keep records and the endorsed recordkeeping requirements from Step C.
A gap analysis will include the following steps.

Identify which system(s) to assess. This will be easier if you have an


understanding of the relationship between your organisations
business activities and existing systems.

Assess whether the existing practices and system(s) meet


recordkeeping requirements for evidence. It may be helpful to reframe
the requirements as a series of questions. The answers to these
questions should help to determine whether the requirement is
satisfied or not.

Assess whether the system(s) used to manage the records is


satisfactory or not. This phase also requires questions to be framed.
The answers to these questions should help to determine whether
there are systems capable of ensuring that records are made, captured,
managed and made accessible.

Document the assessment. This may simply involve posing the general
question: Is this requirement for evidence satisfied by existing
systems? (recordkeeping requirements) and Is the system capable of
supporting the requirements? (recordkeeping functionality). Or it may
warrant a more detailed explanation of how or why the requirement is
or is not satisfied and fails in its recordkeeping functionality. This may
involve answering yes or no to a series of specific questions.

Gap analysis can also be used in information management to assess whether


an organisations information stores meet its information requirements.
Consult the NSW Office of Information Technologys Inventory Guideline
(PDF 86K) for further advice.
8

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step D

The following example illustrates how a gap analysis may be undertaken


with respect to a sample business activity, registering patents. Table 1
outlines the requirements for evidence arising from Step C. Note that Step D
draws on the risk assessment conducted in Step C.
Table 1 Sample gap analysis
Originating
authority

Parliament of Australia

Source name

Patents Act 1990 (No. 83 of 1990)

Effective date

30 October 1990

Source type

Legislation

Reference

Section 186 Register of Patents


Section 190 Inspection of Register

Function/
activity

Patent, Trade Mark and Design Rights Management Registration

Citation

Section 186
(1) A Register of Patents is to be kept at the Patent Office.
(2) The Register may be kept wholly or partly by use of a computer.
(3) If the Register is kept wholly or partly by use of a computer:
(a) references in this Act to an entry in the Register are to be read as
including references to a record of particulars kept by use of the
computer and comprising the Register or part of the Register; and
(b) references in this Act to particulars being registered, or entered in
the Register, are to be read as including references to the keeping of
a record of those particulars as part of the Register by use of the
computer; and
(c) references in this Act to the rectification of the Register are to be
read as including references to the rectification of the record of
particulars kept by use of the computer and comprising the Register
or part of the Register.
Section 190
(1) The Register must be available for inspection at the Patent Office
by any person during the hours that it is open for business.
(2) If a record of particulars is kept by use of a computer, subsection
(1) is to be taken to be complied with, to the extent that the Register
consists of those particulars, by giving members of the public access
to a computer terminal which they can use to inspect the particulars,
either on a screen or in the form of a computer printout.

Recordkeeping
requirement(s)

A register of patents, in either hardcopy or electronic form, must be


created and maintained.
The register must be kept at the Patent Office [now IP Australia].
The register must be accessible to members of the public. If all or
any part of the register is in electronic form, the appropriate hardware
and software must be available at IP Australia to enable access by
members of the public.

Stakeholder

Parliament, general public

Requirement
type

Creation / Access / Form

Risk assessment

High requirement mandatory

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step D

The following questions will help test whether requirements for evidence are
met by the existing system(s).

Is there a register of patent decisions?

Is the register at the patent office?

Does the public have access?

There would also be other recordkeeping requirements related to the content


of the register.
The following are examples of questions that will help test whether the
system has the necessary recordkeeping functionality.

Is mandatory metadata captured?

Does the system have sufficient security to prevent unauthorised


alteration?

Can access be maintained over time?

The answers may reveal that a register is being used, but insufficient
information is being captured, and no plans are in place to manage the
migration of the electronic information. Therefore the requirements are only
partially satisfied.
D.4.3 Prepare a report

It is important to prepare a status report on your organisations existing


systems and practices before starting to design or redesign business
information systems or develop new policies and procedures. Depending on
the nature of your recordkeeping project, the report may provide a brief
summary of the gap analysis, an outline of the strengths and weaknesses of
your business information systems and recordkeeping practices, or detailed
documentation highlighting the extent to which systems satisfy each
recordkeeping requirement. While the preparation of such detailed
documentation is resource intensive, it will provide a sound basis for
developing functional specifications for any new or enhanced recordkeeping
systems (Step F).
D.5

ISSUES

D.5.1 Flexibility

The sources that you used in Step C contained implicit and explicit
references regarding the form, content and quality of evidence your
organisation should satisfy. It is important that the survey techniques you
use in Step D are flexible enough to assess the variety of recordkeeping
requirements identified in the earlier step.

10

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step D

D.5.2 Assessing housekeeping functions

Earlier steps have focused on your organisations core business activity.


However, it is also important to assess systems relating to housekeeping
functions, such as financial management and personnel, to ensure that the
right records are being created and managed in these aspects of your
business. Many familiar automated systems, such as accounting or payroll
systems may not function as recordkeeping systems. The same benchmark
should be used to assess the recordkeeping functionality of these systems.
The National Archives is currently preparing advice on recordkeeping
requirements for housekeeping functions, based on research undertaken for
the development of the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority.
D.5.3 Duplicate systems

Your survey or inventory may reveal the presence of duplicate information,


or informal, personal systems that duplicate information kept in formal
systems. While the removal of this duplication can increase efficiency, it can
also be a sign that something is wrong with current systems and practices. By
asking staff why they retain their own copies or run information systems,
you may discover:

poor response times from existing recordkeeping staff and systems


hamper work;

lack of trust in the current system;

no knowledge of official systems; or

lack of accessibility to official systems.

These problems should be included in your analysis. Strategies to address


them can be identified in Step E Strategies for recordkeeping.
D.6

CHECKLIST
Before proceeding further check that you have:

established a benchmark to assess your organisations existing systems


and practices;

identified, surveyed and documented relevant systems;

assessed whether the systems have the capacity to function as records


systems;

determined whether the systems currently create, capture and manage


evidence consistent with your prioritised recordkeeping requirements;
and

prepared a report describing the strengths and weaknesses of the


existing practices.

11

National Archives of Australia

D.7

DIRKS manual Step D

WHATS NEXT?
After completing Step D you may now move on to Step E Strategies for
recordkeeping, including the design of new systems or redesign of existing
systems. No further action is warranted if your assessment reveals that your
organisations existing systems are fully functional and satisfy requirements
for evidence.

12

STEP E
STRATEGIES FOR
RECORDKEEPING
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy Statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step E

CONTENTS

E.1

WHAT ARE RECORDKEEPING STRATEGIES?

E.2

BENEFITS OF IDEN TIFYING RECORDKEEPING STRATEGIES

E.3

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES

E.4

IDENTIFYING STRATEGIES FOR RECORDKEEPING

E.4.1
E.4.2
E.4.3
E.4.4
E.4.5

Investigate the range of strategies available


Identify appropriate tactics
Assess factors that support or inhibit tactics
Check tactics against identified weaknesses
Adopt an overall strategy

5
12
14
16
16

E.5

ISSUES

17

E.6

CHECKLIST

18

E.7

WHATS NEXT?

18

National Archives of Australia

E.1

DIRKS manual Step E

WHAT ARE RECORDKEEPING STRATEGIES?


The purpose of Step E is to determine the most appropriate policies,
practices, standards, tools and other tactics that your organisation should
adopt to remedy weaknesses identified in Step D and ensure that they meet
recordkeeping requirements identified in Step C. The choice of strategies
must consider the nature of your organisation, the type of business activities
it carries out, its supporting technological environment, the prevailing
corporate culture and any external sociopolitical constraints. Selection will
also be influenced by the potential of each strategy to achieve its desired
result and the risk to your organisation if the approach fails.
Strategies may include adopting policies and procedures, developing or
adopting standards, designing new system components or implementing
systems and practices in a way that satisfies your organisations
recordkeeping requirements.
To complete Step E you need to:

E.2

investigate the broad range of tactics available to satisfy recordkeeping


requirements (Section E.4.1);

identify appropriate tactics to satisfy your organisations


recordkeeping requirements (Section E.4.2);

assess factors that may support or inhibit the adoption of these tactics
within your organisation (eg corporate culture, existing business
systems and technological environment, risks in failing to satisfy
specific requirements) (Section E.4.3); and

adopt an overall design strategy to bring the tactics to fruition (Section


E.4.5).

BENEFITS OF IDENTIFYING RECORDKEEPING STRATEGIES


Chief executive officers, senior managers, information professionals and
employees make choices every day that determine whether their
organisation creates and retains evidence of its business activities.
Unfortunately, many of these choices are made on an ad hoc basis without an
adequate understanding of the organisations recordkeeping requirements,
an assessment of the risks of failing to meet such requirements or an
appreciation of the most appropriate methods for obtaining organisational
compliance.
By completing this step you will have a planned, systematic and appropriate
approach to the creation, capture, maintenance, use and preservation of
records that will:

provide the basis for good recordkeeping practices throughout your


organisation;

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step E

assist with the design or redesign of your organisations recordkeeping


and information systems; and

contribute or respond to related organisational needs (eg business reengineering).

Products of this step include:

E.3

a documented range of tactics that satisfy your organisations


recordkeeping requirements and meet organisational constraints; and

a report for senior management recommending an overall strategy to


improve recordkeeping.

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES


It is not possible to choose effective recordkeeping strategies without a
thorough understanding of your organisation. Therefore, you should
complete Steps A to D before starting this step.
In order to identify appropriate strategies you will need:

E.4

knowledge of your organisations existing business information


systems and technological environment (Step D);

knowledge of your organisations corporate culture (Step A);

documentation outlining your organisations prioritised requirements


(Step C);

personnel with strategic planning skills and understanding of risk and


feasibility issues; and

personnel with an understanding of corporate governance (eg legal


and audit specialists).

IDENTIFYING STRATEGIES FOR RECORDKEEPING


The strategies that you adopt to satisfy your organisations recordkeeping
requirements will depend on a range of organisational constraints. These
constraints are determined by internal factors (such as the corporate culture,
existing technological environment and financial resources) and the broader
sociopolitical environment.

E.4.1 Investigate the range of strategies available

There are four broad approaches that can help an organisation satisfy its
recordkeeping requirements. These are:

policy tactics (that is, principles, statements, instructions and other


corporate instruments of authority);

design-based tactics (that is, definition and specification of system


functionality and the development or selection of technological
solutions);
5

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step E

implementation-specific tactics (that is, practical user-oriented


solutions); and

standards development and compliance tactics (such as media


standards for document storage, application standards to facilitate the
exchange of information and other data, and standards that establish
intellectual control over records). [1]

Such tactics may be applied separately or in combination to meet your


organisations requirements. Further information about each of these
approaches is provided below.
E.4.1.1 Policy tactics
Policy tactics involve establishing and promulgating principles that influence
recordkeeping behaviour within the organisation. Such business rules may
be set out in corporate policies, instructions, directives or other instruments.
For example, a corporate policy may stipulate that employees must create
records of any business conducted using electronic information systems and
that the records must be captured into an electronic or paper-based records
system so that they are managed as records. Policy tactics generally require
employees to be conscious of the recordkeeping practices associated with the
business information systems they use on a daily basis. Successful use of
policy tactics is likely to be dependent on the design capabilities of the
existing systems, training and monitoring. In many corporate cultures, policy
tactics alone will not provide adequate assurance that records will be created
and managed appropriately.
The following list provides examples of the principles, statements and
instructions that may be included in policy documents and other instruments
of authority.

Provide a definition of a record (that is, as evidence of a business


activity regardless of the format).

State that all records are a corporate asset and, as such, do not belong
to individual employees.

State that electronic messages are records and, as such, need to be


captured and maintained within recordkeeping systems.

State that all policies apply to both paper and electronic records.

State that records must not be altered once they have been created or
received in the transaction of business.

Assign responsibility to individual employees regarding the creation


and management of records.

Assign responsibility for the capture of record copies (eg the head
office policy section is responsible for capturing the formal record of a
policy that is distributed throughout the organisation).

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step E

Instruct employees to document business transactions, including


telephone discussions, meetings, oral conversations, decisions,
recommendations, drafts and versions.

Instruct employees to save electronic records into shared directory


folders instead of personal files.

Require records to be captured into files or electronic containers that


are classified according to the business classification scheme or titling
thesaurus.

Prohibit the rearrangement of papers on files or the removal of papers


from files for any reason, unless the location of the removed folio is
clearly indicated.

Require that all papers attached to files be folio numbered.

State that records may only be used and maintained by authorised


users.

Prohibit staff from disclosing the contents of records without


authorisation

Prohibit employees from destroying records unless such action is


authorised by approved disposal procedures.

Require employees to capture the content, context and structure of


records to ensure that the record can act as evidence.

E.4.1.2 Design tactics


Design tactics apply primarily to the technical components of recordkeeping
systems. Such tactics make recordkeeping less obvious or intrusive to
employees by rendering it a routine, if not automatic, part of doing business
using the systems and technology available. An employees direct
involvement in recordkeeping tasks is thereby removed or reduced.
For example, an organisation may design a graphical user interface based on
its business activities rather than software applications and documents so
that when an employee selects the activity they are undertaking, the
necessary applications are launched and resulting records are automatically
tagged with information applicable to that activity. [2]
Design tactics require recordkeeping professionals to collaborate with IT
specialists to specify what in-house business applications and work flow
systems need to do to support recordkeeping (that is, their recordkeeping
functionality). Archivists and records managers must be prepared to provide
input into the design or redesign process to ensure that records are created
and captured in the course of using those systems for business activity. They
do not, however, need to be experts in technical design matters.
Most organisations purchase common commercially available software. In
this situation, design tactics can be employed to build recordkeeping
functionality around and between such applications. Design tactics can also
7

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step E

be used to customise software, where possible. Recordkeeping requirements


should also be regularly communicated to software vendors in order to
influence the development of their products. The following list provides
examples of functional specifications that may be incorporated into a system
design or considered when purchasing off-the-shelf applications.

Design recordkeeping applications that automatically capture as much


metadata as possible.

Design user interface of applications so that users are prompted to add


recordkeeping metadata to a document when they want to save it.

Require users to supply information in a pop-up records profile


template in order to complete an electronic business transaction.

Require users to add a file number (or other classifying data) to an


electronic message before the message can be sent.

Prohibit users from completing an electronic business transaction until


registration details are completed.

Define the metadata that needs to be captured during business


transactions to describe the content, context and structure of records in
both paper and electronic recordkeeping systems.

Design templates to capture necessary metadata elements during


business transactions.

Incorporate fields for the file number and/or classification in office


templates.

Automatically save records of specific electronic communications to a


corporate data store.

Establish shared directories and folders, and file and document


naming conventions in computerised office environments.

Incorporate the automatic generation and capture of records in work


flow systems.

Develop software to automatically capture electronic messages when


they are communicated.

Prescribe read-only access to electronic records retrieved from a


corporate data store.

Prevent the deletion of records without authorisation.

Maintain a history of authorised system users.

Ensure that appropriate access is allowed to normal users and


prevent access by unauthorised users.

Capture attempts to access sensitive records.

Use audit trails.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step E

Manage records according to metadata attached or linked to them.

Identify records of continuing value by use of metadata elements.

Link disposal decisions to records to assist data storage and migration.

Select electronic mail systems that facilitate and support electronic


recordkeeping.

Use records management software capable of managing virtual files.

E.4.1.3 Implementation tactics


Recordkeeping requirements can be satisfied by the way that policies and
systems are implemented in the workplace. Implementation tactics can range
from the physical configuration of software and hardware to the
establishment of procedures and practices that support policies and system
designs. Implementation tactics may be intrusive (that is, they require
employees to consciously undertake recordkeeping tasks) or invisible (that
is, recordkeeping occurs as part of routine business activity).
One powerful implementation tactic is training. Except for the most highly
automated tasks, recordkeeping will require some decision-making on the
part of action officers. Ongoing training is important so that action officers
know what records are, why they are important, what recordkeeping
requirements apply to their work and how to create records in compliance
with the organisations systems and policies.
The following list provides examples of practical steps that support and
complement the introduction of policy, systems design and adoption of
technical standards.

Develop corporate procedures for the capture and management of


electronic mail.

Produce guidelines to facilitate user access to recordkeeping systems.

Provide organisation-wide recordkeeping training.

Build recordkeeping responsibility into job profiles, statements of


duties, business rules, procedures and guidelines.

Provide folio numbering sheets for all paper-based files.

Require employees to complete a request for file form before gaining


access to files and maintain this information in the organisations
records management system.

Lock records storage areas (eg room, compactus, safe) to ensure only
authorised access to paper-based records.

Assign access permissions to ensure records are appropriately


protected and secure.

Remove hard and floppy drives from personal computers so that


records cannot be saved outside the corporate records store.
9

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DIRKS manual Step E

Utilise features of off-the-shelf applications that support


recordkeeping.

Ensure that organisations-wide data management practices are carried


out.

Ensure that information of use to recordkeeping is placed in a


prominent position in a file or in identified metadata fields. For
example, clearly identify the date of birth on a personal history record
or indicate whether a case is approved or not approved, and so on,
where a disposal outcome is dependant on this.

E.4.1.4 Standards tactics


Standards tactics include using technical standards relating to specific
components of systems and best practice standards relating to other aspects
of business. When developing a recordkeeping system it is useful to put in
place a set of standards, relating to different components of the system, and
with which those components are expected to comply. Standards relating to
operations or core functions are often already entrenched in existing
organisation systems and processes in the form of business rules.
At one level, the adoption or development of standards provides a means by
which system, user and organisation recordkeeping performance can be
measured. At another level, it assists in the development of a records system
with the following desirable characteristics:

ability to inter-operate with external systems (eg departmental


systems, systems of other organisations in the same or different
jurisdictions);

maintainability;

portability;

modularity (minimal disruption to other components of a system when


a change is made to one particular component); and

extensibility.

Different standards will relate to different aspects of the system. Examples of


different aspects that could be governed by standards include:

10

technical system and communication protocols;

recordkeeping metadata;

resource discovery metadata;

computer, personnel and/or physical security;

documentation;

training development and delivery;

National Archives of Australia

record formats; and

record storage.

DIRKS manual Step E

You may choose to adopt existing external standards, such as those issued by
the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or Standards
Australia, or develop in-house standards at the organisational or portfolio
level. There are also a number of whole-of-government standards relating to
recordkeeping and information management in the Commonwealth
jurisdiction. The use of archival quality paper in the creation of records is an
example of a traditional standards tactic. (See the National Archives advice
on a certification trademark for archival quality paper products.) The
proposed use of XML (extensible markup language) to encode records in the
Victorian governments Electronic Records Strategy is an example of a
standards tactic applicable to the electronic environment.
As with design tactics, standards can provide behind-the-scenes support by
not involving users directly in recordkeeping tasks.
Technical standards may be used to:

create or capture records and associated metadata directly in standard


formats;

convert electronic records and metadata into standard formats;

ensure inter-operability between disparate systems;

comply with recordkeeping and resource discovery metadata


standards;

store electronic records in established media;

utilise standards that enable databases to exchange data with other


databases; and

ensure the security of classified records, such as compliance with the


Defence Signals Directorate (Australian Communications Electronic
Security Instruction (ACSI) 33) for electronic records and Protective
Security Manual for paper records.

Best practice standards may be used to:

ensure consistency through the organisation;

give greater authority to policy tactics;

provide a benchmark for performance;

protect the organisation against adverse findings by scrutineers (audit,


legal, ombudsman, Parliamentary enquiry, etc); and

assist with compliance in other areas (for example, quality records will
assist ISO 9000 certification).

11

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DIRKS manual Step E

E.4.2 Identify appropriate tactics

Each of the strategic approaches policy, design, implementation and


standards has a variety of uses and can be used to address different gaps or
weaknesses. Potential uses of each approach are outlined below.
E.4.2.1 Policy tactics
Policy is a useful strategy if you want to:

emphasise corporate ownership of records;

establish an official position on the making and keeping of records;

establish a framework for consistent and accountable recordkeeping


practices;

demonstrate how recordkeeping fits within information management


and corporate programs; and

formally acknowledge the authoritative basis for the corporate records


manager and other employees to exercise their powers with respect to
corporate records.

Policy should be supported by other tactics when:

a recordkeeping requirement must be satisfied;

there is likely to be resistance to the policy; or

it introduces significant new employee responsibilities.

Policy and implementation tactics will usually work in combination. Policy


statements often need to be supported by extensive training and education
together with the introduction of written procedures and guidelines to
ensure that employees are well informed about their recordkeeping
responsibilities.
Policy tactics must be sufficiently flexible to accommodate changes in
organisational systems and the technological environment. To ensure
continuity, policy statements should not be tied to any specific
implementation of systems or technology.
International Standard ISO 15489, Records Management recommends that
organisations adopt a recordkeeping policy that ensures that business
activity is adequately documented through the making and capturing of
records. [3] It states that organisations should establish, document, maintain
and promulgate policies, procedures and practices for records management
to ensure that its business need for evidence, accountability and information
about its activities is met. [4]
Organisations seeking to comply with international quality management
standards need to be aware that the production of policy documentation is a
requirement for certification. The current ISO 9000 family of standards
outlines a range of factors that should be taken into consideration
(particularly ISO 9000: Quality Management Systems Fundamentals and
12

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DIRKS manual Step E

Vocabulary, ISO: ISO 9001: Quality Management Systems Requirements, and


ISO 9004: Quality Management Systems Guidance for Performance
Improvement).
E.4.2.2 Design tactics
Design is a useful strategy when:

it is critical that recordkeeping requirements are satisfied;

users do not need to be aware of recordkeeping functionality;

existing business information systems can be modified to capture this


information at a lower cost than development of another capture
mechanism;

new business information systems are being developed;

business information systems are being redesigned; or

business processes are being re-engineered.

Design tactics are normally accompanied by implementation tactics to ensure


that implemented systems function according to their design specifications.
E.4.2.3 Implementation tactics
Implementation will usually form a strategic component that complements
policy, design or standards tactics. Implementation strategies are particularly
useful when:

existing systems have appropriate functionality but are not being used
properly;

there is user resistance to change; or

design of new, or redesign of existing, systems is not cost effective.

It is also a useful change management tool.


E.4.2.4 Standards tactics
Standards are a useful strategy to:

support the design or redesign of new or existing systems;

manage software and hardware dependencies;

ensure system inter-operability; and

foster the creation of electronic records that will be useable,


understandable and available over time.

The use of open systems architecture and non-proprietary information


technology standards is a particularly important aspect of maintaining
electronic records for long-term access. It is anticipated that such standards
will reduce the complexity and cost of migrating records and applications
software from legacy information systems to new ones. Therefore, it is
13

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DIRKS manual Step E

strongly recommended that organisations consider standards requirements


when developing tactics for the storage and preservation of records of
enduring value. Such standards are neither a panacea nor a one time fix,
since they reflect current technology. Therefore, organisations must
diligently monitor their chosen hardware and software to ensure that they
continue to conform to non-proprietary standards that support application
connectivity and document portability. [5]
Best practice standards such as ISO 15489 on records management, the ISO
9000 series on quality management and metadata standards can be used to
support other tactics.
E.4.3 Assess factors that support or inhibit tactics

The success of various tactics will depend on a number of factors, including


the:

types of activities and transactions that should be documented;

organisations corporate culture;

organisations systems and technological environment; and

risk of failing to document particular activities.

You would have given some consideration to these issues when identifying
organisational constraints in earlier steps of the DIRKS process (notably
Steps A, C and D). It is important that you continue to assess the influence of
these internal factors when making strategic decisions during this step.
E.4.3.1 Types of activities and transactions
Certain strategies are likely to work better for certain types of activities and
transactions. For example, design strategies are most suited to simple,
structured, routine activities. More complex activities will usually require a
combination of strategies.
E.4.3.2 Corporate culture
The corporate culture of your organisation may be the most important factor
when identifying strategies to satisfy recordkeeping requirements. It is
important to select tactics that conform with or take advantage of the
prevailing corporate culture rather than imposing a pre-ordained framework
on your organisation.
At an enterprise-wide level, some organisations will readily adopt certain
tactics while others will resist similar measures. For example, an organisation
that displays a culture in which recordkeeping is taken seriously and staff
understand their recordkeeping responsibilities, is likely to embrace policy
and implementation tactics. An organisation that is enthusiastic about
information technology may be particularly receptive to design solutions
involving the capture and maintenance of electronic records compared with
an organisation that is a relative newcomer to the information age. While an
organisation with a high degree of risk sensitivity, an aversion to change,
14

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DIRKS manual Step E

and fear of losing control over its records may willingly adopt information
systems that meet recordkeeping requirements.
Within the organisation the behaviour of individuals and work groups, and
their differing perceptions of recordkeeping, may demand a variety of
tactics. Step A Preliminary investigation recommends undertaking an
analysis of organisational culture to determine employee perceptions of
recordkeeping and its relationship to business activity.
See Appendix 12 for a discussion of assessing the operational feasibility of
potential strategies and Appendix 9 Guide to developing a business case.
E.4.3.3 Systems and technological environment
The extent to which your organisations existing systems and technological
environment currently satisfy requirements will also influence your choice of
appropriate tactics.
If requirements are not being met, it is important to consider why and how
previous strategies have failed. For example, if an assessment of existing
systems (Step D) demonstrates poor compliance with a corporate policy
requiring employees to capture electronic messages as records, continued
reliance upon the policy tactic alone would be futile. Instead, the policy tactic
should be supported by design or implementation tactics to ensure that
recordkeeping occurs with minimal user effort.
Your organisations technological environment may also encourage
particular strategies. For example, it may be possible to link existing
document management applications and the thesaurus and disposal
modules of records management software to assist with the classification and
sentencing of text-based electronic records.
E.4.3.4 Assessing risks
Previously, in Step C, you assessed the risks your organisation could face if it
failed to produce essential evidence of its business activity. In Step E it is
necessary to consider the viability of each potential tactic, as a further factor
in selecting an appropriate solution for your organisation. See Appendix 11
Risk analysis in DIRKS and Appendix 12 Recordkeeping feasibility analysis
for help with this task. Use the procedures and tools presented in these
guidelines to determine:

the costs, in terms of money, human resources and time, incurred by


each proposed tactic;

the tangible and intangible benefits to the organisation offered by each


proposed tactic; and

the risks to which the organisation will be exposed if it adopts


particular tactics.

Make an assessment against both quantitative and qualitative criteria, such


as:

15

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DIRKS manual Step E

the extent to which major recordkeeping requirements and


organisational constraints are satisfied by the various tactics;

the ease with which the proposed tactics can be integrated with
existing systems and processes; and

the amount of user support and training required for each tactic.

E.4.4 Check tactics against identified weaknesses

After assessing the different kinds of tactics policy, standards, design and
implementation within the context of your broader organisational needs, it
is prudent to confirm that all weaknesses or gaps identified in Step D are
covered, and that the tactics do not undermine existing strengths in
recordkeeping practice. Conversely, it may be necessary to revisit the list of
recordkeeping requirements if it is impossible to meet some of them within
resource constraints.
This may involve formally mapping the tactics to the recordkeeping
requirements or recordkeeping functionality they are designed to support.
The mapping will not be one-to-one. Some tactics will address more than
one major requirement and some major requirements will be met by using a
combination of different tactics. It is also useful to note where requirements
are already met by existing practices.
E.4.5 Adopt an overall strategy

Once you have identified the range of potential tactics (or solutions)
available and assessed them against your organisational needs, it is
necessary to choose an appropriate mix of strategies based on:

how well the combined tactics meet the recordkeeping requirements


identified in Step C;

how well the combined tactics address necessary recordkeeping


functionality examined in Step D;

a comparative assessment of the costs, benefits and risks of different


solutions to your organisation; and

the best fit with current organisational systems and corporate culture.

The appropriate mix is likely to meet the criteria most important to your
organisation, and pose little risk, or an acceptable level of risk, to the
organisation in terms of cost, commitment of resources, interruption to core
business, and need for organisational change.
Remember that some parts of your organisation might require a different
mix of tactics to effectively meet their needs. For example, an area
conducting business in a highly regulated environment might already be
aware of their recordkeeping responsibilities. They will probably need less
training than those working in a less structured environment.

16

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DIRKS manual Step E

At the end of this step, it is important for organisations to explore options for
conducting the remainder of the project. This will depend on the mix of
strategies selected. For example, the design and implementation of an
organisation-wide system would be managed differently to the re-writing of
business rules in particular sections to incorporate recordkeeping
requirements. You may decide to carry out the remainder of the project fully
in-house or outsource design and delivery. Organisations that have explored
such options at an earlier stage in the process (for example at the end of Step
A) should confirm that their previously agreed approach and the strategies
selected in Step E are compatible.
It is possible that your organisation may not be in a position to design or
implement its preferred solution immediately due to current economic or
operational constraints. Provided there are no special legal or contractual ties
in place, your organisation may be able to:

implement part of the strategy to address essential needs;

opt for no further action at this time;

revisit potential tactics to select options that can work within current
constraints; or

revisit the preferred solution when circumstances have changed.

It is important to justify your recommendations in a formal report to


management and for management to document its decisions.
It is essential to address change management issues in your final strategy.
Matters to consider include:

E.5

how and when to involve stakeholders;

informing action officers of future changes; and

promoting the project to enhance acceptance of changes.

Issues

Step E may cause you some confusion due to its use of terminology and its
influence on Step F.
Some of the terms used in this step (such as design and implementation)
are used elsewhere in this manual to describe related processes applied at
different scales. For example, the eight-step DIRKS methodology, as a whole,
involves the overarching process of designing and implementing (that is,
developing) a recordkeeping system. Similarly, Steps F and G are concerned
with system-wide design and implementation activities. In contrast, the
design and implementation tactics in this step have specific, narrow
connotations regarding technological and practical recordkeeping strategies,
It is sometimes difficult in practice to see where determining recordkeeping
strategies ends (Step E) and designing systems to incorporate those strategies
begins (Step F). This is particularly the case when you take an iterative
approach to system development. In Step E it is essential to determine
17

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step E

general recordkeeping strategies and to select a combination of tactics that


will help implement those strategies. It is also imperative that your
organisation makes or reconfirms a high-level commitment to the remaining
design and implementation process. The organisation may use in-house staff,
external consultants, system vendors or a combined project team to bring
some or all of the tactics to fruition.
E.6

Checklist

Check that you have:

E.7

investigated the range of tactics potentially available to your


organisation;

assessed and documented the organisational constraints that may


affect the adoption of these tactics;

selected the most appropriate combination of tactics;

established the links between the selected tactics and the requirements
they are intended to address (Step C);

developed an overall design strategy to bring the tactics to fruition


(including a framework for change management); and

obtained management support for your recommended strategy or


documented managements decision not to proceed, and the rationale
behind it.

Whats next?

After completing Step E you may now move on to Step F Design of a


recordkeeping system, where the components (or tactics) agreed to in this
step are combined to form a blueprint for implementation (Step G).

18

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DIRKS manual Step E

Endnotes

1.

These approaches are based on the work of David Bearman. See Electronic
Evidence: Strategies for Managing Records in Contemporary Organizations,
Archives & Museum Informatics, Pittsburgh, 1994. As noted in the Issues
section above, the terms used to label these approaches may cause confusion
with other parts of the DIRKS process.

2.

The National Archives of Canada has experimented with this design tactic,
see John McDonald, Recordkeeping Systems: Lessons Learned from the
Experience of the Canadian Federal Government, paper presented to the
1999 conference of the Australian Society of Archivists, published online at
www.archivists.org.au/events/conf99/mcdonald.html

3.

International Standard ISO 15489, Records Management, Polices and


Responsibilities, Clause 6.1.

4.

International Standard ISO 15489, Records Management, Policies and


Responsibilities, Clause 6.2.

5.

Charles M Dollar, Authentic Electronic Records: Strategies for Long-term Access,


Cohasset Associates, Chicago, 1999, p. 81.

19

STEP F
DESIGN OF A
RECORDKEEPING
SYSTEM
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy Statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step F

CONTENTS

F.1

WHAT IS SYSTEM DESIGN?

F.2

WHY IS THIS STEP NECESSARY? ISNT THE WHOLE


DIRKS PROCESS ABOUT DESIGN?

F.3

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES

F.4

DESIGNING A RECORDKEEPING SYSTEM

F.4.1
F.4.2
F.4.3
F.4.4
F.4.5
F.4.6
F.4.7
F.4.8
F.4.9
F.5

Establish and maintain recordkeeping policies


Assign recordkeeping responsibilities
(Re)design work processes
Produce design documentation
Design electronic or hybrid systems for records
creation, capture and control
Develop guidelines and operating procedures
Conduct regular design reviews
Develop initial training plan
Prepare initial system implementation plan

ISSUES
F.5.1
F.5.2

7
8
8
9
10
13
14
15
15
16

Determining the limits of user participation in


the design process
Determining where design stops and implementation
begins

16
16

F.6

CHECKLIST

17

F.7

WHATS NEXT?

17

ENDNOTES

17
3

National Archives of Australia

F.1

DIRKS manual Step F

WHAT IS SYSTEM DESIGN?


The design process involves producing a viable plan, or blueprint, that
satisfies previously articulated requirements in an acceptable manner. In the
context of DIRKS, the design step involves converting the strategies and
tactics selected in Step E into a blueprint for a recordkeeping system that
addresses:

the recordkeeping requirements identified and documented during


Step C; and

any recordkeeping inadequacies or gaps identified during Step D.

A good system also needs appropriate supporting infrastructure, such as


people and processes as well as tools and technology. Therefore this step is
likely to involve:

designing changes to current systems, processes and practices;

adapting or integrating technological solutions; and

determining how best to incorporate these changes to improve


recordkeeping across your organisation.

System development projects often incorporate two important design


practices:

taking an iterative approach; and

involving users in the process.

This means that, throughout the design phase, you check elements of the
design against the recordkeeping requirements, ask users for feedback on
elements that affect them, and make progressive, documented changes to the
design until requirements are satisfied and users are happy.
The nature of this step will vary greatly depending on the strategies selected
in Step E. For example, you may have decided to:

revise existing policies and procedures relating to recordkeeping in the


organisation;

improve the recordkeeping functionality of existing systems in your


organisation in conjunction with increased training and
communication of recordkeeping responsibilities;

develop and implement a new records system for high-risk areas of the
organisation; or

develop and implement a new records system for the entire


organisation.

For this step, consider the overall strategy developed in Step E and
determine which of the following activities will help bring it to fruition:

establish and maintain recordkeeping policies (Section E.4.1);

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step F

assign recordkeeping roles and responsibilities (Section E.4.2);

(re)design work processes (Section E.4.3);

produce design documentation (Section E.4.4);

design electronic or hybrid systems for record creation, capture and


control (Section E.4.5);

develop recordkeeping guidelines and operating procedures (E.4.6);

conduct regular design reviews (E.4.7);

develop initial training plans (E.4.8); and/or

prepare a system implementation plan (E.4.9).

You may wish to approach this step as a single project, or use the tools in this
step to support a number of projects to improve recordkeeping in your
organisation.
F.2

WHY IS THIS STEP NECESSARY? ISNT THE WHOLE DIRKS


PROCESS ABOUT DESIGN?
It is sometimes difficult in practice to see where determining recordkeeping
strategies ends (Step E) and designing systems to incorporate those strategies
begins (Step F). This is particularly the case when taking an iterative
approach to system development.
In Step E you selected the mix of strategies that would best meet your
organisations recordkeeping requirements. In this step you make choices
about how the individual strategies selected in Step E should be put together
to create the most effective solution. This step involves recordkeeping
professionals and other experts working with users to produce specifications
that best meet:

requirements (ie the identified need to create, capture, maintain and


dispose of records);

organisational constraints (ie cultural, technical, economic and


sociopolitical factors); and

user requirements (ie does not hinder day-to-day work, and is


understandable and useable).

The net result will be a blueprint for organisational recordkeeping that will
form the basis for implementation (Step G) and be acceptable to employees.
The extent to which you can involve users and take an iterative approach
during the design phase will depend on time and cost constraints.
Nevertheless, as with other aspects of records systems design, adopting such
practices will help ensure that:

recordkeeping requirements are feasible and consistent;

recordkeeping requirements are satisfied;


5

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step F

changes to requirements and the design are adequately documented;

users develop a sense of system ownership through involvement


during its development; and

users understand the system and use it as it is intended to be used.

Outputs of the step will depend on the strategies and tactics chosen in Step E.
Outputs may include:

F.3

design project plans, showing tasks, responsibilities and time lines;

reports detailing the outcomes of periodic design reviews;

documentation of changes to requirements, signed off by both user


and project team representatives;

design descriptions, in narrative form, which can be easily understood


by system users and other stakeholders;

diagrams representing system architectures and components;

detailed specifications to build or acquire technological components


such as software and hardware;

plans showing how the design will integrate with existing systems and
processes;

new policies, plans and procedures,

initial training and testing plans; and

an initial implementation plan.

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES


In order to prepare a blueprint for recordkeeping you will need:

personnel with recordkeeping expertise;

personnel with IT expertise;

personnel with modelling and analytical skills relevant to your


business activities;

representative experts from relevant business areas (eg functional


managers or operational staff);

representative users; and

personnel with an understanding of corporate governance (eg legal,


audit and data security specialists).

As with other stages in the DIRKS process, members of your project team
may be drawn from both within and outside the organisation depending on
the nature of the project and available expertise.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step F

Before starting Step F it is essential that you:

complete Steps A to E;

decide on a model for overall systems design (Steps E); and

develop and get approval for a business case for the design of a new
system (Appendix 9 Guide to developing a business case).

It is very difficult to design a successful recordkeeping system if you do not


know and understand your organisations recordkeeping requirements and
organisational constraints. At the very least, you will waste a lot of time
backtracking and re-doing tasks before you accomplish a successful
implementation. The work you do during this step must address as closely as
possible the specific requirements, deficiencies and strategies documented
during Steps C, D and E. You will also need the recordkeeping tools such
as thesauruses and disposal authorities derived from Steps A and B. It is
therefore strongly recommended that you do not start at this step unless you
have access to the information, knowledge and products arising from the
earlier stages.
F.4

DESIGNING A RECORDKEEPING SYSTEM


The design or redesign of a system that needs to keep records incorporates a
number of major activities, which must be conducted within agreed system
development and change management frameworks. These activities can be
mixed and matched depending on the situation within your organisation.
This means that not all of these activities need to be conducted in the order
shown in many cases, activities can be conducted concurrently. In some
circumstances, not all activities will be applicable. Choose the activities that
are needed to develop the strategies selected in Step E.

F.4.1 Establish and maintain recordkeeping policies

As foreshadowed in Step E, it is important to establish and maintain a


corporate recordkeeping policy framework. Your organisation may already
have a policy framework in place. If so, old recordkeeping policies should be
reviewed and updated as necessary. If not, new policies should be
developed. The aim is to provide up-to-date corporate guidance on the
various aspects of recordkeeping that have been identified in previous steps.
For example, you may establish policies on one or more of the following:

recordkeeping at the desktop;

email as a corporate record;

records and accountability; and

disposal of records.

Many recordkeeping policies already exist at a whole-of-government level,


such as those developed and released by the National Archives of Australia
and by the State Records Authority of NSW. You may decide to adopt these,

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step F

unchanged, within your organisation. Alternatively, you may use them as


starting points for developing your organisations own tailored
recordkeeping policies.
Your organisation may also be expected to operate under policies that have
been promulgated by another organisation within the same portfolio or
sector. Subject to your organisations recordkeeping requirements, you may
need to take into account the existence of such policies to help ensure a
consistent approach within your portfolio or sector.
F.4.2 Assign recordkeeping roles and responsibilities

In previous steps you will have determined what recordkeeping tasks need
to be performed in your organisation. Some of this functionality might lend
itself to automation in an electronic system but not all. The purpose of this
activity is to determine who is responsible for specific recordkeeping tasks.
This includes assigning responsibilities for quality control someone must
be responsible for ensuring that recordkeeping tasks are not only performed,
but also performed correctly.
In some cases, you may assign responsibilities to a particular individual or
staff position. In other cases, you may assign responsibilities to particular
work groups or sections or to all staff across the organisation. Regardless of
the persons, positions or sections assigned to particular responsibilities, you
must ensure that all recordkeeping roles and responsibilities are clearly
documented. This will help ensure accountability for recordkeeping actions
(or inaction).
The activity of assigning roles and responsibilities should be conducted in
conjunction with any work flow or business process (re)design (Section F.4.3)
being undertaken. New or redesigned processes will result in the creation of
new roles and responsibilities across the business area or organisation
concerned.
This activity also provides input to the development of training (F.4.8).
Tailored training will need to be developed for any person or area with a
particular recordkeeping role or responsibility. For example, if action officers
are expected to place emails and other electronic records on files in the
organisations new electronic records system, training will need to be
provided to assist them in:

determining what is or is not a record in the electronic environment;

creating and naming files in the electronic records system; and

capturing electronic records (that may be created using a variety of


authoring applications) into the records system.

This will be especially important if action officers have never had


responsibility for capturing records or creating files, or if your organisation is
moving from a paper-based to an electronic recordkeeping system.

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DIRKS manual Step F

F.4.3 (Re)design work processes

Based on your analysis of organisational structures, business activities,


processes and systems, and identification of recordkeeping requirements, it
may be necessary to:

design new processes and work flows that incorporate recordkeeping


functionality; and/or

redesign existing processes and work flows to incorporate


recordkeeping functionality.

This can include both manual work processes and processes that use
automated work flow software. Changing work flows and processes to
address recordkeeping inadequacies may also be a catalyst for other changes
to the way things are done in the organisation. It may become clear that
changes should be made to business processes to eliminate existing
problems, such as:

information bottlenecks and duplication;

information double-handling; and

inability to quickly locate and retrieve important information


(including records).

The design or redesign of business processes to incorporate recordkeeping


tasks may, in fact, be just one facet of a major business process re-engineering
(BPR) exercise.
Changes to business processes will result in the creation of new, or the
modification of old, business rules. More importantly, for staff, it will result
in new ways of working. Changes to business processes must have clear
management backing, and be supported by:

the assignment and documentation of new roles and responsibilities;

timely modification or development of guidelines and operating


procedures; and

training in new responsibilities, processes and procedures.

There is significant potential for this activity to cause major disruption to


staff (and, hence, to the organisations business). Any redesign of work flows
and business processes should be handled sensitively and within a change
management framework.
F.4.4 Produce design documentation

In most design projects documentation is an ongoing and prolific activity.


System design documentation is developed progressively at different stages
(or milestones) in the design process. Each design solution generated by the
project team or tendered by an external party should incorporate extensive
design documentation, including:

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design diaries, detailing original design decisions and rationale, and


documenting changes made to the design over time;

introductory, non-technical design descriptions addressing senior


management, staff and other stakeholders;

descriptions of redesigned or newly designed business processes;

logical and physical models of different aspects of the system;

metadata specifications;

structured, precise hardware and software design specification(s),


addressing computer system developers and vendors;

initial testing plans;

initial training plans; and

a skeletal system implementation plan.

F.4.5 Design electronic or hybrid systems for records creation, capture


and control

Depending on the strategies selected in Step E, it may be necessary to design


significant electronic components for your records system, incorporate
recordkeeping functionality into existing systems or to integrate some
automation into existing paper-based systems. This part of the system design
may be conducted by:

the IT and business analysis staff on your project team;

external consultants;

system vendors; or

a combination of the above.

Even if you have no interest or expertise in technical design you must


nevertheless be prepared to provide a professional opinion on the
recordkeeping functionality of the electronic system as it is being designed.
Ask questions or speak out if it appears that the recordkeeping functionality
of the system is being compromised. A formal design review is a good forum
at which to bring up problems or concerns you might have regarding either
recordkeeping functionality or system useability, irrespective of whether you
are designing electronic, paper-based or hybrid systems.
It is not the purpose of this step to describe in detail the different modelling
tools used in computer system design as there are many authoritative books
and articles available on these matters. [1] The following outline simply
provides a brief introduction to the process and focuses on:

10

determining whether to buy or build;

conducting logical systems design;

conducting physical systems design; and

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DIRKS manual Step F

developing a systems testing plan.

You will notice that some of the activities are similar to those carried out as
part of the larger system design process.
F.4.5.1 Determine whether to buy, build or both
When you determined your overall design strategy in Steps A and E, you
made some choices (at a broad level) regarding the best mix of buy and
build. However, the choices you made then were concerned with the entire
system design process, not just the technological components of the design. It
is still necessary to determine whether:

existing in-house technology can be utilised;

additional technology should be bought and/or tailored; or

additional technology should be designed and by whom.

The recordkeeping requirements that you articulated in Step C will indicate


the complexity and scope of the technological components that your
organisation needs. Cost, flexibility, and speed of integration and
implementation are factors likely to influence key decisions about the
technology you adapt, acquire or design as part of the records system. In
addition, the decisions made here will influence the physical design (Section
F.4.5.3) of the system.
F.4.5.2 Conduct logical system design
Logical design pertains to the what and when of a system, that is, its
functions and processes. It focuses on what the system should do, and how it
should appear to the users. Logical design involves the use of various
conventions and modelling tools to translate the requirements identified and
documented in Steps C and E and the generic characteristics in Part 1,
Section 4 Characteristics of systems that keep records into detailed
technical specifications for system inputs, outputs, interfaces and data stores.
Logical design includes the design of:

forms and templates, such as metadata templates, which enable the


presentation and collection of information;

user interfaces, such as menus and dialogue boxes, which enable users
to interact with a system; and

data stores, such as databases, which enable data or information


objects to be stored in a structured way.

During the logical design of an electronic system, users need to be actively


involved in reviewing the design to verify that the system is useable and
continues to meet requirements as it evolves.

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DIRKS manual Step F

F.4.5.3 Conduct physical system design


Physical design deals with the how and where of a system. It involves
specifying the technological characteristics of the system, including:

overall system structure;

system integration;

software program structures,

hardware configuration; and

data (information) processing, storage, access and protection.

It is strongly recommended that organisations specify and adopt open


systems architecture and non-proprietary information technology standards
to manage electronic records required for long-term access. [2]
Note that system integration can include:

integration with existing electronic systems or applications (for


example, an organisations legacy system, current electronic document
management system or suite of document authoring applications); and

integration of specific recordkeeping tools (such as thesauruses,


disposal authorities, or metadata creation tools) to enhance the
recordkeeping functionality of the system.

A system integration plan should be compiled for use during the


implementation phase (Step G). This plan is similar in concept and structure
to the system implementation plan, but it relates only to the technological
components of the system.
Decisions made in earlier steps about whether to buy, build or combine both
approaches will impact on the physical design of the system. In one sense,
these decisions really constitute a part of the physical design. Inevitably, the
choice of particular technologies will place constraints on the functional
capabilities of the system being designed.
It is possible that, during physical design, problems or errors will occur
which can be traced back to the logical design stage. This may reflect
inconsistencies in the requirements. Even at this late stage, you need to
continue consulting with users, gathering additional information and, where
necessary, making and documenting changes to the requirements and/or the
system design.
As the final design activity before system implementation, physical design
provides the last opportunity to ensure that the system design is consistent,
complete, and meets your organisations requirements. Changes to design
after this stage will prove both costly and time-consuming. It is therefore
strongly recommended that system auditors and security specialists
contribute to this activity.

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DIRKS manual Step F

F.4.5.4 Develop system testing plan


One final activity in the design of an electronic system is to develop an
overall system testing plan. This plan is a sub-element of the testing
processes referred to in Step G.
The system testing plan details the different kinds of testing that need to be
carried out during implementation of the system, and specifies what form(s)
the testing should take. Testing of electronic systems involves using test data
and scenarios to verify that each component, and the system as a whole,
works as intended under both normal and unusual circumstances. Some
examples of what needs to be tested during the implementation of an
electronic recordkeeping system, or during the incorporation of
recordkeeping functionality into an existing system, include:

system functionality (Does the system do what it is required to do?);

system integration (How well do the different components work


together?);

user interfaces (Are menus, forms and templates understandable and


useable?);

validation of inputs and outputs (Does the system produce or allow


the entry of erroneous data?); and

system response and recovery times (How quickly does the system
perform tasks; how long does it take to recover from crashes or
interruptions?).

System operating procedures will also need to undergo testing to ensure


correctness, useability and clarity.
F.4.6 Develop recordkeeping guidelines and operating procedures

In accordance with the strategies selected in Step E, during this step you will
need to revise or draft guidelines and procedures for staff to follow when
carrying out recordkeeping tasks. The guidelines and procedures should be
based on business rules and processes for organisational recordkeeping, and
constructed around defined recordkeeping roles and responsibilities. This
means that recordkeeping guidelines and procedures should be developed in
conjunction with (re)designing work processes and assigning recordkeeping
roles and responsibilities. Recordkeeping requirements are more likely to be
met if they are incorporated into standard guidelines for particular tasks or
business areas, rather than being a separate set of rules. If significant
redesign of organisational processes is required to incorporate recordkeeping
tasks and assign new roles and responsibilities, you will be unable to
develop the procedures and guidelines until this other work is nearly
completed. However, if little change is required in these areas, you can start
work much earlier.

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If existing guidelines and procedures are reasonably up-to-date, and changes


to processes and responsibilities are not expected to be major, you may only
need to review the current set and make small modifications to it.
You need to develop guidelines and procedures from scratch if:

there were previously none in place;

those in place are significantly out of date;

changes to business rules, processes and responsibilities are extensive;


or

your organisation is moving from a wholly paper-based to an


electronic recordkeeping system.

You should work with personnel involved in the design of electronic systems
for recordkeeping to identify, as early as possible, which tasks will be
manual and which automated. Responsibility for the development of
operating procedures may be divided between different team members or
parties on the basis of whether a particular task or process is manual or
automated.
As with the other components that are designed for use by people, you need
to gain user feedback on the layout and clarity of the guidelines and
procedures as they are being developed.
F.4.7 Conduct regular design reviews

Iterative design and the involvement of users in the design process can prove
highly effective in ensuring the development of a successful system. During
Step F, in-house project team members and/or external consultants need
feedback from system users about the system components that affect them.
Design reviews, both formal and informal, provide a useful means of
eliciting feedback.
The purpose of design reviews is to walk users through the design of
particular components or to demonstrate a functional aspect that has been
incorporated into the system. Formal design reviews are generally held at
critical stages in the design process, such as the completion of the design of a
major system component. For example, a formal review may follow the
(re)design of a complete set of work flows and processes for a particular
work group. The designers will go through their design, explain what they
have done and why they have chosen to do it that way, and show how the
design meets requirements. Users and other stakeholders are then given the
opportunity to ask questions, comment, criticise or suggest alternatives to the
design.
Design reviews help to maintain links between requirements and design.
They continue the process begun with the high-level requirements audit
exercise conducted, during Step E, of mapping functional requirements to
system design components. Design reviews should enable you to find flaws

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DIRKS manual Step F

and inconsistencies in the detailed design, and to become aware of


requirements that have:

not been properly addressed;

changed; or

become infeasible due to other changes or new constraints.

Design reviews often result in requests for changes to requirements and/or


to parts of the design itself. For this reason, it is essential to document the
outcomes of the review. It is also vital that you maintain a visible
documentary trail from the requests for change to resulting changes in
requirements or design. Requested changes which are not implemented, or
which are implemented partially, must also be documented.
F.4.8 Develop initial training plan

Develop a high-level training strategy on good recordkeeping practice.


Design the structure and initial content of training for organisational staff.
Consider alternative delivery methods and determine which method(s) will
work best in your organisation.
The content of recordkeeping training may include:

recordkeeping definitions;

why good recordkeeping is important;

an overview of current organisational recordkeeping policy;

expectations of the organisation, portfolio, jurisdiction and/or sector


with regard to recordkeeping and accountability; and

staff recordkeeping roles and responsibilities.

If an electronic records system is included as part of the overall design, you


will need to consider the kinds of training and support staff will need to help
them use the system to perform recordkeeping tasks. You should produce an
initial plan which lays out a preferred formal training structure, including
on-the-job support and desktop training aids. Training methods may
include:

face-to-face training, where participants also have hands-on practice


on a live system;

online, context-sensitive help;

reference cards;

tips and hints documentation, regularly updated in response to


problems and quirks encountered by users;

user guides and manuals, in hard-copy form and/or made available on


your organisations intranet; and

user help-desk facilities.


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DIRKS manual Step F

Special one-to-one or tailored training may also be required for managerial


staff or select groups of users with particular responsibilities.
Even at this early stage of training development, you should keep in mind
principles of good user interface design. This will help ensure that both
online and hard-copy training material is easy for users to read, understand
and digest.
F.4.9 Prepare initial system implementation plan

The system implementation plan provides a view of the various system


components (processes, procedures, people and technology), showing how
they are intended to fit together. The plan also lays out a schedule of work
for implementation and integration of the components, and identifies which
parties will be responsible for different implementation activities, such as:

site preparation;

training and education;

completion of procedural documentation;

software programming;

hardware configuration;

system testing;

pilot testing; and

full system installation.

Work on the implementation plan can be carried out in parallel with other
system design activities in this step, but it cannot be completed until all the
components have been designed.
F.5

ISSUES
There are at least two possible issues that most organisations will face during
this step:

determining the limits of user participation in the design process; and

determining where design stops and implementation begins.

F.5.1 Determining the limits of user participation in the design process

It may be difficult to decide at what stage you should forgo any further
iterations of the design a bit review and test redesign as necessary
process. Such a decision is likely to be heavily influenced by time and
budgetary constraints, as well as the need to satisfy your organisations
recordkeeping requirements as closely as possible.

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F.5.2 Determining where design stops and implementation begins

In many ways this issue is related to the broader issue of user participation.
Nonetheless, eventually you must make the decision to stop refining the
design and begin the implementation process, whether you choose to design,
review, test and implement small components of the system one at a time, or
to complete the design of the total system prior to moving on to
implementation.
As you will see in Step G Implementation of a recordkeeping system, it is
possible (and desirable) to continue to involve users in the design process
prior to full system implementation through such mechanisms as system
pilots and phased system implementations.
F.6

CHECKLIST
Before proceeding further check that you have:

F.7

involved staff and other stakeholders in the design process by asking


for their feedback on relevant system components (such as policies,
processes, roles and responsibilities, guidelines and procedures);

documented any changes to requirements and design components


arising from consultation;

prepared detailed design descriptions, logical and physical models,


and technical design specifications for electronic system components;

prepared a system implementation plan;

prepared an initial training plan; and

obtained management endorsement of the design process.

WHATS NEXT?
Assuming you have obtained management endorsement of the design
process, the recordkeeping system can now be implemented (Step G).

ENDNOTES
1.

There are many authoritative books and articles on the various aspects of
system design. The following is a small sample.

Britton, C and Doake, J, Software System Development: A Gentle


Introduction, 2nd edition, McGraw-Hill, London, 1996.

Hoffer, J A, George, J F and Valacich, J S, Modern Systems Analysis and


Design, Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Reading,
Massachusetts, 1996.

Kozar, K A, Humanized Information Systems Analysis and Design: People


Building Systems for People, international edition, McGraw-Hill, New
York, 1989.
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Modell, M E, A Professionals Guide to Systems Analysis, 2nd edition,


McGraw-Hill, New York, 1996

Specific advice on designing recordkeeping systems and document


management systems is provided in:

2.

Bearman, D, Managing Electronic Mail, Archives and Manuscripts, no.


22, vol. 1, May 1994, pp. 2850.

Sutton, M J D, Document Management for the Enterprise: Principles,


Techniques and Applications, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1996.

For further information on technical standards see Charles M Dollar,


Authentic Electronic Records: Strategies for Long-term Access, Cohasset
Associates, Chicago, 1999.

18

STEP G
IMPLEMENTATION
OF A
RECORDKEEPING
SYSTEM
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
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process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
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DIRKS manual Step G

CONTENTS

G.1

WHAT DOES IMPLEMENTATION INVOLVE?

G.2

BENEFITS OF PLANNING FOR IMPLEMENTATION

G.3

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES

G.4

IMPLEMENTING A SYSTEM FOR RECORDKEEPING

G.4.1
G.4.2
G.4.3
G.4.4

Select implementation strategies and techniques


Plan the implementation process
Manage the implementation
Develop a maintenance plan

6
12
13
14

G.5

ISSUES

14

G.6

CHECKLIST

15

G.7

WHATS NEXT?

15

ENDNOTES

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G.1

DIRKS manual Step G

WHAT DOES IMPLEMENTATION INVOLVE?


The purpose of Step G is to systematically identify and put in place an
appropriate mix of strategies to successfully implement the blueprint or
plan designed in Step F. That plan provided an overview of how the
various system components (processes, procedures, people and technology)
should fit together. Step G builds on the initial implementation plan
developed as part of that preceding step (See Step F, Section 4.9 Prepare
initial system implementation plan).
The nature of this step will depend on the solutions you are implementing,
whether they are new electronic systems or just new policies and procedures.
While this step is slanted towards the implementation of new systems, some
strategies and techniques outlined are equally relevant for the
implementation of other products.
To complete Step G you need to:

select an appropriate mix of implementation techniques and strategies


(Section G.4.1);

plan the implementation process (Section G.4.2);

manage the implementation of the system (Section G.4.3); and

develop a maintenance plan for the system (Section G.4.4).

G.2 BENEFITS OF PLANNING FOR IMPLEMENTATION


The integration of new or improved recordkeeping systems with office
communication systems and business processes can be a complex
undertaking with high accountability and financial stakes. Such risks can be
minimised through careful planning and documentation of the
implementation process.
By completing this step you will have:

implemented improved recordkeeping practices with minimum


disruption to business activities;

contributed to organisational requirements for quality accreditation;


and

capitalised on the long-term investment made in Steps A to F.

Outcomes of Step G may include:

a detailed project plan, outlining the mix of implementation strategies


and techniques selected (that is, documentation, communication,
training, conversion, regulation and review, quality systems and
change management), cross-referenced to relevant risk assessments;

documented policies, procedures and practices;

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DIRKS manual Step G

training materials;

documentation of the conversion process and ongoing migration


procedures;

documentation required for quality systems accreditation (if


relevant);

an audit strategy to monitor the performance of the recordkeeping


system (efficiency) and compliance with the recordkeeping
requirements (effectiveness);

performance reports regarding the implementation of each system,


practice and process; and

report(s) to management on the implementation process (these may


serve as a case study for future implementation projects).

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES


There may be management-driven imperatives to implement new or
improved systems for keeping records (or a single component, such as
records management software) without fully understanding recordkeeping
requirements and organisational constraints. The desire to start at Step G,
without the benefit of the knowledge and products arising from the earlier
steps, is likely to adversely affect system roll-out and ultimately incur
additional, and otherwise avoidable, costs (in terms of staff, time and
goodwill).
Before starting Step G you should have:

analysed recordkeeping requirements and organisational constraints


(Steps A to E);

developed any specific tools to assist your organisations records


management needs, such as a corporate thesaurus merged with
Keyword AAA (arising from Steps B and C) and functions-based
records disposal authority (derived from Steps A to C and Appendix 8
Guide to developing a disposal authority);

identified the strengths and weaknesses of your existing systems


(Step D);

agreed on a range of tactics to satisfy your organisations


recordkeeping requirements and organisational constraints (Step E);

developed a plan or blueprint that shows how the various


components (processes, procedures, people and technology) fit
together in practice, including an initial high-level implementation
plan and training strategy (Step F);

obtained management support and resources to implement the plan;


and

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acquired necessary hardware and software.

Given both the need for high accountability and the resource implications of
systems integration, it is essential to involve personnel with vested interests
in the outcome, as well as specialists, in this phase of the project.
In order to conduct this step you will need, depending on the nature of
solutions being implemented:

G.4

a project sponsor representing senior management;

personnel with strong project and change management skills;

personnel with recordkeeping expertise;

personnel with an understanding of corporate governance (eg audit


specialists);

IT specialists;

system hardware and software, and dedicated office space for


installation; and

knowledge of previous systems implementation projects within the


organisation.

IMPLEMENTING A SYSTEM FOR KEEPING RECORDS


The implementation process involves several aspects, namely, selecting a
suitable mix of strategies, systematically planning and managing the
implementation, and developing mechanisms to ensure that the system is
properly maintained. [1]

G.4.1 Select implementation strategies and techniques

There is a range of strategies and techniques you can apply to smoothly and
successfully implement new or improved systems or practices within your
organisation. Chosen carefully, these will help ensure that the ongoing
operation of your system is also managed effectively. These techniques and
strategies concern:

documentation of practices and processes (Section G.4.1.1);

communication (Section G.4.1.2);

training (Section G.4.1.3);

conversion (Section G.4.1.4);

regulation and review (Section G.4.1.5);

quality systems (Section G.4.1.6); and

change management (Section G.4.1.7).

In order to identify appropriate strategies for implementation, you will need


to take into consideration the organisational culture and other environmental
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DIRKS manual Step G

influences or constraints. This will involve drawing on the information


gathered in earlier steps of DIRKS to consider the viability of a particular
strategy, or how certain strategies may be applied in combination.
Conducting risk and feasibility assessments will help you identify
appropriate strategies. Appendix 11 Risk analysis in DIRKS and Appendix
12 Recordkeeping feasibility analysis will provide assistance with these
tasks.
In a sense, parallels can be drawn here with the process of selecting tactics
for satisfying recordkeeping requirements (Step E). Choosing the mix of
strategies to use or what emphasis to place on each of them is a business
decision that needs to be made in each instance of implementation.
G.4.1.1 Documentation
This strategy refers to the documentation of policies, procedures and
practices covering all aspects of recordkeeping systems and practices in your
organisation. The documentation should be created or updated in accordance
with your organisations standards. It should be readily available and
routinely assessed as part of normal audit processes (discussed in Section
G.4.1.5). It is important for management to endorse policy statements to
demonstrate high-level support for organisational recordkeeping. Statements
of this type should anticipate and address any questions or concerns staff
may have regarding implementation.
The documentation is likely to contain references to relevant legislation and
standards as well as to other systems and policies operating in your
organisation. The documentation should serve to:

describe approved recordkeeping practices;

explicitly state the roles and responsibilities of employees;

identify unacceptable or exceptional practices and functions; and

prescribe the use of electronic business information systems for


recordkeeping purposes.

The documentation will help promulgate systems and practices (G.4.1.2),


contribute to training initiatives (G.4.1.3) and quality systems certification
(G.4.1.6), and provide evidence of compliance with standards (G.4.1.5).
Some examples of documented practices and processes may include:

a records management policy;

a procedures manual for records management staff; and

procedures for general staff relating to recordkeeping responsibilities.

Most of the recordkeeping topics requiring documentation will have been


identified in Step E Strategies for recordkeeping, and further developed in
Step F Design of a recordkeeping system. Step G involves completing the
drafting process (where required) and confirming that all topics identified in
Steps E and F have been addressed.
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G.4.1.2 Communication
It is essential that information about new or improved systems be
promulgated to staff both before and during the implementation phase. The
information you will need to communicate will include:

the existence, structure and purpose of the system;

the recordkeeping requirements and strategies on which the system is


based;

the policies and procedures that direct and support the system;

individual, group and organisational roles and responsibilities for the


system;

the time frame for the implementation of the system, including


projected milestones for conversion;

the contributions required of staff during implementation; and/or

any adjustments to implementation, including reasons for amended


time frames.

This information is likely to be disseminated in a variety of ways, such as:

general briefing sessions;

intranet sites;

newsletters;

policies and procedures;

customised training courses;

help desk support facilities;

in-house listservs; and/or

informal discussion and feedback.

The primary audience for this information will be the day-to-day users of the
system (ie records creators). The information should also be made available
to senior managers, corporate governance personnel, auditors and any other
parties that have a vested interest in the smooth and accountable operation of
the organisation, and therefore, its recordkeeping system. Establishing
support systems (such as help desks or user listservs) is crucial to successful
implementation, especially in decentralised settings. This applies equally to
operational staff using the system and those working directly on
implementing the system.
Regular communication with staff will foster their involvement in the
process, help identify issues arising from implementation, and contribute to
problem-solving. You will have communicated extensively with staff in
earlier steps as part of your research and to introduce and market the project.

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DIRKS manual Step G

Communication in this step is focused on ensuring that all staff who will be
exposed to new systems and practices are informed about them.
G.4.1.3 Training
This strategy is designed to ensure that staff affected by the implementation
of new systems and practices are informed, supported and equipped with
the appropriate skills and experience. Training is integral to the successful
management of the implementation process.
Previous steps identified various broad training needs (Step E) and the
development of a high-level training plan, including its overall structure,
general content and delivery options (Step F). Step G involves the
development, refinement and delivery of a comprehensive training package.
Decisions about the level and type of training to offer staff will largely
depend on their role in relation to recordkeeping, and the knowledge and
skills required to carry out that role. It is therefore important that you collect
information regarding current levels of knowledge and expertise in order to
assess individual, work group and organisational training needs. Some of
this information may have emerged when you analysed your organisations
business activities (Step B) or surveyed existing systems and practices in Step
D. Further information can be obtained from:

interviews;

observation;

job analysis;

quality control and performance appraisal reports; and

surveys (such as a skills audit).

Conducting a skills audit (or needs analysis) of your organisation will help
you to determine the role(s) performed by individual staff, work groups or
programs, and to identify the gap between the knowledge and skills they
currently have and what they need to do their job competently with respect
to recordkeeping. The Australian National Training Authoritys recordkeeping
competency standards, within the Business Services Training Package (2001)
can help you to identify the kinds of knowledge and skills required to
achieve certain recordkeeping competencies. A skills audit can be a complex
procedure and qualified staff should be involved in its design and analysis to
ensure that problems and solutions are properly identified. For example, a
skills audit may identify management as well as training needs. It is
important to distinguish these issues and address them accordingly.
Once a need has been established, the specific content of the training can be
determined and developed. Delivery options will depend on the nature of
the training required and the organisations capacity to develop and present
relevant material. Options may include:

courses developed and presented in-house;

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step G

tailored courses prepared and provided by external consultants;

presentations by records management software vendors;

vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate courses in archives and


records management conducted by TAFE, university and other tertiary
institutions (see the Records Management of Association of Australia
website for a list of professional development courses); and

short courses, seminars and other forms of continuing education


offered by archival authorities, tertiary institutions and professional
associations.

In-house training may take a variety of forms, for example:

briefings;

face-to-face training, where participants also have hands-on practice


on a live system;

online, context-sensitive help;

reference cards and charts;

tips and hints documentation, regularly updated in response to


problems and quirks encountered by users;

user guides and manuals, in hard-copy form or made available on


your organisations intranet; and

user help desk facilities.

Briefing sessions and face-to-face training may be focused specifically on


recordkeeping topics or integrated into more general staff training (such as
employee induction programs), depending on user needs. Induction
programs, for example, offer a good opportunity to ensure that all new staff
receive basic training in recordkeeping, and understand their responsibilities
in the overall operation of the system.
Training programs developed in-house or by external providers should be
well planned, explicitly supported by management and delivered in a timely
manner. Materials produced for the training program are likely to draw on
documented policies, procedures and practices, contribute to the revision of
such documentation over time (Section G.4.1.1), and remain an ongoing
resource for your organisation.
G.4.1.4 Conversion
Conversion is the process of changing from an existing system to a new one.
This technique will ensure that your organisations records systems (and
therefore the records needed to meet business, accountability and
community requirements) remain useable over time and that any conversion
processes are fully documented. It concerns the conversion of legacy systems
as well as the future migration capability of your new or improved systems.
[2]
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Conversion may be full or partial and may involve changes between paper
and electronic systems. The identification, selection and conversion of vital
records is an important part of this strategy. [3] There are four main
conversion or changeover methods to consider:

Direct changeover where the new system is introduced at an agreed


time without any gradual implementation. The risks of failure or
extended downtime are high but the operational costs are low due to
the maintenance of only a single recordkeeping system.

Parallel operation where the new and old system run in tandem for
an agreed time. This represents a conservative but potentially
expensive approach, as dual systems must be maintained.

Pilot operation where the new system is implemented initially only


for a discrete portion of the organisation. This approach is particularly
useful when there are potentially high technological or organisational
risks associated with the project.

Phased changeover where only certain modules of the new system


are implemented over time and the old system is phased out as
functions are successfully subsumed by the new system. This approach
may result in a lengthy implementation period, but enables
organisations to achieve some benefits from the new system more
rapidly than under other strategies. [4]

Irrespective of the conversion method, there are a number of phases in a


conversion project, namely selection, pre-conversion, testing, training,
implementation and follow-up. Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records
Management outlines some of the issues associated with these phases and can
provide further guidance on managing your conversion. [5] Other
implementation strategies such as training and documenting will also
contribute to your organisations conversion project.
G.4.1.5 Regulation and review
This strategy relates to the ongoing monitoring or auditing of the
recordkeeping system to assess its performance. Such audits help ensure
organisational accountability and should be built into normal program
evaluations to minimise disruption to business. An audit program should:

cover all aspects of recordkeeping (ie people, processes, tools,


technology);

specify the performance indicators (or criteria) used to analyse


efficiency and effectiveness the criteria must be objective, verifiable
and quantifiable (to allow for comparison over time);

assign responsibility for the conduct and reporting of the audit;

specify the methods for collecting information (eg inspection,


observation, inquiry, and computation);

specify the period and frequency of reviews; and


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DIRKS manual Step G

provide a structured report that can be used for comparative purposes


over time. The report may be as simple as a table that lists the aspects
of the recordkeeping system you wish to measure, with columns for a
yes/no answer and comments. The checklist for performance testing
of records management systems in AS 4390 provides a useful example
of this report format. [6]

Organisations seeking further generic advice on audit processes should


consult th (PDF 93K) available from the NSW Office of Information
Technology website.
This strategy is closely linked to Step H Post-implementation review, and
may be considered preliminary work for that phase.
G.4.1.6 Quality systems
Organisations seeking to comply with international quality management
standards need to be aware of requirements for the creation of quality
records (ie documentation) to support the operation of quality systems.
This means that the systems and processes that generate quality records
must themselves be adequately documented. The current International
Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9000 family of standards outlines a
range of factors that denote quality records for accreditation purposes
(particularly ISO 9000: Quality Management Systems Fundamentals and
Vocabulary, ISO: ISO 9001: Quality Management Systems Requirements, and
ISO 9004: Quality Management Systems Guidance for Performance Improvement,
see the International Standards Organization website).
Documentation of recordkeeping system policies, procedures and practices
(Section G.4.1.1) as well as the documentation of the system implementation
process (Section G.4.2) will contribute to your organisations ability to meet
requirements for quality accreditation.
Organisations are encouraged to consult Standards Australia for further
information.
G.4.1.7 Change management
Recordkeeping projects inevitably involve various changes in organisational
responsibilities, work practices and procedures. The capacity to actively
manage these changes will determine the success of any implementation
process. Both individual staff and the organisation as a whole will tend to be
comfortable with old and familiar ways. Organisations must be aware of the
issues involved in change and be prepared to deal with them. Training (ie
user education), documentation and communication are important ways to
foster acceptance of change. Organisations seeking further advice on
marketing and managing change should consult Part 1, Section 7 Before
starting DIRKS.

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DIRKS manual Step G

G.4.2 Plan the implementation process

The implementation process, like any other project, requires sound


management to ensure that it is conducted efficiently and effectively. Most
organisations will be familiar with principles of project management and
may have their own methodologies and management standards in place.
Organisations seeking further advice should refer to Part 1 Users guide of
this manual or consult the Project management guideline available from the
list of guidelines on the NSW Office of Information Technology website.
The implementation plan itself should be adequately documented,
communicated and accessible to staff. Changes made to the plan at any time
must also be identified and documented for accountability and auditing
purposes.
G.4.3 Manage the implementation

The actual implementation of the recordkeeping system will vary from


organisation to organisation. Nonetheless, a number of activities are likely to
be relevant to all organisations. These include:

informing staff about the implementation timetable and how it affects


them and the organisation as a whole;

distributing endorsed policies and procedures to staff;

reviewing the skill levels of staff and making decisions on training;

selecting and appointing staff with records management


responsibilities, and implementing a new staffing structure within the
records management area;

training records management staff and establishing a help desk and


any other support structures and products in preparation for user
education;

conducting training programs for staff;

converting existing systems (depending on conversion strategy),


including vital records;

establishing an ongoing program for appraisal and disposal (eg


sentencing, destroying or transferring existing records in accordance
with disposal authorisations and organisational priorities);

establishing procedures for the intellectual control of records (for


example, using metadata standards and a corporate thesaurus merged
with Keyword AAA);

assigning access rights to records according to types and levels of


security;

reviewing storage facilities for physical records, and storage media for
electronic records;

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DIRKS manual Step G

surveying the current location of physical records, transferring


essential metadata in the records system, and establishing an ongoing
census program for physical records;

instituting and testing a disaster response plan;

testing each system, practice or process;

preparing and circulating progress reports to staff; and

preparing regular progress reports for management, noting any


resourcing issues. [7]

G.4.4 Develop a maintenance plan

The implementation plan must incorporate provisions for the ongoing


maintenance of the recordkeeping system. This need should be largely
fulfilled by the development of specific policy and procedures (Section
G.4.1.1) as well as by performance testing and audit strategies (Section
G.4.1.5).
The maintenance plan should cover all the tools that have been developed to
assist in recordkeeping, not just the electronic systems. It is necessary to
develop procedures for the maintenance and updating of:

G.5

business classification schemes;

corporate thesaurus;

recordkeeping requirements;

disposal authorities;

policies and procedures; and

training materials.

ISSUES
As with Step F, it can be difficult to determine where implementation begins
and planning/design stops. Nonetheless, you must eventually make the
decision to begin the implementation process and stop refining the design,
whether you choose to design, review, test and implement small components
of the system one at a time, or to complete the design of the total system
prior to moving on to implementation.
Implementation projects rely on a combination of human, financial and
technical factors. Any of these variables may affect the smooth integration of
new or improved recordkeeping systems and potentially jeopardise the
organisations entire operations. Most of the issues affecting implementation,
such as time lags, cost overruns and user acceptance, can be minimised by
conducting risk and feasibility assessments before the design (Step F) and
implementation (Step G) phases are begun. These investigations cannot
prevent problems from occurring, but can raise awareness about their
likelihood and provide for contingencies.

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DIRKS manual Step G

See Appendix 11 Risk analysis in DIRKS and Appendix 12 Recordkeeping


feasibility analysis for assistance in identifying and evaluating risk and
feasibility factors. Case studies of other implementation projects can also
highlight potential problems. Some references are provided in the endnotes.
[8]
The impact of any schedule slippages will vary depending on the
complexity of your recordkeeping project. Prudent planning, including
critical path analysis, will help minimise adverse effects. Obviously,
management should be informed of any slippages that are likely to have cost
implications for your organisation.
G.6

CHECKLIST
Before proceeding further check that you have:

G.7

engaged a representative of senior management to act as sponsor;

established a project team and/or steering committee that includes


relevant stakeholders and experts;

selected an appropriate mix of implementation strategies and


techniques based on risk, cost-benefit and feasibility assessments;

identified all the activities associated with each of the strategies;

developed a project plan to manage the implementation process;

implemented and tested systems, processes and practices according to


the project plan; and

formally reported on the implementation process to the project


sponsor, steering committee and staff.

WHATS NEXT?
After you have completed this step and implemented your recordkeeping
solutions you should proceed to Step H Post-implementation review, to
evaluate the efficiency of the development process and the effectiveness of
your organisations new or improved recordkeeping practices.

ENDNOTES
1.

There are many authoritative texts on the various aspects of system design.
The following sample provides useful background on generic
implementation issues.

Burch, J G, Systems Analysis, Design, and Implementation, Boyd & Fraser,


Boston, 1992.

Martin, W, Brown, C, DeHayes, D, Hoffer, J and Perkins, W, Managing


Information Technology: What Managers Need to Know, Prentice Hall,
Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 1999.
15

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DIRKS manual Step G

McConnell, S, Rapid Development, Microsoft Press, Seattle, 1996.

Rob, P and Coronel, C, Database Systems: Design, Implementation and


Management, 2nd edition, Boyd & Fraser, Boston, 1995.

Shelly, G B, Cashman, T J, Adamski, J and Adamski, J J, Systems


Analysis and Design, Boyd & Fraser, Boston, 1991.

Taylor, D A, Business Engineering with Object Technology, John Wiley &


Sons, New York, 1995.

Whitten, J L, Bentley, L D and Barlow, V M, Systems Analysis and


Design Methods, Irwin, Burr Ridge, Illinois, 1994.

For case studies on systems implementation specifically relating to


recordkeeping, see Judith Ellis (ed.), Selected Essays in Electronic Recordkeeping
in Australia, Australian Society of Archivists, Canberra, 2000.
2.

For further information on technical obsolescence and the importance of


non-proprietary standards see Charles M Dollar, Authentic Electronic Records:
Strategies for Long-term Access, Cohasset Associates, Chicago, 1999.

3.

For further information on the identification and protection of vital records,


see Jay Kennedy and Cherryl Schauder, Records Management: A Guide to
Corporate Recordkeeping , 2nd edition, Longman, South Melbourne, 1998,
Chapter 11.

4.

The conversion process is a routine component of systems development


projects. For a brief overview see W Martin, C Brown, D DeHayes, J Hoffer
and W Perkins, Managing Information Technology: What Managers Need to
Know, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 1999, pp. 4034.

5.

Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 3: Strategies,


Appendix B.

6.

Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 3: Strategies,


Appendix C.

7.

These activities are based on Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records


Management, Part 3: Strategies, Appendix A, Clause A2.5.

8.

Implementation issues are canvassed in C Sauer, Why Information Systems


Fail: A Case Study Approach, Alfred Waller Ltd, Henley-on-Thames, 1993.

16

STEP H
POSTIMPLEMENTATION
REVIEW
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy Statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step H

CONTENTS

H.1

WHAT IS A POST-IMPLEMENTATION REVIEW?

H.2

BENEFITS OF EVALUATING PERFORMANCE OF THE


SYSTEM AND THE DEVELOPMENTAL PROCESS

H.3

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES

H.4

CONDUCTING A POST-IMPLEMENTATIONREVIEW

H.4.1
H.4.2
H.4.3
H.4.4
H.4.5

Plan the evaluation


Collect and analyse performance data
Document and report on your findings
Take corrective action
Make arrangements for ongoing review

6
7
9
10
10

H.5

CHECKLIST

10

H.6

WHATS NEXT?

11

ENDNOTE

11

National Archives of Australia

H.1

DIRKS manual Step H

WHAT IS A POST-IMPLEMENTATION REVIEW?


The purpose of Step H is to measure the effectiveness of recordkeeping
practices, focusing on the solutions implemented, against the recordkeeping
requirements and organisational constraints defined in Steps C to E. You
should also evaluate the efficiency and appropriateness of the development
process (especially Steps F and G), recommend and undertake any remedial
action to address deficiencies, and establish a monitoring regime for the
duration of the system or related components. It involves interviewing
management, staff and other stakeholders; conducting surveys; examining
documentation developed during the earlier phases of the project; and
observing and randomly checking operations.
To complete Step H you need to:

H.2

plan the evaluation, including assessment criteria (Section H.4.1);

collect and analyse performance data (Section H.4.2);

document and report on your findings to management (Section H.4.3);

take corrective action (Section H.4.4); and

make arrangements for ongoing review (Section H.4.5).

BENEFITS OF EVALUATING PERFORMANCE OF THE SYSTEM


AND THE DEVELOPMENTAL PROCESS
To date, your project has involved a considerable investment of resources
time, money, staff and goodwill. It is important to demonstrate to
management and other stakeholders with a vested interest in organisational
accountability that the developmental process has been conducted efficiently,
and that the new or improved recordkeeping systems and practices have the
capacity to deliver stated benefits in the short and long term. A postimplementation review can provide such assurance.
By completing the initial post-implementation review and conducting
periodic checks you will:

help guarantee a continuing return on the organisations investment by


maintaining the recordkeeping system to optimal levels of
performance throughout its life cycle;

have objective proof that your organisation is creating and managing


appropriate evidence of its business activities in accordance with
operational, accountability and community expectations;

minimise your organisations exposure to risk through system failure;


and

over time, anticipate significant changes in recordkeeping


requirements and organisational needs that necessitate a new
developmental cycle.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step H

The scope of your post-implementation review will depend on the nature


and extent of solutions implemented.
Outcomes of Step H include:

H.3

a methodology to objectively assess your recordkeeping system(s);

documentation regarding the performance of the system and the


developmental process that can be used for comparative purposes in
the future; and

a report to management documenting your findings and


recommendations.

RESOURCES AND PREREQUISITES


In order to undertake the post-implementation review you will need:

a senior project manager;

team members with analytical, interpersonal and communication


skills, preferably familiar with recordkeeping and audit principles and
processes and the IT sector;

predefined performance benchmarks; and

access to the records system (subject to security clearances) and


supporting documentation.

In order to avoid any actual or perceived bias, the initial review should
preferably be managed by personnel independent of the design and
implementation process. This may require the appointment of a senior officer
from elsewhere in the organisation or the use of external consultants
(depending on the availability of resources, extent of in-house expertise,
scope of the review and level of risk). Other members of the review team will
need to understand the project goals, system design and implementation
documentation, and performance data collected through the monitoring
process, so that they are able to assess whether the system is adequately
meeting the organisations recordkeeping requirements and organisational
needs. Some of these members should include records management and IT
specialists.
Most of the design and implementation process should be completed before
beginning a post-implementation review. However, some aspects of Step H
can start concurrently with Step G.
H.4

CONDUCTING A POST-IMPLEMENTATION REVIEW


The specific circumstances, needs and culture of your organisation and the
nature of the project will dictate the character and timing of the review. For
example, a large organisation with multiple layers of management and
complex business activities that implemented a new, organisation-wide
electronic records system may choose to engage external consultants to
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DIRKS manual Step H

prepare an in-depth report with an executive summary. A small organisation


with few unique or high-risk functions that redeveloped policies and
procedures, implemented a thesaurus and improved staff training may opt
for peer review and an oral presentation to management. An initial review
should be carried out between six and twelve months after implementation,
and then repeated on an agreed cycle.
H.4.1 Plan the evaluation

There are various types of evaluation depending on the particular questions


you want answered. Generally, they fall into the following areas:
Appropriateness

appropriateness of solution compared to the organisations needs;

objectives compared with available resources; and

comparison of need now with original need.

Effectiveness

original objectives compared with outcomes (what was desired and


what was achieved);

outcomes compared with needs;

outcomes compared with standards;

present outcomes compared with past outcomes; and

comparison between target groups within the organisation.

Efficiency

current costs compared with past costs (ie people, processes,


technology and tools);

costs compared with similar systems elsewhere (ie benchmarking); and

extent of implementation compared with targets.

Put simply, an evaluation assesses did we do the right things? and did we
do things right? It involves setting performance indicators to measure
project outcomes (eg comparison of inputs to outputs, behavioural change,
cost savings, level of satisfaction or involvement) and the project process (eg
timeliness, teamwork, budget, satisfaction of sponsors and other
stakeholders). Ideally an evaluation framework should be developed as part
of the original design process so that performance data requirements can be
built into management and administrative processes, and the review can be
conducted with minimal intrusion on work practices or the delivery of
services.
At this point in the evaluation phase you should consider the scope of the
review, relevant performance indicators and acceptable tolerance levels, the
duration of the review and the form of reporting required. Remember that
6

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DIRKS manual Step H

you should evaluate not only any new or redesigned technological


components, but recordkeeping practices as a whole: the people, processes
and other tools such as the corporate thesaurus and records disposal
authority. Depending on the complexity of the project and the level of
resources available, it may be appropriate to conduct risk and feasibility
assessments to determine the scope and emphasis of the postimplementation review. See Appendix 11 Risk analysis in DIRKS and
Appendix 12 Recordkeeping feasibility analysis for assistance in identifying
and evaluating risk and feasibility factors.
H.4.2 Collect and analyse performance data

Key tools for assessing performance are the benchmarks developed for Step
D your identified recordkeeping requirements from Step C and required
recordkeeping functionality. These documents should set out your
organisations recordkeeping requirements (ie the need to create, capture,
maintain and dispose of records) and organisational constraints (ie cultural,
technical, economic, sociopolitical and other factors). Indeed, any reports
arising from earlier steps that include recommendations on improvements to
existing systems will help inform the review process (eg Step D). Such
documentation will help establish performance indicators and frame
questions on a range of issues such as the following:
Records creation and retrieval

Are records being created to adequately document the organisation's


business activity?

Are records being captured into appropriate systems in a timely,


accurate and complete manner?

Are records adequately preserved and accessible?

Can users retrieve the records they need?

Can users easily locate the records they need using the new system?

Does the organisations business classification scheme and thesaurus


adequately reflect functions, activities and transactions?

Management

Is systems documentation adequate for operational and maintenance


purposes?

Have audit trails been established between the old and new systems?

Have vital records and relevant control information from the old
system been converted to the new system?

Are staff still relying on unauthorised stand-alone or ad hoc systems in


preference to the new system(s)?

Are adequate security arrangements in place to protect sensitive


records (taking into account privacy and confidentiality)?
7

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DIRKS manual Step H

Is the physical security of records adequate (eg locked cabinets,


compactus)?

Has the quality and level of records-based services changed since


implementation from both the user and management perspective (eg
ease of use, precision and coverage of search and retrieval)?

How often are maintenance checks carried out?

Has the disaster response plan been tested?

Disposal

Does the organisation have comprehensive records disposal coverage?

Does the coverage satisfy the needs of the organisation?

Is it consistent with the appraisal requirements of the National


Archives of Australia?

Are the retention periods sufficient to fulfil business, accountability


and societal requirements, or do they need to be revised to longer or
shorter periods?

Are records being sentenced and disposed of appropriately?

Is there documentation to substantiate these actions (eg certificates of


destruction, retention of control records, current disposal authorities)?

Is the organisation creating any additional types of records that need to


be appraised and incorporated in its disposal coverage?

Are some of the vital records listed no longer being created?

Remember that any changes to disposal authorities need to be endorsed by


the National Archives of Australia.
Staff training

Are personnel aware of their recordkeeping roles and responsibilities


(eg through job descriptions, training)?

Do personnel have access to up-to-date policy and procedural


documentation?

What problems have personnel experienced with the new system?

Are personnel applying classification and titling conventions


appropriately and consistently?

Are personnel retrieving records using the appropriate tools?

Are staffing levels and competency skills adequate (within the records
management area and among other staff)?

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Step H

Learning from the process

Were the original terms of reference sufficiently precise to guide the


project?

Did we negotiate for sufficient resources to carry out the project?

Did we keep the key stakeholders informed and committed during the
project?

Could we improve our broad planning processes if we had to start


afresh?

Was the planning process appropriate to the projects size, complexity


and predictability?

Did our techniques for managing the project work well?

Are the stakeholders satisfied?

Did we complete the project on time?

Did we complete the project within budget?

Have we handed the project over as a going concern?

Do we need a formal sign-off?

Have we acknowledged everyone who made a contribution?

Have we celebrated our success as a team (and as an organisation)?

Organisations may also wish to consult the final phase of the Model
implementation plan and Check list for performance testing of records management
systems that appear in Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records
Management to identify other potential aspects for evaluation. [1]
Performance data can be gathered by:

interviewing stakeholders (eg project sponsor, senior management,


business experts, records management staff and representative users);

using questionnaires or surveys;

observing the system in operation;

examining procedures manuals, training materials and other


documentation;

carrying out random checks on the quality of records and control


information; and

obtaining computer-generated reports on usage figures for statistical


analysis.

H.4.3 Document and report on your findings

The performance data gathered on these issues will help you to document
any variations or deviations to requirements defined in Steps C and D,
9

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DIRKS manual Step H

review the recordkeeping strategies chosen in Step E, identify areas that


warrant priority, recommend corrective action, and propose mechanisms for
ongoing monitoring. The review process and findings should be presented to
management and a record created and retained for evidential and future
reference purposes. This record may take the form of a written report,
speaking notes or minutes. Keep in mind that circumstances may change
over time and justification for decisions made or action taken may become
very important. For this reason the review and any follow-up action should
be formally endorsed by senior management, and all project management
files and systems documentation should be brought up to date before the
project team is dispersed.
H.4.4 Take corrective action

Any necessary remedial action should be undertaken as a consequence of the


post-implementation review and the action documented. This may involve
revisiting some of the steps in the DIRKS methodology.
H.4.5 Make arrangements for ongoing review

It is important for organisations to adopt evaluation strategies that can be


used to regularly review their systems over time. All components of the
system should be periodically examined to identify changes to
recordkeeping requirements, respond to environmental changes (such as
user requirements), assess the efficiency of technological components and
anticipate the need for any modifications or systems redevelopment.
H.5

CHECKLIST
Before concluding the systems development process, ensure that you have:

10

identified and documented performance indicators for the system and


process;

identified methods to collect performance data for the initial and


subsequent reviews;

gathered performance data;

assessed whether the system is satisfying recordkeeping requirements


and working within organisational constraints;

produced substantiating documentation;

assessed the design and implementation process and documented


costs and benefits;

reviewed the conversion strategy, process and audit trail;

verified the existence, currency and comprehensiveness of technical,


user and training documentation (including policies, procedures,
records disposal authorities);

National Archives of Australia

H.6

DIRKS manual Step H

prepared a report for management on the status of the system and


recommendations for improvement (including staffing issues);

initiated remedial action endorsed by management; and

established an ongoing cycle of reviews of recordkeeping.

WHATS NEXT?
Most systems require significant redevelopment after four to ten years of
operation to accommodate changes in organisational practices, business
needs and technological infrastructure. At this point organisations should
review Steps A to D of the DIRKS methodology.

ENDNOTE
1.

See Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 3:


Strategies, Appendix A, Clause A2.6 and Appendix C.

11

PART 3
APPENDIXES

September 2001

APPENDIX 1
GUIDE TO
DOCUMENTARY
SOURCES
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 1 Documentary sources

APPENDIX 1
GUIDE TO DOCUMENTARY SOURCES
The preliminary investigation (Step A), analysis of business activity (Step B) and
identification of recordkeeping requirements (Step C) all involve an examination of
sources to fully understand the nature of your organisations business and the
context of its recordkeeping systems. The amount of fundamental research that you
undertake will depend on your level of corporate knowledge and the availability
and currency of pre-existing reports on relevant facets of the organisation.
Organisation-specific sources

The most useful starting points for your research are publicly available sources such
as World Wide Web sites, annual reports and corporate plans that provide an
overview of your organisation and its broad functions. These sources are intended
for a general audience and do not assume a detailed knowledge of your
organisation. They will guide you to other significant sources (such as legislation)
and should provide the necessary foundation to help you understand the
information contained in these other documents. These general sources may be
particularly useful to consultants undertaking documentary research on your
behalf.
World Wide Web sites
Most organisations maintain websites that contain information about their activities,
fields of special interest, organisational structure, administrative history, major
client groups and key contacts. Many organisations are increasingly making their
publications, including annual reports and corporate plans, accessible online. The
Commonwealth Government entry point and Government online directory (GOLD)
provide basic information about most Commonwealth organisations, including
contact names and details for program areas, information, publications, and
references to the organisations website. Your organisations intranet may also
provide online access to internal publications, policy and procedural material.
Annual reports
The annual report provides a summary of your organisations current structure and
business activity. It should contain a mission statement that defines the boundaries
of the organisation, corporate objectives that identify broad functional areas and
descriptions of major programs and their budgets. It should identify the
organisations enabling legislation or other legislation that the organisation
administers, as well as external requirements, such as reporting arrangements,
which may affect the way the organisation carries out its functions. The appendixes
may include information about the organisations powers and functions consistent
with sections 8 and 9 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, as well as useful
statistics relating to its business activities.
Organisations covered by the Public Service Act 1999 must table annual reports in
Parliament, and most Commonwealth statutory authorities have a similar clause in
their enabling legislation. Annual reports presented to Parliament usually contain
standardised information consistent with guidelines issued by the Department of
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the Prime Minister and Cabinet, including information on any audits, legal action
the organisation has been involved in and outsourcing arrangements. They are
published as parliamentary papers and are usually available from the organisation.
Most registered companies must produce annual reports and most other
organisations prepare reports for accountability purposes.
Past annual reports are very useful if a historical analysis of the organisation is
being undertaken for appraisal purposes. While the preparation of annual reports
was not compulsory until 1985, most agencies and departments have been routinely
producing them since the late 1970s.
A full organisation chart should be obtained from your corporate area if it is not
included in the annual report. The organisation chart is useful for determining
which sections of your organisation are responsible for administering particular
functions (or parts of functions). The organisation chart is also useful when
planning interviews (see Appendix 2 Guide to interviews).
Strategic plans (corporate plans, business plans and related planning documents)
Corporate plans and business plans are an important source of information on your
organisations current functions and activities.
Commonwealth government organisations are required to prepare outcomes and
outputs frameworks. These show what the organisation wants to achieve, how it
will achieve it and how it will know it is succeeding. It provides a high-level
overview of the work and aims of the organisation.
Some of the information provided in corporate plans will be similar to the
information in the annual report, such as your organisations vision and mission
statements. However, the corporate plan differs from the annual report in its
purpose and intended audience. While it may be distributed to an external
audience, the corporate plan is primarily an internally directed document that
provides the framework in which your organisation must operate. The corporate
plan should identify key objectives that reflect the major functions of your
organisation. These objectives may address more than one function, part of a single
function or aspects of several functions. Such plans are usually revised every three
to five years.
A business, implementation or operational plan provides a finer level of detail than
the corporate plan. It describes specific activities required to fulfil the organisations
strategic objectives and is usually prepared on an annual basis.
There is often some overlap between your organisations corporate and business
plans, as both relate to the same major objectives. However, you may find that
organisations differ in the level of information they provide in their respective
corporate and business plans. For this reason, it is essential to obtain all official
corporate planning documents relating to the organisation you are researching.
Most public service organisations are now required to prepare a risk management
plan. This should identify and evaluate risks and areas of risk within your
organisation and can be particularly helpful for Steps A and B of the DIRKS
methodology.

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Your organisation may also produce a variety of plans relating to specific programs,
which may be useful sources of additional information. As with all sources, you
should use the information from these planning documents in conjunction with
information gathered from other sources to acquire a complete picture of the
organisation.
Legislation and related sources
Unamended principal acts, up-to-date consolidations of amended acts (referred to
as paste-ups) and historical versions of acts can be accessed online through either
the legal information retrieval service SCALEplus of the Commonwealth AttorneyGenerals Department or AustLII, the Australasian Legal Information Institute
databases.
If you are undertaking historical analysis, it is useful to trace changes to the
legislation over time. Keep in mind that the 2001 consolidated version of an act may
bear little resemblance to the original version due to successive amendments.
Information about the history of legislation can be found in the explanatory
memoranda or second reading speech given by the Minister who introduced the
legislation to Parliament. Reasons for changing an act can be traced through the
numbered acts cited in the table of amendments, and references to the related bills.
Recent bills and associated documents can be located on the Parliament of Australia
website at Billsnet and the summaries are at Bills Digest. For earlier bills see
speeches in the Hansard (check index under Bills, short title).
Enabling legislation and other sources of origin
If your organisation is constituted under legislation, its functions and powers will
be outlined in the current version of its act. The interpretation section of the act will
define important terms. The acts notes and tables of amendments should be
examined to determine whether the organisations identity or business activities
have been affected by legislative changes. For example, changes may cause new
functions to come within the organisations jurisdiction, transfer functions to
another organisation, or abolish functions.
If your organisation was not established by legislation, you may need to look at a
variety of other sources to obtain information about its origins or evolution. These
may include:

Administrative Arrangements Orders;

charters;

media releases; and

ministerial statements.

If sources relevant to your organisations origins are not available internally, you
may need to refer to parliamentary papers, if the documents were tabled in
Parliament.
Administrative Arrangements Orders (AAO) are published in the Commonwealth
of Australias Government Notices Gazette and its predecessors. Copies of the latest
AAOs may also be available online through SCALEplus, the legal information
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retrieval service of the Commonwealth Attorney-Generals Department or the


Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website
Other legislation specific to your organisation
Apart from its enabling legislation, your organisation may be directly responsible
for administering other pieces of legislation or satisfying unique obligations set out
in legislation administered by other organisations. Legislation administered by your
organisation should be listed in its annual report or, if the organisation is a
department, in the latest Administrative Arrangements Orders. The Commonwealth
Government Directory, available through AusInfo, also contains a list of legislation
administered under each ministerial portfolio. It is likely that your organisation's
annual report would also identify any requirements to perform specific roles or
activities under legislation that is administered by another organisation.
Policies and procedures
Policies embody the reasons why organisations carry out particular activities and, in
a broad sense, how they should be carried out. All organisations possess official
policies, which have been approved by the organisations management, or which
apply to the whole of government or specific sections of government. A policy may
relate to a specific function, part of a function, aspects of several functions or all of
an organisations functions. Policy documents should provide information on
specific activities undertaken by your organisation.
Procedures are often collected together in a manual that provides details of how an
organisation carries out its functions at a very specific level. Manuals are often
confined to one particular function, and contain procedures that relate to one
activity or several activities. An individual procedure will generally relate to a
particular aspect of an activity. Procedures manuals are useful for identifying
components of activities. Policies and procedures relating to your organisations
unique functions or programs should be available internally.
It is also important for you to have a general understanding of the way government
operates at the broader level, as there are whole-of-government policies and
procedures that may affect the way your organisation carries out its functions.
These are outlined in more detail in the section on External sources.
Organisational records and recordkeeping systems
Once you have collated information on your organisations functions and activities
at a broad level you will need to find out more specific information. Your
organisations records should provide a useful source, although this will depend on
the design of your existing recordkeeping systems. Existing control documentation,
such as a keyword thesaurus or list of file titling conventions, should also indicate
how your organisation currently perceives its functions and activities.
Publications for particular stakeholders
Publications and other documents that arise directly from consultation with
stakeholders, or target their specific concerns, are likely to provide a useful

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perspective on your organisations business activities. Examples of these may


include:

memoranda of understanding;

advisory board or council reports or recommendations addressing the


responsibilities, performance or direction of the organisation;

service charters; and

client surveys.

External sources

To fully understand the business, accountability and societal context in which your
organisation operates, you will need to look beyond its boundaries. There are many
types of external sources that will provide important contextual information. Some
of the more important sources are outlined below.
Whole-of-government legislation
Apart from legislation specific to its core functions, your organisation is likely to be
affected by a range of legislation relating to the public sector generally.
Legislation relating to recordkeeping
Your organisation may be affected by administrative legislation, such as the Archives
Act 1983, Freedom of Information Act 1982, Privacy Act 1988 and the Crimes Act 1914.
The National Archives of Australias Records Issues for Outsourcing provides a
useful summary of how this legislation impacts on your recordkeeping
responsibilities. If your organisation is an incorporated body or a company, some of
the provisions may apply differently, or not at all, and relevant companies
legislation may need to be examined.
Legislation relating to common administrative functions
It is not necessary to examine legislation relating to those general administrative
functions common to most organisations unless your organisation is affected in a
unique way. The National Archives of Australia has developed disposal coverage
for records relating to such functions in the Administrative Functions Disposal
Authority. The Archives is also preparing recordkeeping advice on some of these
functions. Contact the National Archives if you are uncertain whether an activity
conducted by your organisation relates to a common or unique function.
Statutory rules (regulations)
In conjunction with your legislative research you should identify any regulations
that have a significant effect on your organisation. Regulations may:

contain the power to add or remove functions, eg paragraph 77(2)(a)


Air Services Act 1955, gives the Governor-General the power to make
regulations specifying the functions of AA Services;

set out documentation, information or evidential requirements that


may have a bearing on recordkeeping; or
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establish mandatory industry or technical standards.

Regulations can be browsed online via SCALEplus, the legal information retrieval
service of the Commonwealth Attorney-Generals Department or the Australasian
Legal Information Institute databases (AustLII).
Government circulars, directives, memorandums and instruments affecting the
public sector
These types of notices may be issued on an organisational, portfolio or governmentwide basis and may affect the way your organisation carries out its unique
functions. Key sources are likely to include the Government Notices Gazette, and
circulars and memorandums issued by the executive government, Department of
the Treasury, Department of Finance and Administration, Attorney-Generals
Department, the National Office for the Information Economy, and Public Service
and Merit Protection Commission.
Reports and guidelines issued by audit, complaints-handling or other
investigative bodies
A number of public authorities, such as the Australian National Audit Office,
Australian Commonwealth Ombudsman, Australian Law Reform Commission and
Commonwealth Parliament, periodically undertake investigations relating to
particular issues or organisations. Such inquiries may identify performance or
accountability concerns or highlight community expectations that have a bearing on
your organisations recordkeeping practices. It is likely that your organisation will
be aware of relevant external investigations and have access to reports. If not, you
may need to undertake further research to identify significant sources. This may
include browsing indexes to Hansard, parliamentary papers, parliamentary
committees and searching the websites of specific investigative bodies. The
Parliament of Australia search page is a useful starting point. In many cases
electronic copies of recent reports, guides and other publications will be available
online.
It is also worthwhile to check whether your organisation has been subject to internal
performance audits or other types of internal reviews pertinent to its recordkeeping
practices.
Standards relevant to your organisations business
Codes of practice, protocols, technical standards and industry standards specify the
manner in which certain activities are carried out within an organisation.
Organisations may be required to comply with mandatory standards as part of their
legislative or administrative requirements, or they may choose to adopt voluntary
standards pertaining to their business activities. Copies of all standards that apply
to your organisation should be available through your corporate area.
Additional sources for reconstructing your organisations historical context
Some additional sources may be required to reconstruct your organisations
historical context. These include:

organisational histories;
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parliamentary or government committees or inquiries; and

RecordSearch, the National Archives of Australia collection database.

Organisational histories
These may be published or unpublished and are sometimes associated with an
anniversary or major event in the history of an organisation. These, if produced,
may be found in your organisation's library or the National Library of Australia.
Parliamentary or government committees or inquiries
References to reports undertaken prior to the current Parliament can be found in the
register of committee reports (19701996) on the Parliament of Australia website.
The National Library of Australia holds a full set of parliamentary papers, with
indexes, from Federation.
National Archives of Australia RecordSearch database
RecordSearch controls records in the Commonwealth Records Series (CRS) system,
including details about Commonwealth agencies (ie Commonwealth institutions, or
the various units of those institutions). RecordSearch is not necessarily a complete
or authoritative record of agencies and records. However, it is a useful reference
tool for organisations that have had dealings with the National Archives over time
because it traces the administrative history of Commonwealth agencies and
includes links to previous and subsequent agencies.
Citing sources

You may need to revisit your sources again in later steps, or when re-using the
information for another project. To make this easier, it is important to cite
information correctly. This information will form the register of sources, question 22
in the Organisation Context Document. There are a number of widely accepted
citation styles and information about these is commonly available from university
library websites. The Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers (Australian
Government Publishing Service, 1994, 5th edition) is also a useful reference that
may be in your organisations library.
Some basic points to remember when citing sources:

Include the title, author, publisher and date of any source. For internal
sources, the publisher and author is likely to be the name of your
organisation.

For legislation, record the full title, the year it was promulgated and
also the consolidation date as acts are amended over time, both dates
are necessary.

For online resources, include the URL and date of access.

APPENDIX 2
GUIDE TO
INTERVIEWS
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 2 Guide to interviews

APPENDIX 2
GUIDE TO INTERVIEWS
Before you start

The purpose of conducting interviews with staff of your organisation is to collect


information for Steps A, B and C and to validate information gathered during the
documentary source analysis. It is assumed that you will have at least a general
understanding of the organisations functions and structure before beginning the
interview process. The annual report and organisational chart will provide a broad
overview of these aspects. Intranet sites are often very useful in providing details of
work undertaken by each section of an organisation. If you are interviewing staff
with direct responsibilities for administering legislation, you should familiarise
yourself with this material before the interview.
There are a number of ways to conduct the interview process, including interviews
with individual officers or workshops with selected staff. You will need to decide
which methods are appropriate to your organisation. Each method has advantages
and disadvantages. Interviewing individuals is particularly useful for gaining an indepth understanding of a particular function or activity, while a workshop may be
preferable for documenting a work process that is undertaken by a number of staff.
Much of what is discussed in this guide pertains to the interview process, but it can
be easily adapted to suit a workshop situation.
Determining who to interview

You will need to interview different people for the different stages of the DIRKS
process. For Step A, where you need a broad understanding of the organisation, you
should focus on senior managers responsible for core business functions and, to
address the recordkeeping questions in this step, the organisations records
manager. For Steps B and C you will need to interview area or line managers and
actions officers who undertake the work.
Use the organisation chart to identify each operational area. You will need to
interview at least one representative from each operational area, preferably the
person in charge or an experienced action officer. You may discover during the
course of some interviews that you need to interview more than one representative
from a particular area (eg when one officer within the operational area is
responsible for a specific activity). These additional interviews can be undertaken
after the main series of interviews has been completed.
Arrange for a memorandum to be circulated to all staff identified as potential
interviewees. Ensure that the memorandum is endorsed, or preferably issued, by a
member of senior management. The memorandum should:

explain who you are and the name of the project;

describe the expected outcomes of the project, emphasising the benefits to the
organisation (for example, savings in money and staff time used in storing,
retrieving and locating records);

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DIRKS manual Appendix 2 Guide to interviews

indicate that interviewees have been selected because of their knowledge of


the structure, functions and business activities of the organisation, as well as
their understanding of the organisations information needs;

identify the type of information you are seeking and request that interviewees
consider these matters prior to being interviewed; these should include:
1.

the functions, activities and transactions undertaken by the operational area, and
how these fit into the overall purpose and structure of the organisation (you may
need to explain the meaning of these terms and give examples of the sort of
transactional details required);

2.

any legal or other recordkeeping requirements relating to the records;

3.

what records and recordkeeping systems result from these functions and
activities; and

4.

the interviewees opinion on how long the records they use are required for
business purposes.

state that the interview should take between 30 and 60 minutes, depending on
the amount of information to be obtained from each operational area; and

thank prospective interviewees for their cooperation.

Arranging the interview program

Allow at least 90 minutes for each interview, including writing up your notes at the
conclusion of each interview. This basic formula should give an indication of
approximately how long the interview program will take to complete. Once you
have decided on a time period, you should contact the interviewees and find out
when each is available to be interviewed. You may need to extend the interview
program's time frame to fit in with the interviewees other commitments.
Preparing questions

This task can be tightly or loosely structured, depending on the style most
comfortable for you. Whatever method you decide to use, you should prepare in
advance a list of questions covering both business activities and records. These may
include:

the areas of responsibility of the operational area in which the interviewee


works;

how these areas of responsibility relate to those of other operational areas and
fit into the functions of the organisation as a whole (eg with reference to
legislation under which the organisation is established and/or administered);

the broad areas of work that are undertaken to carry out the business activities
of the organisation (eg report writing, preparing submissions, drafting
publications, running training courses, liaison with other organisations, or
contact with members of the public);

the transactions involved in undertaking this work (eg the individual steps
involved in running training courses);
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DIRKS manual Appendix 2 Guide to interviews

any specialist terminology used to describe business activities;

if the organisation has a functions thesaurus, which terms apply to the


operational area's functions and activities and whether any gaps have been
discovered in its application;

whether the work of the area is regulated by legislation or other external


requirements (eg standards);

if there have been any changes in the nature of the activities undertaken by
the area;

what records are generated as a result of the work undertaken by the area;

whether information in the records is duplicated elsewhere, or if any of the


records are duplicates;

whether any of the records are related to each other, or to records used by
other sections of the organisation (eg documenting different aspects of the
same function or activity); and

the interviewee's opinion of how long the records should be retained for the
organisation's business purposes and the basis for this opinion (eg how often
are records referred back to after action has been completed and for what
purposes).

It is also important to confirm with the interviewees that you are using current
sources and to seek information from them about other sources that you may have
overlooked.
Sample questions are provided in Appendix 3 Interview questions, to help you
start the interview process.
Conducting the interview

Make arrangements to hold the interview in a suitable venue and consider the
possibility of using a tape recorder. Taping interviews can be very effective as it
allows you to concentrate on the interviewee and what is being said rather than
trying to take notes during the session to capture the key information. Always check
with those you are interviewing to make sure they are comfortable with you using a
tape recorder.
At the end of the session thank the interviewee for their cooperation, and mention
that a follow-up interview may be required to clarify information in light of
subsequent research.
Writing up notes

Write up your notes directly after the interview, while the information is still fresh
in your mind. It is a good idea to structure your notes clearly, according to each
question or according to predetermined topics such as functions, activities,
transactions and recordkeeping requirements. You may use the Source
identification form Other sources including interviews (Appendix 4) as a guide to
structuring your notes.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 2 Guide to interviews

You should provide adequate information to enable every source to be identified


(eg person's name, position, date of interview). You should number your interview
and add this to the register of sources (question 22 of Appendix 5 Organisation
context document).

APPENDIX 3
INTERVIEW
QUESTIONS
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 3 Interview questions

APPENDIX 3
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
This guide provides suggested interview questions to assist in Steps A, B and C of
your DIRKS project. For more information, read Appendix 2 Guide to interviews.
Questions for senior managers

Before commencing the interview, explain the project and identify the benefits to
the organisation. Outline what research you have done and give an overview of the
sources you have used. You may wish to omit or rephrase some questions
depending on the responsibilities of the person you are interviewing and
information you have already obtained.

What are the core areas of responsibility of the organisation?

What are the reporting lines within the organisation and to external
authorities?

Does the organisation consider itself to be operating in a highly regulated


environment?

What is the organisations attitude towards the degree of regulation?

Who are your organisations stakeholders?

How does the organisation manage its external compliance regime (eg
managing its performance in relation to the regulatory environment, audits,
standards and best practice)?

Does the organisation operate in a litigious environment?

If so, can you give a general description of how it manages claims made
against it (eg through one unit such as a legal team)?

Does the organisation have a risk management plan? Can you outline its
major features and provide a copy?

How are risks monitored and managed in the day-to-day operation of the
organisations business?

What are the high risk elements of the organisations business? Where in the
structure of the organisation are high risk activities or processes performed or
concentrated?

Are there policies or procedures in place to help officers contribute to external


compliance or risk management within the organisation? If so, what are they?

What role does recordkeeping play in managing risks and external


compliance within the organisation?

How does the organisation obtain feedback from its clients?

How does the organisation gauge community attitudes in relation to its


performance?

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 3 Interview questions

Has the organisation been subject to any adverse community comments or


campaigns?

Has the organisation established any advisory or consultative bodies that


address or represent community concerns in relation to the business activity
or activities of the organisation. If so, what are they?

Does the organisation have any statements about community relations or any
special agreements or undertakings with clients or stakeholders that are
documented (eg memorandum of understanding with stakeholders, service
charters)?

Is the organisation subject to frequent parliamentary or ministerial scrutiny? If


so, give examples.

How does the organisation manage its reporting to the Parliament and the
government?

Is the business of other organisations reliant on the activities of your


organisation? If so, describe how.

Has the organisation conducted internal reviews or audits concerning its


performance and accountability recently? If so, what were the conclusions of
the review or report? (Get a copy if relevant.)

What degree of technological currency and competence does the organisation


display?

What are the organisations current priorities and goals?

Does the organisation have an information management or knowledge


management plan? If so how is recordkeeping integrated into this wider plan?

Can you refer me to internal publications that will help define, at a detailed
level, the organisation's business activity and recordkeeping requirements (eg
policies and procedures, publications for clients or the community in general,
technical codes or standards)?

Can you refer me to any historical publications about the organisation?

Questions for records managers

Before commencing the interview, explain what research you have done and give an
overview of the documentary sources you have used. Seek to clarify any questions
you may have arising from your documentary source analysis. You may wish to
omit or rephrase some questions depending on the information you have already
obtained.

Could you describe the recordkeeping systems used in your organisation?


(Cover both formal corporate, for example records management, electronic
document management, personnel and finance systems, as well as ad hoc
systems that may be used to support specific business activities and whether
they are electronic or paper based.)

Do you have a corporate records manager?


4

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DIRKS manual Appendix 3 Interview questions

Are recordkeeping responsibilities dispersed throughout the organisation?

What level of recordkeeping awareness and competency do most staff have to


meet the organisations work requirements?

Does the organisation have recordkeeping policies? If so do these policies


cover all record formats (eg paper, electronic including email)?

What are the staff numbers in your recordkeeping area?

Does the organisation have formal recordkeeping procedures or guidelines for


staff to follow? Do these procedures cover creation, capture and maintenance
of records in all formats?

Are the procedures regularly reviewed and are staff trained in their use?

Does your organisation control record titling?

Has your organisation applied metadata controls to electronic records?

Does your organisation have a vital records plan? Does this plan cover records
in both paper and electronic formats?

Does your organisation perform regular recordkeeping audits?

Where are your records stored (both paper and electronic, active and semiactive)?

What disposal authorities do you have that cover records produced in the
course of current and (if appropriate) historical business activity?

Do you have a planned disposal program?

What is the approximate quantity and date range of unsentenced records in


your organisation?

Does the organisation have difficulty producing records when they are
required (eg for litigation, audit, ministerial or parliamentary briefing,
freedom of information requests)? If so, why do such difficulties occur?

What levels of prominence, resources and support from management do the


staff responsible for recordkeeping have within the organisation?

Questions for area or line managers and action officers

Before commencing the interview, explain the project and identify the benefits to
the organisation. Outline what research you have done and give an overview of the
sources you have used and the areas already interviewed.

What functions is your area responsible for?

Do you administer any legislation?

What activities or steps do you undertake to perform these functions? (What is


being sought here is the transactions or the actions undertaken.)

Do you have procedures that guide your work?

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 3 Interview questions

Is your work governed by any standards?

Are there any compliance checks made on your work?

Do you interact with other areas of the organisation in carrying out these
business activities?

Do you interact with external organisations in carrying out these business


activities?

Do you provide services to members of the public?

Who are your areas stakeholders and what is their interest in the business
activities you carry out?

What risks are involved in carrying out your work?

Is your area subject to any litigation?

Do you employ consultants to carry out any work?

What records are created in undertaking your work?

Are full and comprehensive records created to support your work?

What recordkeeping systems are used to manage the records you create?

How long are the records you create needed to support the business activities
of your organisation?

Can you identify any other uses your records may have, other than for the
provision of evidence of work undertaken? (ie can the information be used for
other purposes?)

APPENDIX 4
SOURCE
IDENTIFICATION
FORMS
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 4 Source forms

APPENDIX 4
SOURCE IDENTIFICATION FORMS
This appendix contains three form you can use to identify sources used in your
organisations DIRKS analysis:
1. Source identification form Acts of Parliament
2. Source identification form Statutory Regulations
3. Source identification form Other sources

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 4 Source forms

Source identification form Acts of Parliament


Name of organisation:

Date of compilation:

Source number:
A unique number for each source is required for reference purposes. Use a single running number.
Use only one sequence of numbers irrespective of the nature of the source.

Type of source:
(eg Act of Parliament)

Source name:

Full title of Act (eg Commonwealth Employees Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988).

Reference number:
The Acts reference number and the date of assent (eg 75 of 1988, Date of Assent 24 June 1988). The
website of the Parliamentary Library provides the dates of assent to bills.

Source hyperlink:
URL to legislation online.

Start date(s):
The date that the Act came into force. There is a provision within Acts for their commencement, usually
at Section 2 (eg This Act commences on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent, or The
several parts of this Act shall come into operation on such respective dates as are fixed by
proclamation). There may be special provision for specified parts of the Act to commence on different
dates (eg item 14 of Schedule 2 commences on the 28th day after the day on which this Act receives
the Royal Assent).

End date:
Show the date the Act was repealed.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 4 Source forms

Legislation that supersedes repealed legislation (where appropriate):

Give title and date of repealing Act if source no longer current.

Date legislation came into operation:


Give information on when the Act came into operation (if different from the start date) and any other
specific details associated with its introduction and operation. Example: This Act became fully
operational on 1 December 1988 with full cost-recovery arrangements via a premium introduced for
198990 injury year covering all workers compensation claims with a date of injury on and after 1 July
1989. For pre-premium claims (ie those claims with a date of injury before 1 July 1989) budget funded
agencies were required to transfer their estimates of workers compensation costs from their
Compensation and Legal annual appropriation item to Comcares special appropriation, and Comcare
continued to meet the costs associated with these claims. Non budget funded agencies had to meet
their own costs in relation to these claims (except for cases where the Commonwealth accepted
liability following sale of some agencies).

Establishment of the organisation:

Include Division, Part and/or Section number(s) and include sufficient text to show establishment of
organisation (where appropriate). Also show the broad responsibilities the Act may establish for the
agency and the relative responsibilities of other major stakeholders, if any. Example: The Act
establishes Comcare as the agency responsible for the application of the management of
compensation in the Commonwealth. Rehabilitation, in relation to Comcare claims, is managed
through the employing agency.

Administration of the Act:

Include Division, Part and/or Section number(s) and include sufficient text to show the responsibility the
organisation has for administering the Act. Also show if there are any other organisations which take a
significant role in administering the Act.

Effects on the operation of the organisation:

This may also include the legislation cited in the previous question. Include Division, Part and/or
Section number(s) and show how the legislation impacts on the operations of the organisation.

Business activity:

Identify the major business activity or activities that the legislation mandates (eg health services,
education, training, compensation, rehabilitation, etc).

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 4 Source forms

Functions:

Using the information gathered about the business activity of your organisation, make notes in this field
on the scope of your organisations functions and on possible terms for formal naming of these
functions. This information will assist you in step B.

Recordkeeping requirements:

Note any specific recordkeeping requirements identified in the legislation, together with the relevant
provisions of the Act. This will assist you in step C.

Notes:

Give details of any general information that will help you understand the organisation and complete the
preliminary investigation template. Example: The Commonwealth Employees Rehabilitation and
Compensation Amendment Act 1990 at Section 68 established a Commission called the Commission
for the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation of Commonwealth Employees. The Act, for that
reason, is also referred to as the SRC Act.
Commonwealth of Australia 2000

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 4 Source forms

Source identification form Statutory rules


(regulations)
Name of organisation:

Date of compilation:

Source number:
A unique number for each source is required for reference purposes. Use a single running number.
Only use one sequence of numbers irrespective of the nature of the source.

Type of source:
Statutory rule, regulation.

Source name:
Full title (eg Statutory Rules 1984 No. 100 Archives Regulations). Regulations can be numerous and,
in most cases, it will be best to browse the consolidated version of the regulations online and make
notes of those that are relevant (ie those that impact on the activities of the organisation or have
recordkeeping implications).

Regulation number:
Regulation or regulations involved (eg Regulation 3).

Name of Act under which statutory rules were made:


(Eg Archives Act 1983)

Source hyperlink:
URL to regulation or other source online.

Start date:
The date when the regulations were intended to take effect. This will be found in the notes to the
regulation (eg *1* Notified in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on 1 June 1984).

End date:
The date of repeal.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 4 Source forms

Repealed/superseded by (where appropriate):


Give title and date of repeals if source no longer current (eg Statutory Rules 1987 No. 285 Freedom of
Information (Addresses) Regulations (Repeal), Regulation 1). This field may not be completed for the
preliminary investigation, but it is provided so that, if appropriate, the information can be updated later.

Purpose of statutory rule:


Example: Provides for Commonwealth agencies to provide certain information to National Archives
relating to their functions and the Commonwealth records in their custody for the purposes of appraisal.

Effect on the operations of the organisation:


Example: In order to exercise its authority to approve the disposal of Commonwealth records by
Commonwealth agencies under Section 24 of the Archives Act 1983, the National Archives needs to
have access to information about the context of records creation and the functions and activities of the
organisations. Regulation 3 empowers the National Archives to gain access to that information.

Other organisations affected by the regulations:


Example: Commonwealth institutions which create Commonwealth records are obliged to provide the
information requested under Regulation 3 within a reasonable time.

Business activity:
Identify the major business activity or activities that the regulation mandates (eg health services,
education, training, compensation, rehabilitation, etc).

Functions:
Using the information gathered about the business activity of your organisation, make notes in this field
on the scope of your organisations functions and on possible terms for formal naming of these
functions. This information will assist you in step B.

Recordkeeping requirements:
Note any specific recordkeeping requirements identified in the regulation, together with the relevant
provisions of the Act. This will assist you in step C.

Notes:
Give details of any general information that will help you understand the organisation and complete the
preliminary investigation template.
Commonwealth of Australia 2000

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 4 Source forms

Source identification form Other sources including


interviews
The information shown below should be completed for other sources. For interviews adapt the form to include
information about the interview such as the time, date, details about the officer being interviewed etc.

Name of organisation:

Date of compilation:

Source number:
A unique number for each source is required for reference purposes. Use a single running number. Use only one
sequence of numbers irrespective of the nature of the source.

Source name:
Cite bibliographic details of published source (eg All About Workers Compensation: A Guide for Employees,
Canberra, Comcare, June 1997). Where the source is an action officer who is interviewed show the name of the
officer, position title, section and organisation.

Source hyperlink:
URL to publication online.

Source type:
This information is important where you have a large number of sources. It will enable you to evaluate them and
decide which sources will be most useful when conducting research for other steps. See Guide to documentary
sources for examples.

Source start date:


Date of publication or if the source is an interview, give date of interview.

Source end date:


If a publication, the date superseded by another publication (or, if it has not been superseded but there is
evidence that the source is no longer used, the date it dropped out of use). This field may not be completed for
the preliminary investigation, but it is provided so that the information can be updated later, if required.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 4 Source forms

Source overview:
Provide an overall description of the source. Example: This source is a guide to the Commonwealths workers
compensation scheme, which is administered by Comcare. The guide has been written specifically for
employees claiming compensation and provides a step-by-step approach to the compensation and the return to
work process.

Business activity:
Identify the major business activity or activities to which the source refers (eg health services, education, training,
etc).

Notes:
Give details of any general information that will help you understand the organisation and complete the
preliminary investigation template. Example: A compensation claim to Comcare results in the initiation of a
rehabilitation program which is the responsibility of the employing agency. The function of compensation in
Comcare has a direct relationship to the function of rehabilitation in Commonwealth agencies and there is an
interdependence of recordkeeping needs between those organisations.
Commonwealth of Australia 2000

APPENDIX 5
ORGANISATION
CONTEXT
DOCUMENT
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix5 Organisation context

APPENDIX 5
ORGANISATION CONTEXT DOCUMENT
Use this form to consolidate information about the organisation gathered during
Step A Preliminary investigation.
The source number against each question is a cross-reference to question 22, the
register of sources.
Background
1.

Who is responsible for managing this project in your organisation?


Show details of the senior officer in charge of the project.

Name

Position

Phone number

Identifying the organisation and its administrative context


2.

What is the name of the organisation?


Include all names that the organisation is known by, including acronyms, registered
business names, and names of business units (eg shopfronts).

Name

3.

Source
number

What type of organisation is it?


For example, department, statutory body, non-statutory body, corporation, university,
etc. If your organisation is registered show relevant details.

Type

Australian Company Number (ACN) or


other registration number (if
appropriate)

Source
number

National Archives of Australia

4.

DIRKS manual Appendix 5 Organisation context

What are the defining characteristics of the organisation?


Comment on reporting arrangements (eg to parent department, directly to portfolio
minister), unique characteristics (eg the organisations autonomy, budgetary status, etc),
and indicate whether the organisation is the lead agency responsible for administering
legislation which affects most government organisations.

Characteristics

5.

What is the history of the organisation?


Provide a chronological overview of the establishment of the organisation and major
changes and events, including major losses or gains in functions and/or restructuring.
Also name earlier organisations and indicate the date range of their existence.

Date

6.

Source
number

Comments

Source
number

What is the structure of the organisation? Where are the various units located
if there is more than one, and what is the business activity carried out by
each?
All units of the organisation need to be clearly identified so that the full range of work
carried out by the organisation is taken into account. If there are numerous units they
should be grouped into types of units that carry out the same types of work (eg overseas
posts may be grouped together). Alternatively, attach a detailed current organisational
chart.

Office-holder responsible for the organisation, eg secretary, director-general


List units and their location
Business activity

7.

Source
number

Does the organisation have any administrative links to other organisations?


For example, your agency may have strong links with statutory authorities, councils,
boards of management, committees etc that are defined as separate organisations. See
A.5.2. Note the name of the organisation and the relationship to your organisation.

Name of organisation

Relationship

Source
number

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix5 Organisation context

Identifying the legal and regulatory framework


8.

What is the official basis of the organisation and why was it established?
Identify and document the establishment of the organisation and the purpose for which it
was established. Indicate if there have been any major changes to the establishing
legislation.

Establishment of the organisation

9.

Source
number

What legislation is administered by the organisation?


List legislation administered by the organisation. This may include legislation referred to
in earlier questions, and repealed legislation that was administered by the organisation
in the past. Agencies (particularly portfolio departments) with a long list of legislation should
distinguish between those they substantively administer and those for which they have
an oversight or other minor role.

Source name (short title)

10.

What legislation affects the role or the operation of the organisation?


Indicate what legislation affects the operations of the organisation, excluding the
enabling legislation in the previous question and common administrative legislation that
underpins the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority. For example, laws on the
use and handling of chemicals may affect scientific research organisations.

Source name (short title)

11.

Source
number

Business activity

Source
number

Has the organisation contracted out any aspects of its business activity to
government or non-government organisations?
For example, some government agencies contract-out service provision to Centrelink.
Note specific legislative provisions and/or contractual arrangements that govern these
relationships. This information is available from annual reports.

Contracting-out details

Source
number

National Archives of Australia

12.

DIRKS manual Appendix 5 Organisation context

Are there standards that have been imposed on or adopted by the


organisation?
List mandatory and voluntary standards (or parts thereof) including best practice,
technical, or industry standards, to which the organisation adheres, such as ISO or
Australian standards. Indicate, where applicable, the regulatory body that is responsible
for monitoring compliance. Also list standards that are administered by the organisation,
for example the National Archives of Australia administers the AGLS metadata
standard.

Name of standard and other details

Mandatory,
voluntary or
administered

Source
number

Identifying the business context


13.

What does the organisation do?


List the general areas of business or the industry sector for which the organisation is
responsible (eg health, education, employment, scientific research) and major outputs,
services and products provided by the organisation.

Business activity

14.

Source
number

Are any of the business areas of your organisations operations subject to a


high level of litigation?
Include litigation where the organisation is either the defendant or complainant. Comment
on the nature, frequency, trends, risks and consequences of litigation. Show different
areas of business activity separately. Information on litigation is usually available in
annual reports.

Litigation details

15.

Outputs, products or services

Business activity

Source
number

Who are the organisations major stakeholders?


For ease of reference, list the stakeholders identified during the course of the preliminary
investigation and specify the nature of their interests. Stakeholders include groups that
express an opinion on the organisations products or services, community groups, clients
and customers, as well as the Minister, parent department, formal advisory groups etc.

Stakeholder

Interest of stakeholder in the organisation

Source
number

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix5 Organisation context

Identifying the corporate culture


16.

What is the current strategic focus of the organisation?


Look at the organisations strategic planning documents and recent executive
statements. These will identify the organisation's direction, changes in activities that are
currently carried out, or new activities.

Strategic focus

17.

Has the organisation or any facet of its business been the subject of any recent
internal or external audits?
List any recent audits, indicating the business area involved. Note any adverse findings
including any comments on recordkeeping or information management. Basic
information on audits is available in annual reports.

Date

18.

Source
number

Audit

Business area

Findings

Does your organisation have a formal compliance program or strategies


and/or procedures in place to ensure compliance to laws, standards, etc?
Indicate any measures in place to ensure that relevant laws, regulations, codes and
standards are not breached.

Details of compliance programs, strategies or procedures

19.

Source
number

Source
number

Does your organisation have a formal risk management program in place?


Comment on the risks associated with the organisations business activity and the
strategies and/or procedures in place to deal with such risks. A recent government
initiative requires all agencies to prepare risk management plans.

Risk levels and risk management strategies in


place

Business activity

Source
number

National Archives of Australia

20.

How is recordkeeping managed in the organisation?


Comment on whether recordkeeping is centralised, decentralised or mixed, levels of staff
awareness, the management of paper and electronic records and whether there are
comprehensive, known policies and procedures. If there is a current disposal program,
indicate what disposal authorities are used.

Recordkeeping in the organisation

21.

Source
number

How is technology used in business systems and information management


systems, including recordkeeping and/or records management systems?
Comment on the technological capabilities of the organisation, referring to indicators
such as use of technology in business systems, work stations and work practices,
resources allocated to technology, and staff competence and training.

Technology and its use in the organisation

22.

DIRKS manual Appendix 5 Organisation context

Source
number

What sources have been used to undertake the preliminary investigation?


Compile a register of all documentary and oral sources used during the preliminary
investigation. Number each source to keep track of the sources in later steps. See
Appendix 1 Guide to documentary sources, for advice on identifying and citing
sources.

Commonwealth of Australia 2000

APPENDIX 6
PRACTICAL ADVICE
FOR USING
KEYWORD AAA
AND AGIFT TERMS

September 2001 (rev July 2003)

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 6 Using Keyword AAA and AGIFT terms

APPENDIX 6
PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR USING KEYWORD AAA AND AGIFT TERMS
Organisations undertake Step B Analysis of business activity of the DIRKS
methodology to analyse their core functions and activities and develop a business
classification scheme that conceptually represents their core business activities. The
business classification scheme is the basis for developing three additional tools:

Merged business classification scheme


This comprises the organisations core functions and activities plus the
administrative functions and activities identified as being common to most
government agencies. The merged business classification scheme will provide
your organisation with a comprehensive classification regime for its records.
The 17 common administrative functions, and their associated activities, are
outlined in the Commonwealth version of Keyword AAA: Thesaurus of
General Terms (May 2001) (Keyword AAA);

Functions-based records disposal authority


This controls the disposal of records produced as a result of your
organisations core business functions and activities (see Appendix 8
Procedures for developing a records disposal authority in the
Commonwealth). This authority, in conjunction with the Administrative
Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA) which provides disposal coverage for
records produced as a result of the 17 common functions outlined in the
Commonwealth version of Keyword AAA, will provide your organisation
with comprehensive disposal coverage for its records. (Please contact the
National Archives if you wish to develop your own functions-based records
disposal authority, email: recordkeeping@naa.gov.au); and

Classification tools
Classification tools (such as a functions thesaurus or records classification
scheme) expand the utility of your organisations business classification
scheme to provide a comprehensive indexing, retrieval and classification
regime for your organisations records. The Overview of Classification Tools
for Records Management provides further advice on developing classification
tools.

The remainder of this document provides guidelines for using Keyword AAA
(Commonwealth version) and AGIFT terms when developing your agency's
business classification scheme and related classification tools. In particular,
adherence to these guidelines will ensure that the classification regime you
implement uses unambiguous terms and that it is fully compatible with the
Administrative Functions Disposal Authority.
Rules for using Keyword AAA terms in an organisations core business
classification scheme

Following these seven rules will ensure that your organisations business
classification scheme is fully compatible with the Commonwealth version of
Keyword AAA.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 6 Using Keyword AAA and AGIFT terms

Rule 1. Avoid making changes to functions and activities (including scope notes)
in Keyword AAA.
Rule 2. You can attach activities from Keyword AAA to agency core functions.
Rule 3. Retain the hierarchical level of authorised terms in Keyword AAA.
Rule 4. Agency-specific activity terms can only be used with agency-specific
functions.
Rule 5. Do not use a function term from Keyword AAA, or alter its scope, to
describe a core agency business function.
Rule 6. Do not use an activity term from Keyword AAA, or alter its scope, to
describe a core agency business function
Rule 7. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the effect of deleting unused
functions, activities and function-activity links from Keyword AAA.
Rule 1: Avoid making changes to functions and activities (including scope notes)
in Keyword AAA
It is important to understand that, because there are direct links between the
Commonwealth version of Keyword AAA and AFDA, you should not make
changes to authorised terms (function and activity) when you are compiling your
merged business classification scheme.
Scope notes of authorised terms should also not be altered. Any changes would
make it difficult to sentence records in accordance with AFDA, as the new scope
notes would not match AFDA disposal classes. (Note: A disposal class consists of
the function and activity term and scope plus the description of records and
disposal action.)
Rule 2: You can attach activities from Keyword AAA to agency core functions
When you are compiling a business classification scheme to merge with the
Commonwealth version of Keyword AAA, you can use activity terms from
Keyword AAA under your core functions. You cannot modify the scope note of the
Keyword AAA activity term.
Some Keyword AAA activity terms that may be applicable to your core functions
are Policy, Implementation, Meetings, Research, Liaison, Acquisition,
Contracting-out, Tendering and Audit.
If the Keyword AAA scope note is not appropriate to describe your business, you
should create an activity term that accurately describes your organisations unique
activity.
Rule 3: Retain the hierarchical level of authorised terms in Keyword AAA
You should always retain the hierarchical level of authorised terms in the
Commonwealth version of Keyword AAA. For example, you cannot use

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 6 Using Keyword AAA and AGIFT terms

Occupational Health and Safety, which is itself a function term, as an activity


under the function of Personnel. If you change the hierarchical levels of Keyword
AAA terms you will not be able to sentence your records. Disposal classes in AFDA
are linked to the functions and activities of Keyword AAA.
Also, you cannot group several functions together into a new function. For example,
you cannot group several functions like Personnel, Occupational Health & Safety
and Staff development together to form a new function of Human resources. This
would be an inappropriate level for a function.
Rule 4: Agency-specific activity terms can only be used with agency-specific
functions
Agency-specific activities belong with agency-specific functions rather than with
administrative functions. Please do not add agency-specific activities to Keyword
AAA functions. AFDA will not provide disposal coverage for such combinations.
If there are missing relationships in the Commonwealth version of Keyword AAA
and AFDA please inform the staff of the National Archives who will consider it in
reviews of these products.
Rule 5: Do not use a function term from Keyword AAA, or alter its scope, to
describe a core agency business function
For example, AusInfo has a core responsibility for Commonwealth Government
publishing. AusInfo cannot use the function Publication from Keyword AAA as it
stands, nor should it widen the scope note, to cover its agency-specific activities.
Likewise the National Archives of Australia cannot use Information management
for its own core function of managing Commonwealth records. The current scope in
the Commonwealth version of Keyword AAA is too limited and widening the scope
note would cause problems when sentencing.
If your organisation performs a function from Keyword AAA as part of its core
business, you have some options, depending on the circumstances.

You can keep the original function in Keyword AAA and add another
function to cover additional agency needs. This is suitable when you need to
distinguish between your core business and your administrative needs.
For example, the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission
cannot use the function Occupational Health and Safety to describe its core
responsibility of providing OH&S advice and assistance to other agencies.
This agency should, instead, create an additional function term (eg
Workplace Health and Safety) as well as retaining Occupational Health and
Safety for the common administrative function of implementing and
coordinating OH&S and associated legislation throughout their own
organisation.
For organisations with a core functional responsibility that may partly overlap
a Keyword AAA function for example the function of Community relations
using the Keyword AAA term Community relations in conjunction with an
5

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 6 Using Keyword AAA and AGIFT terms

agency-specific function term like Promotion will provide for the agencys
administrative and core business needs.
If you cannot find a suitable alternative term for a core function, you can
simply add to the Keyword AAA term, for example Gallery community
relations, to avoid confusion between the terms.

You can remove the original function (and all of its relationships) from
Keyword AAA, choose a different term to cover your new function and widen
the scope. This approach is suitable if you do not need to use the original
function at all in an administrative sense.
For example, if your organisation performs the function of Community
relations as part of its core business, this approach is suitable. When
compiling your business classification scheme and records disposal authority
you should change the name of the term (for example to Customer relations)
and tailor the scope note accordingly. This means that Community relations
from AFDA cannot be used to sentence records. The classes under Customer
relations in your records disposal authority would apply instead.

Rule 6: Do not use an activity term from Keyword AAA, or alter its scope, to
describe a core agency business function
It is important not to use an activity term from the Commonwealth version of
Keyword AAA to describe a core business function. For example, some agencies
undertake inspections as part of their core business. The term Inspections is an
activity in Keyword AAA. For an agency with inspections as a core function, the
combination of activities that make up that process would need far more description
than the scope provided in Keyword AAA.
If you perform an activity from Keyword AAA as a core business function, you
have some options, depending on the circumstances.

You can remove the original activity term and all of its relationships from
Keyword AAA and create a new function term. This is suitable when you are
entirely replacing the scope of the original activity with a new scope. You
should not remove the original activity unless you are confident that you will
never undertake this activity as part of any of your administrative functions.
For example, if your organisation dispenses grants to other bodies, but is not
itself a grant recipient, you might wish to remove the activity Grant funding
from your merged business classification scheme. You could then add a core
function of Funding (to avoid confusion do not call it Grant funding) and
cover it under your records disposal authority.

You can keep the original activity in place and create a new function. Again,
this is suitable when you need to distinguish between your core business and
your administrative needs.
For example, the Office of the Auditor-General would not use the activity
term Audit when performing financial audits of other organisations. They
would need to choose a term like Audit management to represent their core
function. However, they can still use Staff development Audit, for
6

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 6 Using Keyword AAA and AGIFT terms

internal staff development audits, or Financial management Audit, for


internal audits conducted within the Office of the Auditor-General.
Rule 7: Make sure you have a clear understanding of the effect of deleting unused
functions, activities and function-activity links on your use of Keyword AAA
You may delete unused functions, activities and function-activity links in the
Commonwealth version of Keyword AAA (and therefore not use the corresponding
terms in AFDA) in order to streamline your business classification scheme.
However, it is recommended that you do not follow this option unless you will
never require these in the future. Be aware that such changes need to be monitored
so the changes can be made again in new versions of merged business classification
schemes and so that agency staff can sentence records correctly.
For references

For references may be included after a term in the merged business classification
scheme to direct users to the appropriate function or activity.
These examples show the conventions to follow:

For compensation claims made by employees, use COMPENSATION Cases.

For formal submissions made by the agency on government matters, use


GOVERNMENT RELATIONS Submissions.

Ensure that references included in the merged business classification scheme add
value. These references can greatly increase the accessibility and useability of your
organisations merged business classification scheme.
Rules for using AGIFT terms

The Australian Governments Interactive Functions Thesaurus (AGIFT) is a national


cross-jurisdictional thesaurus of government functions. It contains 24 high-level (or
ambient) function terms and more than 500 lower level function terms covering
Commonwealth government functions, as well as functions of other government
jurisdictions. A function, or part of a function, described in AGIFT will be
undertaken by your organisation.
AGIFT is a potential source of function terms for use in your organisations business
classification scheme and related classification tools. For more information see
DIRKS Step B - Analysis of business activity and Overview of classification tools
for records management .
Many of the high-level (or ambient) functions described in AGIFT will extend
beyond the scope of your organisations business functions. However, it is likely
your organisations business functions will correspond to particular lower level
function terms in AGIFT. Organisations may adopt these terms for their own
purposes rather than developing alternative function terms, subject to the following
conditions.
Rule 1: Ensure that the term is appropriate
Before using an AGIFT term, you must ensure that the term you are adopting is an
appropriate term for a Commonwealth function. AGIFT is a cross-jurisdictional

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 6 Using Keyword AAA and AGIFT terms

thesaurus and terms cover Commonwealth government functions as well as


functions of other government jurisdictions.
Rule 2: Ensure that the scope is consistent
Before using an AGIFT term, you must ensure the scope of your organisations
function is consistent with the scope assigned to AGIFT term. It does not need to be
identical, but it must not be defined in a way that contradicts the scope of the same
term in AGIFT. Although it is conceivable that some organisational functions will be
identical in scope to AGIFT terms this is likely to be uncommon, since the selected
function would need to be performed only by the Commonwealth and only by a
single agency. The scope of the AGIFT term would also need to be at a level of
specificity useful for classification purposes.
AGIFT provides a national framework for public sector functional classification.
Your agencys classification regime sits within this national framework. It is
therefore important to ensure consistency with, and appropriate cross references
between, the function terms in your organisations business classification scheme
and related classification tools and relevant lower level function terms in AGIFT.
Fore more information on AGIFT, see
www.naa.gov.au/recordkeeping/gov_online/agift/summary.html
Documenting changes

The source of all functions and activities (Commonwealth version of Keyword


AAA, AGIFT or the organisations own business classification scheme) should be
noted clearly in the merged business classification scheme and related classification
tools. It is also essential that any changes made to Keyword AAA terms are
carefully documented. This will enable you to transfer the same changes to
subsequent editions of merged business classification schemes or classification tools
used in your organisation. These steps will also enable you to carefully track what
effect your modifications will have on the application of AFDA.

APPENDIX 7
FUNCTION
SOURCE
DOCUMENT
September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

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DIRKS manual Appendix 7 Function source document

APPENDIX 7
FUNCTION SOURCE DOCUMENT
Use this form to consolidate information gathered about functions, activities, and
transactions through Step B Analysis of business activity. Document
recordkeeping requirements identified in Step C in Table 2. Complete one form for
each function.
1.

Organisation:

2.

Function reference:

3.

Function term:

4.

Function scope note:

Function date range:


Start date
End date

5.

6.

Source and date of information

History of function

Briefly indicate any changes to the function through its history, including amendments to legislation
affecting or authorising the function

Date

Changes

Source

Other organisations that have administered the function (or linked activities)
Organisation Dates of
Activities
Source
responsibility

7.

8.

Business units that carry out the function

Name each business unit, branch and division responsible for all or part of the function.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 7 Function source document

Table 1
Complete for Step B Analysis of business activity

Note: A table cell will not accept more than one page of data. To monitor this, use Page layout view.
Activity

Stakeholders and nature of interest

Source of Authority

Risk
Transactions

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 7 Function source document

Table 2
Complete for Step C Identification of recordkeeping requirements

Note: A table cell will not accept more than one page of data. To monitor this, use Page layout view.
Activity:
Recordkeeping Requirements

Source

Stakeholder

Description of Records

Disposal Action

Other

Requirement
Type

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS users manual Appendix 7 Function source document

Guide to completing the Function source document


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

6.

7.

8.

Organisation: enter the name of the organisation being analysed.


Function reference: a consecutive number to identify the function.
Function term: the term used to describe the function.
Function scope note: the definition of the function term. See Step B.4.2.2 for
advice on writing scope notes.
Function date range: Based on research, give the date range for the function. If a
function is ongoing, no end date is needed. See Step B.4.2.3 of the manual for
advice on dating functions and activities. Indicate the source of the information,
including relevant page number, or for legislation, section number. Also include
the date of the source. You may use more than one source to determine the date
of a function, including interviews.
History of function: Describe the history of the function since its identified start
date. Possible points to include are changes to legislation, information on the
level of responsibility of agency, changing administrative control of the function,
the social and political importance of the function.
Other organisations that have administered the function (or linked activities):
Indicate the name of any other organisation that has carried out all or part of a
function, either before or concurrently with this organisation. Indicate the dates
during which the other organisation performed this role.
Business units that carry out the function: Name each business unit, branch
and division responsible for all or part of the function. Alternatively, attach a
detailed organisational chart with relevant areas highlighted. Once all functions
are identified, all business units (except administrative units) should be assigned
to one or more functions. It is important to note that many functions will cut
across business units.

Guide to completing Table 1

Complete Table 1 for every activity performed in relation to the function.


1. Data entry: A data cell will not hold more than one page of data. If you are in
Normal view it will accept and display more than a page of data on screen, but
it will not print beyond the first page. If you are in Page layout view, any data
beyond the first page will be hidden.
1. Activity: Include the activity term, scope note and date range. A reference
number for future use can also be included, eg A1, A2 etc.
2.

3.

Source of authority: This can be a formal source such as legislation, or informal


such as interview. It identifies how you know the activity is carried out. Provide
a summary of the relevant part and a source number relating to the register of
sources (question 22 of the Organisation context document).
If the activity has been carried out over a long period of time you will need to
ensure that the sources cover that period and note any that show a variation on
how the activity was carried out.
Stakeholders: Identify internal and external stakeholders who have an interest
in the activity and indicate the nature of their interest. See Step B.4.4.
6

National Archives of Australia

4.

5.

DIRKS manual Appendix 7 Function source document

Risk: Some activities within the function may carry a high risk. Indicate the
nature of any high risk. Risk assessment guidelines or the organisations risk
management plan may help identify these areas. See Step B.4.5
Transactions: List transactions that form the activity. Identifying transactions
can help determine the boundaries of an activity.

Guide to completing Table 2

Complete Table 2 for Step C Recordkeeping requirements


1. Data entry: A data cell will not hold more than one page of data. If you are in
Normal view it will accept and display more than a page of data on screen, but
it will not print beyond the first page. If you are in Page layout view, any data
beyond the first page will be hidden.
2. View: Make sure you are in Page layout view before you begin to enter data in
the table. A data cell will not hold more than one page of data.; you can monitor
this in Page layout view.
3. Activity: Include the activity term.
4. Recordkeeping requirements: Enter identified recordkeeping requirements
relating to the activity, for example keep register for 50 years, file must be
open to the public.
5. Source: Indicate the source of the requirement, including a specific part/section
reference for legislation. You can use the source number from the register of
sources. You may wish to copy and paste relevant parts of the text or include a
brief summary. The source of authority for an activity (in Table 1) will be a
source of recordkeeping requirements for the activity and there may be others.
For example, if source of authority for an activity is a piece of legislation, you
will find additional recordkeeping requirements in this legislation.
6. Stakeholder: Identify the stakeholder for the requirement. This may be
parliament for regulatory requirements, the organisation or a particular section
(eg audit section), or a community group (eg the RSL for Department of
Veterans affairs). One requirement may have a number of stakeholders.
7. Requirement type: Indicate whether the requirement relates to creation, access,
content, form, quality or retention.
8. Description of records and disposal action: If you are developing a disposal
authority, include the class description and recommended retention period. If
any requirements are not being met, justify and document this elsewhere.
9. Other: use this column to note any other issues. This may include
recommending a class for retention as national archives, to show that a risk
assessment has been conducted, or that there are specific requirements relating
to the retention of the records (eg storage for unusual formats).
Citing sources

You may need to revisit your sources again in later steps, or when re-using the
information for another project. To make this easier, it is important to cite
information correctly. See Appendix 1 Guide to documentary sources, for advice
on identifying and citing sources.
7

APPENDIX 8
PROCEDURES FOR
DEVELOPING A
RECORDS
DISPOSAL
AUTHORITY IN THE
COMMONWEALTH
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 8 Records disposal authority

APPENDIX 8
PROCEDURES FOR DEVELOPING A RECORDS DISPOSAL
AUTHORITY IN THE COMMONWEALTH
Aims and purpose

This appendix outlines the procedures that organisations should follow to assemble
and present to the National Archives the information that is required by the
Archives before it can authorise the disposal or destruction of Commonwealth
records. The procedures describe:

the role of the Archives in the appraisal and disposal process;

the procedures for developing and presenting disposal recommendations to the


Archives; and

the documentation requirements that organisations need to fulfil as they


progress through the steps of the DIRKS appraisal process that will lead to the
issuing of a disposal authority by the Archives.

These procedures complement and supplement the information in the main body of
the DIRKS manual.
What is appraisal?

Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management defines appraisal as the


process of evaluating business activities to determine which records need to be
captured and how long the records need to be kept, to meet business needs, the
requirements of organisational accountability and community expectations (AS
43901996, Part 1, Section 4.3).
The appraisal process is integral to designing recordkeeping systems. It helps to
inform systems designers of the functional requirements for creating, capturing,
maintaining and disposing of records over time. These requirements can then be
built into recordkeeping systems. The appraisal process is covered by the first three
steps of the DIRKS methodology. These steps are: Step A Preliminary
investigation, Step B Analysis of business activity, and Step C Identification of
recordkeeping requirements. At the end of Step C, disposal classes are developed
which are based on the identified recordkeeping requirements.
What is a records disposal authority?

Disposal authorities are legal documents issued by the National Archives of


Australia under Section 24 of the Archives Act 1983 to authorise the disposal of
Commonwealth records. Disposal authorities are also used to indicate classes of
records for which destruction is not authorised. The Archives Act provides that
records are not to be disposed of without the consent of the Archives unless the
action of disposal is positively required by law, or takes place in accordance with
normal administrative practice of which the Archives does not disapprove. Disposal
authorities are used to sentence records. Sentencing involves matching records to

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 8 Records disposal authority

appropriate disposal classes in disposal authorities, which in turn indicate the


retention periods for the records being sentenced.
Disposal authorities specify classes of records and the minimum length of time they
should be kept. General disposal authorities (GDAs) such as the Administrative
Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA) normally apply to all Commonwealth
organisations. The AFDA covers housekeeping and other administrative records
common to most organisations. Records disposal authorities (RDAs) apply to a
single organisation. Usually, organisations will implement their RDAs in
conjunction with the AFDA to achieve disposal coverage of the entirety of their
records.
RDAs developed in accordance with the DIRKS methodology will usually be
divided into a number of sections, with one function per section. The function and
activity relationships form the disposal set or disposal classes. These are described
in full, with the retention period being linked to the disposal class. Descriptions of
the function and activity are part of the disposal class. Each class has a reference
number that may or may not be sequential.
Role of the National Archives of Australia

Under the Archives Act 1983, the National Archives of Australia has the
responsibility to regulate the disposal of records in the Commonwealth. The Act
gives the National Archives functions and powers to:

ascertain the material which constitutes the archival resources of the


Commonwealth (sub-section 5(2)(d)); and

advise and assist agencies in the keeping of current Commonwealth records


in a manner that will facilitate their use as part of the archival resources of
the Commonwealth (sub-section 5(2)(c)).

Agencies are also required, on request, to furnish information to the Archives for
appraisal purposes (Regulation 3).
Section 24 of the Act prohibits the destruction, damage, alteration and transfer of
custody or ownership of the Commonwealth records except:

as required by law;

with the permission of the Archives;

in accordance with a practice or procedure approved by the Archives;

in accordance with a normal administrative practice (other than one of


which the Archives has said it disapproves); and

to return certain records to Commonwealth custody.

The legislative framework indicates that appraisal is a collaborative process


between the organisation and the Archives. The Archives assesses and authorises
the arrangements, makes final selection of records as national archives and provides

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 8 Records disposal authority

advice throughout the process. Disposal arrangements are largely based on the
organisations investigation and analysis of its business activities and environment.
Developing and presenting disposal recommendations

1.

Before starting an appraisal project notify the National Archives

The National Archives works closely with organisations throughout the course of
appraisal projects. Before commencing a DIRKS appraisal project organisations
should submit to the Archives a formal request to be added to the Archives work
plan. This request should be made in writing and signed by a senior officer. Contact
details are provided at the end of this appendix.
After joining the work plan, a representative of the National Archives will be
assigned to provide advice and assistance throughout the project. Please contact this
officer if you have any questions about your project. In addition, the Archives will
ask to see evidence of your analysis at each stage in the process (see Section 3
Documentation requirements). Archives Advice 49 Getting started with a DIRKS
appraisal project provides advice on how to undertake appraisal projects using the
DIRKS methodology.
2.

Define the scope of the appraisal project

Ideally, an appraisal project would cover the entire organisation. However, it may
not be practical to appraise all functions in one project. The Archives will accept a
minimum analysis of recordkeeping requirements relating to one function
provided:

that the business classification scheme has been developed to a stage of


specifying all the functions of the organisation; and

the business classification scheme specifies all activities and transactions for the
function being appraised.

The aim of this approach is to maintain an organisation-wide perspective, rather


than tackling individual sections or offices within the organisations.
3.

Develop a draft disposal authority

To develop a draft disposal authority, organisations will need to:

complete DIRKS steps A to C

formulate disposal classes

describe the records in each disposal class

identify the date range covered by each disposal class

determine disposal actions for each class

validate the disposal classes

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 8 Records disposal authority

Complete DIRKS Steps A, B and C


Organisations that are intending to develop a disposal authority are required to
complete Steps A, B and C of the DIRKS methodology. The following advice
assumes that you are familiar with the functional analysis undertaken in Steps A, B
and C. The Archives will review the results of your research and analysis conducted
during Steps A and B before you start work on identifying recordkeeping
requirements (Step C) and developing disposal recommendations. (See Section 3
Documentation requirements.)
Formulate disposal classes
The first step in developing a records disposal authority is to formulate disposal
classes. A disposal class comprises five elements:

the function;

the activities and transactions of the function;

description of records types;

date range of the records; and

disposal action.

You analysed your organisations functions, activities and transactions in Step B.


The functions and activities provide the first two elements of a disposal class and
are the basis of the structure of a disposal authority.
Describe the records in each disposal class
The transactions identified in Step B and the recordkeeping requirements identified
in Step C will provide the basis for describing the records in a disposal class. You
will need to list the transactions identified for each activity of a function. For
example, a function may have the activity meetings, which has the following
transactions:

determine time and venue of meeting;

book meeting room;

write agenda;

circulate agenda, agenda papers and minutes of previous meeting;

record apologies;

record minutes of meeting;

circulate draft minutes for corrections and modifications;

direct action to be carried out as a result of decisions made at meeting.

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DIRKS manual Appendix 8 Records disposal authority

These transactions will result in a number of record types. Records created in the
course of the transactions that comprise the activity meeting, for example, will
include:

agenda;

agenda papers;

minutes of previous meeting;

draft minutes of meeting;

final minutes of meeting;

records directing action to be taken as a result of the meeting.

The next step is to identify the recordkeeping requirements of each record type and
group records together that have the same recordkeeping requirements into a
disposal class. For example, a business requirement may have been identified that
final minutes of meetings and key papers are required for a longer period than
records relating to administrative arrangements for meetings. Two disposal classes
can therefore be developed for the activity meetings. A simple description of these
two classes could be as follows:
1. Final minutes and supporting documents tabled at meetings held to discuss
matters relating to [.] function includes meetings with external agencies.
2. Records documenting administrative arrangements includes agenda, notice
of meeting and draft minutes.
You may also wish to include subject references in the description, for example,
Records of meetings relating to international liaison.
The records described together in a disposal class should form a cohesive group and
be linked by the same retention period. The description should be broad enough to
encompass as many related records as possible without being too generic. It must
also be easily understood and have defined boundaries.
Terminology that requires a value judgement should be avoided, for example,
significant, major, minor and controversial. Opinions on what was
controversial can change with time and can depend on the historical knowledge of
the person implementing the authority. Instead, use more descriptive phrases such
as involved ministerial intervention or evidence of interest and scrutiny in the
public arena.
Where possible, add a qualifier such as includes to give examples of the kinds of
records that may be sentenced under a class. For example:
includes:

documents establishing the committee;

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final versions of minutes;

briefing papers;

final version of reports.

DIRKS manual Appendix 8 Records disposal authority

There is no minimum or maximum number of disposal classes for each function or


activity. However, if there are no disposal classes for an activity you should
investigate whether the activity is actually performed by your organisation.
Identify the date range of each disposal class
The date range for a disposal class indicates the earliest date and latest date of
records that the class may be applied to. For example, if a class has the date range
19601985, it can only be used to sentence records that were created between those
dates. It can be an open-ended date (eg 1985 ) range if you want the class to be
used for future records. Generally, the date range for a class is the same as for the
activity. It may be different if, for example, a new piece of legislation has come into
force, or if there has been a change to rules or procedures that affect the
recordkeeping requirements. An example of this can be found in the Administrative
Functions Disposal Authority under the function and activity pair, Publication
Production. The Copyright Act 1968 included a new requirement for publications to
be lodged with the National Library of Australia. Under this functional activity
there is one class, for publications produced before 1968 and another for
publications produced after 1968.
Determine disposal actions
The disposal action specified in a disposal class is based on the retention
requirements identified during Step C Identification of recordkeeping
requirements. Specific retention or disposal periods are rarely mentioned in
legislation or documentary sources, so interviews will usually be the main means of
identifying these requirements. When determining disposal actions you should
consider the organisations need to refer to or reuse the information, any audit
requirements and any requirements identified by consulting with external
stakeholders. Conflicting requirements should be resolved through an assessment of
the risks involved (see Appendix 11 Risk analysis in DIRKS). The National
Archives publication Why Records Are Kept provides further information on the
archival objectives of the appraisal regime for Commonwealth records.
One common disposal action is Destroy when reference ceases. It should be used
for groups of records that have transitory value, for example additional or surplus
copies of policies, minor working papers etc. Usually, such records would be kept
for a year or less. This disposal action is suitable for cases where more formal
disposal coverage is required than instances of disposal under normal
administrative practice, but the records nevertheless have low value.
The Archives undertakes responsibility for designating classes as retain as national
archives (RNA) and in doing so may consult with interested groups in the broader
community. Organisations may recommend classes for retention. Any
recommendation should be justified against one or more of the appraisal criteria in
Why Records Are Kept and documented in Table 2 of Appendix 7 Function source
8

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DIRKS manual Appendix 8 Records disposal authority

document (Other column). Recommendations for retention as national archives


could be based on the importance of the function and activity to the agency,
government or Australian society (see criteria 14, Why Records Are Kept).
Recommendations may also be based on whether particular records contain
valuable information, mark an important period in history or simply have particular
aesthetic value (see criterion 5, Why Records Are Kept).
Even if you are nominating a class as RNA, you should still include the disposal
action required by your business if the RNA nomination is rejected by the Archives. If
you have strong business reasons why records need to be retained indefinitely, but
they do not meet the criteria for national archives, you can make a recommendation
of retain for business needs. You should note that such classes of records cannot be
transferred to National Archives custody so you are committing your organisation
to maintaining these records. Such recommendations will need to be persuasive
enough to convince senior management in your organisation to commit resources to
the indefinite retention of these records.
Validate the disposal classes by checking existing records
Once you have drafted your disposal classes it is useful to test their applicability
against samples of existing records to ensure the classes are meaningful and
useable. This process may also reveal omissions from the draft disposal authority. It
is important, however, to remember that you are appraising the need for records
related to the functions and activities of your organisation, not just the particular
records that have been created in the past to support that work. Remember that the
disposal authority, in most cases, will be used to sentence records created in the
future as well as those that have already been created. While it is important to have
an authority that is useable for existing records, do not make the classes so narrow
that they cannot be used for the range of records which may be created in the
future.
Documentation requirements

The National Archives needs to see certain information during the course of DIRKS
appraisal projects in order to ensure that the projects progress appropriately. The
Archives documentation requirements are explained below and should be
completed in accordance with the methodology outlined in the DIRKS manual. Use
of the templates or documentation database referred to is optional. The Archives
will accept documentation presented in different formats, but please discuss your
preferred format with your Archives contact officer first to ensure that all the
necessary information will be assembled.
Documentation requirements for Step A
At the end of this step, please submit:

An organisation context document (See Appendix 5 Organisation context


document);

a project plan; and

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DIRKS manual Appendix 8 Records disposal authority

a covering letter, signed by a senior manager outlining the goals of the


agency in undertaking the project.

The National Archives will review these documents to ensure that:

all relevant aspects of the organisation have been investigated and


adequately explained in the organisation context document;

the organisation has been defined appropriately and overlaps with other
organisations, such as boards of management, identified;

relevant sources have been used and referenced;

the project plan sets a realistic time frame and no tasks have been
overlooked;

the project is grounded in a wider understanding of recordkeeping and


information management within your organisation; and

the appropriate management level has signed off on the documentation.

Documentation requirements for Step B


At the end of this step, please submit:

a function source document for each function (see Appendix 7 Function


source document); and

the business classification scheme.

The function source document includes two tables. Table 1 Analysis of business
activity should be completed by the end of Step B. It provides a summary of the
source of authority for each activity, an identification of stakeholders and their
interests and a list of transactions. Some recordkeeping requirements will be
identified in the course of Step B and can be documented in Table 2. However, Table
2 Identification of recordkeeping requirements does not need to be completed
until the end of Step C.
The business classification scheme must include functions and activities with scope
notes and date ranges. You should also indicate whether an activity term derives
from Keyword AAA. It is not compulsory to include the transactional analysis in
the business classification scheme, as it is covered in the function source document.
The Archives will check the material presented to ensure that:

the entire organisation has been covered (excluding general administrative


functions covered by Keyword AAA);

appropriate sources have been examined and identified;

functions and activities are pitched at an appropriate level, boundaries are


clearly defined and there are no overlaps or inconsistencies;

10

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 8 Records disposal authority

the identification of functions, activities and transactions are based on an


examination of business activity rather than current recordkeeping practices;

functions and activities are dated;

scope notes for the functions and activities reflect their subordinate
components, ie the activities for the functions, and transactions for the
activities, and do not contain recordkeeping advice;

Keyword AAA activities have not been altered;

stakeholders and their interests have been identified; and

there is evidence of appropriate retrospective analysis of the functions.

Documentation requirements for Step C and disposal classes


For appraisal purposes you will need to complete Table 2 of the function source
document or the relevant fields of the documentation database. This includes
information gathered during Step C and disposal recommendations. In Table 2 you
will note recordkeeping requirements, linked to particular stakeholders, and
identify the type of requirement (ie creation, disposal, retention, form etc). The
records description, recommended disposal action and any nominations for
retention as national archives, if made, are also documented in Table 2. Again, if
you wish to use alternative formats for presenting this documentation please
discuss this with your contact officer at the Archives.
At the end of your analysis for Step C and after you have developed the description
of records, and nominated a disposal action, you will need to submit:

the function source document with completed Table 2;

any evidence of risk assessments, if undertaken;

evidence of senior management approval; and

a request for cancellation of previous disposal authorities, where relevant.

To ensure that there are minimal changes to the disposal recommendations after
senior management approval, please submit the documentation to National
Archives as a draft prior to gaining formal sign-off.
The Archives will check the material presented to ensure that:

the identification of recordkeeping requirements is comprehensive and


based on relevant sources;

recordkeeping requirements have been linked to stakeholders;

there are no inconsistencies, overlaps or omissions in the disposal classes;

recommendations for retain as national archives are justified;

11

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DIRKS manual Appendix 8 Records disposal authority

the disposal classes are clearly based in identified requirements;

evidence of any risk analysis has been submitted; and

a request for cancellation of previous disposal authorities is present, where


relevant.

The Archives may also determine that some classes of records should be retained as
national archives. This will be based on the appraisal criteria in Why Records Are
Kept and may involve consultation with the National Archives staff and external
stakeholders.
Obtaining a disposal authority

When all documentation and approval is received and checked the National
Archives will issue a draft disposal authority and seek formal approval from the
agencys senior manager. The letter from this officer should also include permission
for the cancellation of earlier disposal authorities. The numbers of earlier authorities
should be included. When concurrence is received the Archives will formally issue a
disposal authority under section 24 of the Archives Act.
Further information

Further information about appraisal and requests for inclusion on the work plan
please contact:
Director
Recordkeeping Implementation
National Archives of Australia
GPO Box 7425
Canberra Mail Centre ACT 2610
Phone: (02) 6212 3610
Email: recordkeeping@naa.gov.au

12

APPENDIX 9
GUIDE TO
DEVELOPING A
BUSINESS CASE
FOR A DIRKS
PROJECT
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 9 Business case

APPENDIX 9
GUIDE TO DEVELOPING A BUSINESS CASE FOR A DIRKS PROJECT
Introduction

The DIRKS methodology recommends the development of a business case to obtain


management support for a recordkeeping, records management or information
management project. A business case is developed to convince management of the
viability of a proposed course of action and to justify the resource commitment
required to achieve a desired outcome. This document provides guidance on
developing arguments likely to persuade management to endorse a project.
Business cases and DIRKS

One of the major strengths of DIRKS is its capacity to be phased. This allows
projects to be scoped according to the resources and time frames available. Discrete
DIRKS projects deliver immediate outcomes and benefits, which then provide the
basis for later projects and additional outcomes and benefits. A business case may
be developed for each project.
The development of a business case is recommended to:

obtain the resources and commitment required to undertake the preliminary


investigation (Step A);

obtain commitment to undertake an analysis of business activity (Step B) and


identification of recordkeeping requirements (Step C);

fund the development of a functions thesaurus and functions-based records


disposal authority;

to gain support for a project to analyse the state of current recordkeeping


within the organisation (Step D) and identify methods by which gaps between
recordkeeping requirements and the reality of recordkeeping might be
rectified (Step E);

to obtain commitment for a project to implement one or more of the methods


identified to rectify gaps in current recordkeeping (Steps F and G).

Constructing a persuasive business case

A business case, by nature, is a bid for resource and management commitment to a


proposed course of action. In order to succeed in obtaining the resources required to
undertake the project, the business case must be as persuasive as possible. To be
persuasive a business case must convince management of the viability of a
proposed project. Certain issues must be comprehensively addressed.
Headings to include

Your organisation may have an internal standard for the development of a business
case, which will guide the preparation of an argument for a DIRKS project. If not,
the following sections are suggested:

National Archives of Australia

1.

Executive summary and recommendation

2.

Purpose and objectives

3.

Scope

4.

Determining the preferred option

5.

Project plan

6.

Project management
Responsibility
Resources
Cost-benefit analysis

7.

DIRKS manual Appendix 9 Business case

8.

Assumptions
Time period
Costs
Benefits
Conclusion

9.

Appendix: Analyses of non-preferred options.

What to include under each heading

1. Executive summary and recommendation


This is the most important section of the business case. The arguments to secure
agreement for a DIRKS project are concisely summarised. Benefits likely to gain
management attention and commitment are emphasised. It is usual to write this
part of the business case last, once the analysis for the preferred option has been
completed. This section clearly states the reasons why a preferred option is
recommended. It will be the first (and maybe the only) section resource allocators
read and will need to be the most persuasive.
2. Purpose and objectives
Explain the purpose of the proposed project. This is the broad causal statement and
should clearly explain why the project is necessary. This is a very important element
of the report as it should convince management of the requirement for such a
project, either by demonstrating there is a current problem or that the organisation's
goals would be better served by initiating change.
The business case must convince management that the project will contribute to, or
help realise, one or more of the organisation's strategic goals. To define these, utilise
the organisation's strategic plan, corporate plan or mission statement.
The objectives must be proven to be a logical outcome or by-product of the project.
If they are not clearly linked in this way, the argument will lose credibility and the
business case will be unlikely to achieve its aim. Be realistic when identifying and
listing objectives.

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DIRKS manual Appendix 9 Business case

Where the proposed project can be linked to helping the organisation achieve, or
partially achieve, a whole-of-government directive, such as the government online
directive, this can be used as a strong selling point. Knowing your organisation's
'corporate culture' will help you make decisions. Tailor your arguments to suit your
audience. For example:

if the government online strategy is perceived as important, emphasise this


issue;

if 'knowledge management' is a buzz phrase, emphasise how DIRKS can


improve the knowledge process; or

if adherence to standards is important to your organisation, emphasise the


link with Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management.

Information management and information technology tend to be better resourced


than records management and recordkeeping. Records management is a subset of
information management. Information technology can provide technical solutions
for records management. Think about framing your project within this broader
context.
A DIRKS project has the potential to deliver benefits that help to realise many of an
organisations strategic objectives. Examples of the possible objectives of a DIRKS
project are listed in Part 1, Section 3 Benefits and outcomes of recordkeeping and
DIRKS. Explicitly link the DIRKS project to the organisation's strategic direction and
specify how it will help the organisation achieve its business goals.
Some further strategic objectives that a DIRKS project can help to achieve are:

compliance with governance obligations;

improved compliance with legal, regulatory and community expectations;

compliance with whole-of-government objectives such as govonline,


transacting business via the Internet;

decreased exposure to, and better management of, evidence related risks;

improved retention and access to corporate memory;

better knowledge sharing;

management of records in line with creation and retention requirements;

improved integration of electronic recordkeeping and wider information


management with business systems, applications and technologies;

accountable decision-making;

better capacity to explain actions and decisions;

increased consistency and continuity of program delivery and policy


formation;

increased productivity and streamlining of business processes;

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DIRKS manual Appendix 9 Business case

greater business confidence;

decreased storage and labour costs;

decreased cost in freedom of information and discovery compliance costs; and

decreased costs in business dispute resolution.

3. Scope
Define what is included in the project and what is not. This will set parameters and
identify the beginning and end of the project. The outcomes that are sought and the
outputs to be produced are also identified. If you are doing a 'staged'
implementation of DIRKS, give details of any previous steps completed and provide
information on why this step needs to be completed before another can be started.
4. Determining the preferred option
Different options to achieve the desired results should be explored when
developing a business case. These may be many and varied or restricted and
narrow, depending on the scope of the problem or need. For instance, if the desired
project was to undertake Steps AC of DIRKS and develop a records disposal
authority, possible options are:

undertake the work in-house with optimum number of resources;

undertake the work in-house with restricted resources over a longer time
frame; or

appoint a consultant to undertake the work.

Compare the possible approaches, presenting the advantages and disadvantages of


each option in the document. At the least, a 'do nothing' scenario should be
included, exploring the costs and benefits of maintaining the current situation.
Explain why the preferred option is the most viable and why it is selected.
5. Project plan of preferred option
Carefully map the steps involved in the project in a logical order. Decide which
steps need to precede others and which processes can progress in parallel. At each
point highlight major benefits and outcomes and clearly indicate the resources and
inputs required. It is important to be realistic when developing the project plan.
Allow for unexpected delays and develop a contingency plan.
6. Project management
Explain how the project will be managed. Management issues include:

project management (Background, Section 7.1 Managing the project);

change management (Background, Section 7.2 Change management);

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DIRKS manual Appendix 9 Business case

risk management (Appendix 11 Risk analysis in DIRKS); and

quality management (Step G, Section G.4.1.6 Quality systems).

Responsibility
Decide who has responsibility to manage the project and deliver its expected
benefits. This person will also be accountable for any adjustments in the project's
time frame, resource requirements and expected benefits (see Part I, Section 7.1
Managing the project).
Resources
Specify the resource commitment required to undertake the project. This includes
skilled personnel, financial allocations, equipment and supporting technology. Part
1 Background and purposes of the DIRKS manual gives an overview of the skills
and personnel required to undertake the whole of DIRKS. The resources needed for
each step are clearly stated in the Resources and prerequisites section of each step of
the DIRKS manual.
Management accepts that projects need resources. Provide a detailed, full and fair
picture of the resources required. A false or 'rosy' underestimate could jeopardise
the project in the long term. It could also jeopardise justifications for resources for
future projects. Maintain the project's credibility: be realistic not optimistic or
simplistic.
The types of skills and experience required in the project team are diverse. A DIRKS
project involves project management skills, conceptual and analytical skills as well
as practical and operational skills. A DIRKS project also draws on the experience of
stakeholders. For instance, interviewing operational staff in other business areas.
Indicate where these resources are available. This can include elements of program
budgets or personnel that can be redirected towards the achievement of project
objectives. Where it is possible to undertake the proposed project and deliver the
desired benefits within the resource and skill base available, this should be stressed.
However, where it is necessary to acquire resources or skills externally this should
be clearly stated.
Management is more likely to endorse the allocation of financial resources to a
project if the predicted return on the investment (benefits minus costs) is persuasive.
7. Costbenefit analysis
Costbenefit analysis is a tool used to support the proposed project. By detailing the
expected costs and benefits to be derived from the project, management is provided
with the information required to decide whether to resource the project or not.
DIRKS manual Appendix 10 Recordkeeping costbenefit analysis will assist you in
developing a project costbenefit analysis.
Assumptions
Identify and clearly outline any assumptions used in the costbenefit analysis,
quantitative (measurable) or qualitative.

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Time period
The period covered by the costbenefit analysis should be long enough to
incorporate all expected costs and benefits of the project, both short and long term.
Costs
List all costs associated with undertaking the project, whether one-off or recurrent.
A DIRKS project will involve costs in terms of staff, training, skills and technology.
Bear in mind that it is relatively easy to quantify the costs of a DIRKS project, but
difficult to quantify its benefits.
Your organisation's experience will be unique. Cost estimates from other
organisations can give a false impression of the costs your organisation will
encounter.
A guide to analysing and determining project costs is detailed in Appendix 10
Recordkeeping costbenefit analysis.
Benefits
Describe the expected improvements, or benefits, to be achieved by undertaking the
project, whether one-off or ongoing. Many benefits are intangible but are still
valuable tools to convince management to commit resources to a project. Most
benefits are qualitative and, therefore, difficult to quantify or cost.
Governance obligations, like those contained in the Financial Management and
Accountability Act, are imposed on senior management in organisations. Meeting
these legal obligations, or improving accountability, are key benefits. Organisations
have little choice but to comply with these obligations. Therefore, emphasise the
benefit to be achieved (ie compliance with obligations) rather than potential cost
savings. DIRKS will help organisations achieve compliance with records
management obligations. Secondary benefits may also be derived from a project.
These can be outlined, and may prove persuasive, but again they must be practical
and realistic.
Further information on analysing and identifying benefits is detailed in Appendix
10 Recordkeeping costbenefit analysis.
8. Conclusion
This is the final opportunity to persuade management to expend resources on a
DIRKS project. The significance of the problem or need to be overcome is re-stated.
It summarises the rationale for the proposed action, refers to the supporting
evidence gained in the costbenefit analysis, and shows how the preferred DIRKS
project option will help to realise specific strategic objectives.
9. Appendix: Analyses of non-preferred options
An appendix showing the costbenefit calculations and feasibility of other options,
which were considered but rejected, is a useful addition to the business case. This
will clearly state the reasons why other options were unsatisfactory and reinforce
why the preferred option was chosen.
8

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Presenting the business case

The person who develops the business case will need to be experienced in project
planning and have the ability to undertake a costbenefit analysis. The proposed
project manager will most likely undertake this task.
The written business case should be clear, concise and written to suit its intended
audience in this case management.
It is also desirable to orally present the business case to stakeholders. Benefits may
then be emphasised and issues addressed immediately.
Conclusion

Putting together a business case for a proposed project will ensure that a decision to
embark on the project is supported by fully documented costs, benefits and
outcomes. It provides the rationale and justification for undertaking the project.
During the life of the project, the business case should be used as a benchmark
against which actual costs and benefits may be assessed against expected costs and
benefits.

APPENDIX 10
RECORDKEEPING
COSTBENEFIT
ANALYSIS
September 2001 (rev July 2003)

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 10 Costbenefit analysis

APPENDIX 10
RECORDKEEPING COSTBENEFIT ANALYSIS
Introduction

These guidelines give advice on the preparation of a costbenefit analysis. A cost


benefit analysis provides an economic framework to evaluate the viability of a
proposed project. Costbenefit principles are explained in the context of
undertaking DIRKS projects. This type of analysis enables records and information
management staff to assess the likely impacts, advantages and disadvantages of
implementing DIRKS.
A costbenefit analysis is resource intensive and needs to be clearly defined before
beginning. It must be properly justified on the basis of the business needs of the
agency. The results of the analysis are a valuable justification tool, which can be
used in a business case to obtain management support for records management or
information management projects.
What is costbenefit analysis?

Costbenefit analysis is the systematic gathering of technical and financial data


about a given business situation or function. Information gathered and analysed
through this method assists decision-making about resource allocation.
A costbenefit analysis specifies financial inputs and expected returns from a given
project. It compares with and without situations. The results of this analysis can
be used to evaluate alternative options. It can strongly support a bid for
management endorsement and resource allocation.
To undertake a costbenefit analysis the scope, purpose and objectives of the
proposed project must be explicit.
Objectives of the costbenefit analysis

You will need to know the purpose and business objectives that the proposed
DIRKS project is expected to realise. Ensure that sufficient resources are assigned to
undertake the analysis. Consider the availability of capable staff, the ease of data
collection, including accessibility to financial data, and possible interruption to
normal routines.
Scope for the costbenefit analysis

The scope of the proposed DIRKS project will set the parameters of the costs and
benefits to be considered in the costbenefit analysis.
What are costs?
Costs are anticipated expenditure. They can be tangible, and therefore quantifiable,
or intangible and less easy to assign a dollar figure. Costing a project is difficult and
advice from financial staff will be helpful.

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Attempt to provide a dollar figure for each cost. When quantifying costs that will be
encountered in the future, consider whether inflation should be factored in.
Gathering as much relevant data as possible will ensure accurate results.
Even so, some costs may need to be estimated, as clear-cut figures may not be
available. The use of best guess estimates is valid for intangible costs, as they will
have to be, by definition, estimations. Where this is necessary, ensure that the
assumptions used to assign a dollar figure are stated.
Tangible or quantifiable costs
Information on the level of staff expertise and training required to undertake the
proposed project and its expected time frame are tangible costs.
Cost types include:

direct project costs (eg staff, office space);

acquisition costs (eg purchase of technology);

implementation costs (eg loss of productivity); and

whole of life ownership costs (eg operating costs, maintenance,


upgrade/replacement of facilities, staff, training and support).

Intangible or non-quantifiable costs


Costs associated with intangibles, although not easy to quantify, need to be
recognised as they can impact on the overall costs of the project under
consideration. The costbenefit analysis should acknowledge non-quantifiable costs,
even if they are not factored into the calculations in the analysis.
Depending on the project, some intangible costs to consider may include:

the impact of non-compliance with legislation;

impaired knowledge management (exacerbated by decentralised operations);

diminished corporate memory (compounded by administrative change and


high staff turnover);

the impact of not achieving best practice standards, ie not complying with the
International Standards Organisation Records Management Standard (ISO
15489);

potential litigation costs due to inadequate records management and


information management;

reduced accountability in decision-making and actions; and

reduced organisational productivity.

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DIRKS manual Appendix 10 Costbenefit analysis

What are benefits?


Benefits are the returns expected from a project. Most benefits are articulated in
terms of improvements or cost savings. Like costs, benefits can be quantifiable
(tangible) and non-quantifiable (intangible).
Attempt to provide a dollar figure for each benefit. Again, when quantifying
benefits that will be achieved in the future, consider whether inflation should be
included. Again, seek advice from financial staff.
Bear in mind that secondary benefits may also be derived from a project that is,
benefits that will be achieved because other benefits were delivered. They must be
practical and realistic. The best way to achieve this is to investigate benefits over a
reasonable time frame.
Tangible or quantifiable benefits
Tangible benefits are quantifiable service or financial gains to the organisation.
Tangible benefits include:

improved effectiveness (eg improved service delivery, improved access);

improved efficiency (eg reduced costs, more efficient use of existing


resources); and

enabling or supporting other benefits (eg using business analysis (Step B) for
work process re-engineering).

Intangible or non-quantifiable benefits


Intangible benefits are non-quantifiable improvements in the welfare of the
organisation. These are still valuable tools in convincing management to undertake
a proposed DIRKS project. Intangible benefits include:

compliance with governance obligations;

achieving best practice standard, ie compliance with International Standards


Organisation Records Management Standard (ISO 15489);

reduced exposure to litigation costs due to appropriate records and


information management;

compliance with recordkeeping requirements;

improved management of corporate memory;

improved policy formation and delivery; and

increased organisational productivity.

Organisations have little choice but to comply with legislative requirements.


Therefore, quantifying these benefits may not be very useful. It is more important to
emphasise the benefit of achieving compliance.

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DIRKS manual Appendix 10 Costbenefit analysis

Additional factors

Although a costbenefit analysis provides useful information, there are some


shortcomings to avoid. Do not use the analysis to justify a vested interest. This can
be overcome, to a degree, by making the assumptions relied on in the costbenefit
analysis explicit from the outset. Avoid over-estimation of benefits and underestimation of costs.
Full disclosure of predicted costs and benefits will minimise bias. Bear in mind that
taking intangible factors into account will limit the accuracy of the final calculation.
Some questions to help you check your methodology include:

What were the original questions the costbenefit analysis attempted to


answer and are they fully addressed?

What other strategies (such as risk or feasibility analysis) were used in


conjunction with the costbenefit analysis?

Are the cost estimates justifiable?

Were the methods of evaluation satisfactory?

Was any relevant cost omitted?

Is the information used reliable?

Is the measurement of benefits justifiable?

Has allowance been made for either uncertainty in the expected costs and
benefits or the differential timing of costs or benefits?

How high would your level of confidence be making recommendations based


on your costbenefit analysis?

Determining costbenefit analysis results

Compare the overall costs and the overall benefits that the proposed DIRKS project
would deliver to the organisation. Are the benefits derived more important than the
costs to the organisation? Figures in dollars will strengthen an argument as to why
the DIRKS project is viable and valuable.
Management is more likely to endorse the allocation of financial resources if the
predicted return on investment (benefits minus costs) is persuasive.
Incorporate the calculations and findings of the costbenefit analysis into a business
case to support the proposed DIRKS project. The report should highlight costs and
benefits in monetary figures, but also emphasise the intangible facets associated
with undertaking the proposed DIRKS project.
DIRKS and costbenefit analysis

Cost benefit analysis can be used in each of the steps in the DIRKS methodology. By
collecting and analysing costbenefit information you will be able to make informed
recommendations in a business case for a proposed DIRKS project.
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DIRKS manual Appendix 10 Costbenefit analysis

Steps A, C, D, E, F, G and H of the DIRKS process are particularly suited to cost


benefit analysis. See below for some ideas of the costs and benefits of undertaking
DIRKS projects.
Costbenefit analysis with feasibility and risk assessment

Costbenefit analysis can be used on its own or in conjunction with other analytical
tools, such as recordkeeping feasibility analysis and recordkeeping risk assessment.
A recordkeeping feasibility analysis assesses how viable a project is (see Appendix
12 Recordkeeping feasibility analysis). It may indicate it is not financially,
technically or operationally feasible to proceed. A recordkeeping risk analysis
specifies the consequences, or risks, involved in taking, or not taking, a particular
action (see Appendix 11 Risk analysis in DIRKS).
Steps A, B and C of DIRKS some costs and benefits

Steps AC of DIRKS are about placing the organisation in its context, analysing its
business and investigating its requirements for evidence. These steps form the basis
for the development of two important recordkeeping products a classification tool
such as a functions thesaurus and a records disposal authority.
A costbenefit analysis can be used to identify the costs and benefits that would
accrue to the organisation by undertaking these steps of the DIRKS methodology.
The following ideas on the costs and benefits could be considered in such an
analysis.
Costs to be considered include:

time and expertise of staff/consultants undertaking the process; and

access to time and expertise of operational and management staff.

Benefits that may accrue to the organisation include:

compliance with the International Standards Organization Records


Management Standard (ISO 15489) and National Archives policies;

compliance with legislative requirements;

compliance with government-wide policy initiatives;

a substantial understanding of business conducted;

an appreciation of requirements to make and keep records;

an appreciation of level of exposure to evidence-related risk;

an intellectual framework for the classification of records and to support


appraisal decisions and disposal actions, and

cost savings generated from better recordkeeping and records management


practices.

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DIRKS manual Appendix 10 Costbenefit analysis

Products delivered:

a business classification scheme;

documented recordkeeping requirements;

a classification tool such as a functions thesaurus; and

a records disposal authority.

Steps D, E, F, G and H of DIRKS some costs and benefits

Steps DH of DIRKS are about assessing current systems and practices and
implementing strategies to rectify problems arising from current processes. A cost
benefit analysis can be used to identify the costs and benefits that would accrue to
the organisation by undertaking these steps of the DIRKS methodology. The
following list provides ideas on the costs and benefits that could be considered if
implementing a new or revised electronic recordkeeping system.
Costs to be considered include:

acquisition and maintenance of equipment;

upgrade, redesign or enhancement of current networks;

acquisition, testing and maintenance of software;

development and delivery of training for support staff and users;

conversion of records from current system; and

system administration.

Benefits that may accrue to the organisation include:

compliance with the International Standards Organization Records


Management Standard (ISO 15489) and National Archives policies;

compliance with legislative requirements;

compliance with government-wide policy initiatives;

universal access to records;

delivery of services in a consistent and equitable manner;

business conducted in an effective, orderly, efficient and accountable manner;

reduced risk of loss of vital records;

consistently meeting requirements to make and keep records;

documentation of business transacted;

support and maintenance of corporate memory; and

cost savings generated from better recordkeeping and records management


practices.
8

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DIRKS manual Appendix 10 Costbenefit analysis

Products delivered:

new or revised electronic recordkeeping system; and

policies and procedures.

Further reading

Treasury, Office of Financial Management, Economic Appraisal: Principles and


Procedures Simplified, Sydney, Revised edition, NSW Government, Sydney, 1999.
Kingma, Bruce R, The Economics of Information: A Guide to Economic and CostBenefit
Analysis for Information Professionals, Libraries Unlimited, Engelwood Col., 1996
Department of Finance, Introduction to CostBenefit Analysis for Program Managers,
2nd edition, AGPS, Canberra, 1995.
JA Sinden and Thampapillai, DJ, Introduction to CostBenefit Analysis, Longman,
Melbourne, 1995.
Perkins, Francis, Practical CostBenefit Analysis: Basic Concepts and Applications,
Macmillan Education Australia, South Melbourne, 1994.

APPENDIX 11
RISK ANALYSIS IN
DIRKS
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 11 Risk analysis

APPENDIX 11
RISK ANALYSIS IN DIRKS
Risk arises out of uncertainty. It is the exposure to the possibility of such things as
economic or financial loss or gain, physical damage, injury or delay, as a
consequence of pursuing a particular course of action. The concept of risk has two
elements, the likelihood of something happening and the consequence if it happens.
[1]
What is risk management?

Risk management is defined as the systematic application of policies, procedures


and practices to the tasks of identifying, analysing, evaluating, treating, and
monitoring risk. [2] Essentially it involves anticipating what can go wrong, why
and what can be done. Risk management can be applied at any stage in the life of a
policy, program, project, activity or asset and can also be applied to all levels of
your organisation strategic and operational.
Risk management does not mean that risks can be prevented or avoided completely.
Rather it enables your organisation to reduce the impact of risk to an acceptable
level and to make contingency arrangements. The level of risk relates to the
likelihood of something happening (ie its frequency or probability) and the potential
consequences (ie its impact or magnitude of effect). The level of risk is influenced by
any controls, or measures, currently in place to minimise the likelihood of the
occurrence or its consequences.
The process of designing and implementing recordkeeping systems involves
numerous risk-based decisions. Often these decisions are made intuitively. The
formal adoption of risk management principles is not intended to introduce
unnecessary complexity or levels of bureaucracy into your recordkeeping practices.
Rather it is intended to provide a systematic approach to what you already do, and
thereby improve organisational accountability.
The purpose of this document is to raise awareness about risk management
principles and techniques in the context of your recordkeeping project. More
extensive information on managing risk and using analytical tools is available in the
references cited in the endnotes. [3]
DIRKS and the risk assessment process

Each of the steps in the DIRKS methodology involves identifying and assessing
risks associated with particular business activities, developmental activities or
recordkeeping decisions. Risk management activities are indicated in each step.
Steps B, C, E, F, G and H require particular attention to risk factors and warrant
careful consideration to safeguard the outcome of your project.
You may prefer to prepare separate risk registers and risk reduction plans for each
step or to consolidate the information from several steps. If you wish to consolidate
information on risk, ensure that the distinction between risks associated with
business activities (Steps A and B), recordkeeping (Step C) and project development
(Steps EH) remains clear.
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DIRKS manual Appendix 11 Risk analysis

Assessing and managing risk

There are a number of possible risk management models. The model developed for
managing risk in the Australian Public Service uses a six-step approach:

establish the context (ie define the political, social, economic, legal and
physical environment in which the activity is conducted);

identify all risks arising from the environment (ie identify the source of each
risk, when, where, why and how it is likely to occur, who might be involved
and what its consequences might be);

analyse the risks (ie determine the likelihood and impact of each risk
occurring, taking into consideration any existing controls which may detect
or prevent potential or undesirable risks);

assess and prioritise risks (ie consider the degree of control over each risk,
the cost, benefits and opportunities presented by each risk, decide which
risk(s) are unacceptable and rank them for treatment);

treat risks (ie decide what cost-effective counter-measures need to be in


place to help minimise the unacceptable risks and/or their impact and
prepare and implement action plans; and

continually monitor and review risks (ie periodically review the


environment, known and potential risks, priorities, treatments and plans,
and make adjustments as necessary). [4]

These steps are described in detail in the Guidelines for Managing Risk in the
Australian Public Service, along with case studies that may help your organisation
conceptualise some of its risk factors.
Tools

Two tools may help you apply the six-step risk management framework and
document the process for evidential purposes: the risk register and the risk impact
matrix. Additional tables are included to assist in determining likelihood and
severity of consequences.
Risk register

In order to identify your organisations susceptibility to risks, you need to anticipate


the possibility that your activities may not go according to plan or that your
decisions may have undesirable consequences. The risk register provides a useful
tool to identify, analyse and document potential risks.

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DIRKS manual Appendix 11 Risk analysis

Risk register
Risk

Likelihood
rating

Potential
impact

Adequacy of
existing risk
reduction
measures
and/or
controls

Consequences
rating

Level of risk
(calculated from
risk impact
matrix)

Priority
rating

[insert
identified
risk]
[insert
identified
risk]
[insert
identified
risk]
[insert
identified
risk]
[insert
identified
risk]

Risk impact matrix

After you have identified the risks associated with particular activities or decisions
and entered them in the risk register (above), you can use the risk impact matrix to
analyse the impact of the risks. Entering the likelihood, consequences and level of
risk into the risk register will enable you to assess their relative priority for
treatment.
Likelihood

Consequences
Extreme

Very high

Medium

Low

Negligible

Almost certain Severe

Severe

High

Major

Significant

Likely

Severe

High

Major

Significant

Moderate

Moderate

High

Major

Significant

Moderate

Low

Unlikely

Major

Significant

Moderate

Low

Trivial

Rare

Significant

Moderate

Low

Trivial

Trivial

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DIRKS manual Appendix 11 Risk analysis

Definition of risks:

severe risk must be managed by senior management with a detailed plan;

high risk detailed research and management planning required at senior


levels;

major risk senior management attention is needed;

significant risk management responsibility must be specified;

moderate risk manage by specific monitoring or response procedures;

low risk manage by routine procedures; and

trivial risk unlikely to need specific application of resources.

For example, if you anticipate that the likelihood of an event is moderate and that
its consequences to your organisation are negligible then the level of risk would be
deemed low.
Having analysed and assessed the risks, transfer your information to the risk
register (above).
A five-scale rating is used for likelihood. This is explained in Table 1.
Table 1: Qualitative measures of likelihood
Likelihood rating

Description

Rare

May occur only in exceptional circumstances.

Unlikely

Could occur at some time.

Possible

Might occur at some time.

Likely

Will probably occur in most circumstances.

Almost certain

Is expected to occur in most circumstances.

Table 2 provides statements and examples to help you assess the consequences of
risk.

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DIRKS manual Appendix 11 Risk analysis

Table 2: Description and rating of impact of adverse consequences


Description

Rating

Operational performance of the function/activity area would not be materially


affected.

Negligible

The organisation would not encounter any significant accountability implications.


The interests of stakeholders would not be affected.
Public perception of the organisation would remain intact.
Slight inconvenience/difficulty in operational performance of function/activity area.

Low

Some accountability implications for the function/activity area, but would not affect the
organisations ability to meet key reporting requirements.
Recovery from such consequences would be handled quickly without the need to
divert resources from core activity areas.
Some minor effects on ability of stakeholders to pursue rights and entitlements. For
example, other sources or avenues would be available to stakeholders.
Public perceptions of the organisation would alter slightly, but no significant damage
or disruption occurs.
Operational performance of organisation would be compromised to the extent that
revised planning would be required to overcome difficulties experienced by
function/activity area.

Medium

The organisation would experience difficulty in complying with key reporting


requirements, which would jeopardise some Commonwealth interests.
Recovery would be more gradual and require detailed corporate planning with
resources being diverted from core activity areas.
Stakeholders would experience considerable difficulty in pursuing rights and
entitlements.
Considerable adverse public reaction would result in some damage and disruption to
the organisation.

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DIRKS manual Appendix 11 Risk analysis

Operational performance of the functions/activity area would be severely affected with


the organisation unable to meet a major portion of its obligations and liabilities. The
organisations asset/resource base may be significantly depleted.

Very high

The organisation would not be able to comply with the majority of its reporting
requirements effectively.
Recovering from consequences would be highly complicated and time consuming.
Stakeholders would be unable to pursue their rights and entitlements.
Public reaction would result in major disruptions.
The organisation would be rendered dysfunctional.

Extreme

Operational performance would be compromised to the extent that the organisation is


unable to meet obligations and liabilities in core activity areas.
Severe accountability implications would result in the organisation being unable to
meet key reporting requirements.
The organisation would incur huge financial losses.
The organisation would be unable to recover from such consequences.
Stakeholders would face life-threatening consequences.
Major adverse repercussions would affect large sectors of the Commonwealth and its
clients, including the general public.

Conclusion

The adoption of risk management principles provides a means for improving


accountability in decision making. When applied to DIRKS, it will help your
organisation to make informed decisions about its recordkeeping requirements and
the most appropriate systems to satisfy these requirements. It will also ensure those
decisions are documented and available for scrutiny in the future.
Endnotes

[1] Management Advisory Boards Management Improvement Advisory


Committee (MAB/MIAC), Guidelines for Managing Risk in the Australian Public
Service, Report No. 22, Canberra, October 1996, p. 10.
[2] Australian and New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 43601999, Risk Management.
[3] In addition to the above references, see:

Australian Institute of Risk Management website

Emergency Management Australia website

Emergency Management Australia, Non-stop Service: Continuity Management


Guidelines for Public Sector Agencies, Canberra, 1997.

APPENDIX 12
RECORDKEEPING
FEASIBILITY
ANALYSIS
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Appendix 12 Feasibility analysis

APPENDIX 12
RECORDKEEPING FEASIBILITY ANALYSIS
Introduction

A feasibility analysis involves a detailed assessment of the need, value and


practicality of a proposed enterprise, such as systems development. The process of
designing and implementing recordkeeping systems has significant accountability
and resource implications for an organisation. Feasibility analysis will help you
make informed and transparent decisions at crucial points during the
developmental process as you determine whether it is operationally, economically
and technically realistic to proceed with a particular course of action.
The purpose of this section of the DIRKS manual is to raise awareness about
feasibility analysis in the context of your recordkeeping project. More extensive
information on the role of feasibility in systems development projects is available in
the references cited in the endnotes. [1]
DIRKS and the feasibility assessment process

Feasibility analysis can be used in each of the steps in the DIRKS methodology to
assess the financial, technical and operational capacity of your organisation to
proceed with particular activities. Steps A, C, E and F present particular feasibility
issues and warrant careful consideration to safeguard the outcome of your project.
Types of feasibility

A feasibility analysis usually involves a thorough assessment of the financial


(value), technical (practicality), and operational (need) aspects of a proposal. In
systems development projects, business managers are primarily responsible for
assessing the operational feasibility of the system, and information technology (IT)
analysts are responsible for assessing technical feasibility. Both then work together
to prepare a costbenefit analysis of the proposed system to determine its economic
feasibility.
Financial feasibility
A systems development project may be regarded as economically feasible or good
value to the organisation if its anticipated benefits outweigh its estimated costs.
However, many of the organisational benefits arising from recordkeeping projects
are intangible and may be hard to quantify. Examples of intangible benefits include:

improved compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements;

better management of evidence-related risks;

enhanced public image;

improved consistency, continuity, efficiency and productivity in program


delivery, management and administration; and

greater protection of the rights of employees, clients and citizens.


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In contrast, many development costs are easier to identify. These costs may include
the time, budget and staff resources invested during the design and implementation
phase, as well as infrastructure, support, training and maintenance costs incurred
after implementation. Nonetheless, it can also be difficult to accurately quantify
project costs when new technologies and complex systems are involved. In these
high-risk situations it may be appropriate to use sophisticated cost-benefit analysis
tools to make appropriate assessments of financial feasibility.
Technical feasibility
A systems development project may be regarded as technically feasible or practical if
the organisation has the necessary expertise and infrastructure to develop, install,
operate and maintain the proposed system. Organisations will need to make this
assessment based on:

knowledge of current and emerging technological solutions;

availability of technically qualified staff in-house for the duration of the


project and subsequent maintenance phase;

availability of infrastructure in-house to support the development and


maintenance of the proposed system;

where necessary, the financial and/or technical capacity to procure


appropriate infrastructure and expertise from outside;

capacity of the proposed system to accommodate increasing levels of use


over the medium term; and

the capacity of the proposed system to meet initial performance expectations


and accommodate new functionality over the medium term.

Operational feasibility
A systems development project is likely to be operationally feasible if it meets the
'needs' and expectations of the organisation. User acceptance is an important
determinant of operational feasibility. It requires careful consideration of:

corporate culture;

staff resistance or receptivity to change;

management support for the new system;

the nature and level of user involvement in the development and


implementation of the system;

direct and indirect impacts of the new system on work practices;

anticipated performance and outcomes of the new system compared with


the existing system;

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DIRKS manual Appendix 12 Feasibility analysis

viability of the proposed development and implementation schedule;

training requirements and other change management strategies; and

pay back periods (ie trade-off between long-term organisational benefits


and short-term inefficiencies during system development and
implementation).

Part 1, Section 7.2 Change management provides additional information on


managing and marketing change.
Additional factors

While financial, technical and operational criteria are important determinants of


feasibility, it may also be prudent to give special consideration to project schedules
and legal issues.
Project time frames should be examined as an aspect of operational feasibility. It is
important to make realistic estimates of the staff resources and time required to
complete different phases of the project, and to recognise that schedule delays may
occur due to unforeseen circumstances. The impact of such delays will vary
depending on the complexity of the recordkeeping project. Detailed scoping of the
project using critical path analysis will help minimise adverse effects. Obviously,
management should be alerted to any delays as these may affect both the viability of
the project and the organisation.
It is important for organisations to identify their legal and other regulatory
requirements to make and keep records, and to assess their capacity to meet these
requirements. A preliminary investigation of your organisation will provide a
general understanding of your obligations, while a more detailed investigation will
highlight your organisation's exposure to evidence-based risks (including legal
liability). These issues are elaborated in steps A and C of the DIRKS methodology.
In addition to these evidence-based issues, it is important to be aware of other legal
and regulatory matters that may affect systems development and project
implementation. These include:

the framework for procurement of goods and services in the Commonwealth


public sector;

general contractual obligations and liabilities; and

use of records management products and suppliers endorsed under the


Commonwealth Governments Shared Systems Suite (follow links to Shared
Systems on the Office for Government Online website.

Determining feasibility

A proposal may be regarded as feasible if it satisfies all of the three criteria:


financial, technical and operational.
Nevertheless, if a proposal fails to meet any one of the criteria it may still be deemed
feasible to proceed. For example, management may decide to implement a new
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DIRKS manual Appendix 12 Feasibility analysis

system to obtain long-term operational efficiencies even though the organisation


may experience short-term economic burdens. Alternatively, management may
accept that a project is not technically feasible at the present time, but it may be
appropriate to review the situation in the future. A project assessed as feasible at
one point may be subsequently rendered infeasible due to critical changes in
circumstances. It is therefore important for organisations to periodically monitor
and reassess the feasibility of particular enterprises.

Conclusion

Feasibility analysis provides a means of minimising risk and improving


accountability in decision-making. When applied to DIRKS, it will help your
organisation to make informed decisions about its recordkeeping requirements and
the most appropriate systems to satisfy these requirements. It will also ensure those
decisions are documented and available for scrutiny in the future.

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DIRKS manual Appendix 12 Feasibility analysis

Endnotes

[1] Most systems development texts provide advice on feasibility analysis. The
following list is a small sample.
Burch, J G, Systems Analysis, Design and Implementation, Boyd & Fraser, 1992.

Rob, P and Coronel, C, Database Systems: Design, Implementation and


Management, 2nd edition, Boyd & Fraser, 1995.

Shelly, G B, Cashman, T J Adamski, J and Adamski, J J, Systems Analysis and


Design, Boyd & Fraser, 1991.

Whitten, J L, Bentley, L D and Barlow, V M, Systems Analysis and Design


Methods, Irwin, 1994.

APPENDIX 15
GUIDELINES FOR
USING SELECTED
GENERIC ACTIVITIES
FROM KEYWORD AAA
IN AGENCY BUSINESS
CLASSIFICATION
SCHEMES
APRIL 2005

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2005
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
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only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

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DIRKS manual Appendix 15 Generic activities

Appendix 15 Guidelines for using selected generic


activities from Keyword AAA in agency business
classification schemes
Introduction
Activities from Keyword AAA: A Thesaurus of General Terms can be used as activities
within an agency core function in a business classification scheme so long as the
scope note attached to the activity in Keyword AAA is applicable to the conduct of
that activity within the core function.
This guide has been developed to assist agencies in developing transaction sets for
Keyword AAA activities during the DIRKS Step B process.
Transaction sets and For references have been drawn up for 12 Keyword AAA
activities commonly used within core functions.
The examples of transaction sets can be used as a basis for developing agency
specific transaction sets. The possible For references provided demonstrate how
they can assist in clarifying the scope of certain activities and also provide linkages
between activities within a function.
The transaction sets and For references do not take into account the specific
requirements of individual agencies and should be used as a guide only. Agencies
are encouraged to analyse the unique context in which generic activities are
performed, developing more detailed, agency-specific documentation.

Generic Keyword AAA activities included in these guidelines


Page
1.

ADDRESSES (PRESENTATIONS)

2.

ADVICE

3.

AGREEMENTS

4.

COMMITTEES

5.

CONFERENCES

6.

CONTRACTING-OUT

7.

MEETINGS

8.

PLANNING

10

9.

POLICY

11

10.

PROCEDURES

12

11.

REPORTING

13

12.

TENDERING

14

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DIRKS manual Appendix 15 Generic activities

Notes on using the examples of transaction sets

The lists of transactions should be used as a guide only.

The lists are not exhaustive and, as not all transactions will apply in every
instance, extraneous transactions should be excluded.

You should add or amend transactions where specific steps are undertaken
by the agency that are not included in these sets.

Where established procedures for carrying out an activity within the relevant
function exist they should be reflected in the transaction sets for this activity.

If, in addition to how the activity is performed generally within the function,
the activity is performed differently for specific purposes, this should be
reflected by the inclusion of separate transaction sets. Examples of this are
included for some activities.

Checklist on how to use these guidelines


1.

Identify the need for a generic activity from Keyword AAA to be used
within a core function (Step B Analysis of business activity).

2.

Look up the Generic Keyword AAA activities included in these guidelines


on page 1 to check if the activity you need is covered.

3.

If it is, read the introduction of the guidelines to find out how to use
them.

4.

Look at the examples of transactions provided for the activity


identified.

5.

Undertake your own analysis of how the activity is conducted in your


organisation. To do this you can refer to internal procedures, conduct
interviews with staff that carry out the activity and observe the
activity as it is occurring in the workplace.

6.

Use your analysis of the activity to modify the examples of


transactions provided so that the analysis reflects the way your
organisation conducts the activity.

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ADDRESSES (PRESENTATIONS)
The activity of giving addresses for training, professional, community relations or
sales purposes. Includes speeches and multi-media presentations.

Transactions

Receive request to give an address/presentation or identify event at which


address is to be given

Accept/not accept invitations

Decide on topic for address/presentation

Undertake research for address/presentation

Prepare a draft address/presentation

If necessary, circulate for comment/discussion/editing

Review and amend the draft

Obtain clearance/approval

Prepare final copy of address/presentation

Prepare presentation aids (eg. PowerPoint, slides, overheads, web version)

Provide speaker with address/presentation materials (if previous steps


undertaken by person not giving address/presentation)

Rehearse/prepare address/presentation

Give the address/presentation

If requested, provide copy of address/presentation to event organiser (before


or after)

Presenting a paper at any conference

Write a synopsis or proposal

Research and write paper

Prepare any presentation aids needed

Prepare final copy of paper

Rehearse/prepare presentation

Make arrangements with conference organisers for presentation requirements

Give the address/presentation

Provide final copy to conference organisers for inclusion in proceedings

Possible For references


For the preparation of training material for internal staff, use STAFF DEVELOPMENT
Training
For addresses presented at government occasions, use GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
Addresses (presentations)

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ADVICE
The activities associated with offering opinions by or to the organisation as to an
action or judgement. Includes the process of advising.

Transactions
Advice provided by the agency, includes advice provided to both internal and
external clients

Receive request for advice or identify need for provision of advice to external
organisation or another area within the agency

Establish whether sufficient information has been provided by the requestor

If necessary, request additional information/clarification

Carry out research/consultations regarding the issue

Draft the advice

If required, seek comment on draft

Prepare final version of advice

If required, seek authorisation from appropriate authority

Send advice

Advice received by the agency

Identify need for advice from external organisation

Issue request for advice

Clarify advice needs as required

Receive notification of advice

Consider/act upon advice

Verbal advice may involve a different set of transactions, for example

Receive request for advice or identify need for provision of advice

If necessary, seek further information about the request

Establish what advice should be provided

Undertake research/gather information

If required, confirm with superior officer

Provide advice

Document the advice provided, eg Note for file

Possible For references


For formal submissions made by the agency, use [FUNCTION] Submissions
For responses to routine enquiries, use [FUNCTION] Enquiries
For distribution of promotional material, use [FUNCTION] Marketing

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AGREEMENTS
The processes associated with the establishment, maintenance, review and
negotiation of agreements.
Agreements may include certain types of contracts (not resulting from a tender
process) and memoranda of understanding (MOU).

Transactions

Identify the need to establish a new agreement, receive a request to establish


an agreement or identify the need for a review of an existing agreement

Undertake negotiations for the drawing up of the agreement

Establish lines of communication between all parties

Investigate options and set up terms of reference

Seek legal support as required

Draw up draft agreement

Consult internal and external stakeholders on agreement as required

Amend agreement as needed

Draft approved by all parties (or is circulated again)

Create instrument of agreement

If necessary, cancel any previous agreement

Sign instrument of agreement

Distribute copies of agreement

Possible For references


For contracts or agreements resulting from a tendering process, use [FUNCTION]
Tendering
For management of contracts, use [FUNCTION] Contracting-out
For establishment and maintenance of leases, use [FUNCTION] Leasing or Leasing-out

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COMMITTEES
The activities associated with the management of committees and task forces.
Includes the committees establishment, appointment of members, terms of
reference, proceedings, minutes, reports, agenda etc.
This activity is designed to cover all possible committees including local, state,
national, and international committees.

Transactions
Where the agency provides secretariat for the committee

Establish Terms of Reference for a Committee including establishing


particular task or purpose of the Committee

Appoint Chairperson and members to the Committee

Determine time and venue of meeting

Book meeting room

Write agenda

Circulate agenda and minutes of previous meeting as well as agenda papers


and other reference material as required

Record minutes of meeting and apologies

Circulate draft minutes for corrections and modifications

Direct action to be carried out as a result of decisions made at meeting

Develop briefing papers or reports

Dissolve committee if no longer required

Endorse minutes at next meeting (or by email if no subsequent meeting)

Circulate final minutes

Where the agency does not provide secretariat for the committee

Receive agenda/notice of committee meeting

Provide briefings

Attend meetings

Receive draft minutes

Prepare reports on meetings

Possible For references


For records of meetings, other than committee meetings, use [FUNCTION] Meetings

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CONFERENCES
The activities involved in arranging or attending conferences held either by the
organisation or by other organisations. Includes registrations, publicity and reports
of participants etc.
This activity is designed to cover all possible conferences including local, state,
national, international, private industry, Commonwealth sponsored etc.

Transactions
Conference arranged by the agency

Select conference organisers

Determine time and place of conference

Decide on theme and prepare draft program

Determine budget for conference

Call for speakers or send invitations to potential speakers

Notify successful speakers

Arrange venue, catering, accommodation and security

Design brochures and signage

Prepare final program

Arrange for publicity

Send out conference brochures

Register participants

Arrange staff to assist with on site conference arrangements

Compile conference proceedings

Hold conference

Prepare report on management and conduct of conference for future use

Conference conducted by another organisation

Decide on agency attendance and select representatives or seek approval to


attend conference

Complete and return conference registration form

Organise travel to/from conference

Attend conference

If required, write a report on conference

Possible For references


For administration of travel arrangements for staff members attending conferences, use
PERSONNEL Arrangements
For printing proceedings, brochures, conference proceedings etc, use PUBLICATION
Production
9

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For payment of conference registration fees and payments to service providers, eg caterers,
use FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT Payments
For papers presented by staff at conferences, use [FUNCTION] Addresses (Presentations)

10

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CONTRACTING-OUT
The activities involved in managing the performance of work or the provision of
goods and services by an external contractor, vendor or consultant, or by using
external bureau services. Includes outsourcing.
Functions that include the Contracting-out activity will normally also include the
Tendering activity as contracts most often result from the tender process. Some types
of contract may result from the Agreements activity. In these instances the function
should include both the Contracting-Out and Agreements activities. In both cases the
creation of the actual contract (ie negotiation and signing) falls within the scope of
either Tendering or Agreements, not within Contracting-Out.

Transactions

Prepare a management plan for the transition of work to the successful


provider (this includes management of cultural changes that may be required
within the agency)

Develop a complaint/dispute handling mechanism for managing contracts

Develop contingency plans (succession plan) for instances where the contract
is terminated so there is a smooth transition to a new provider

Monitor the performance of the contract taking into account any milestones

Hold stakeholder meetings

Secure any reports specified to support milestones

Ensure appropriate recordkeeping is undertaken by contractors to maintain


the agencys accountability for management of the contract

On completion of each milestone and on completion of the contract certify


that the services have been performed and are satisfactory, and costs are
correct

Take action where performance is not satisfactory

Submit the invoice for payment where performance is satisfactory

Produce an evaluation report on the contractors performance

Possible For references


For payment of invoices, use FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT Payments
For selection of contractor to provide goods or services using a tender process, use
[FUNCTION] Tendering
For drawing up contract and signing of contract resulting from tender process, use
[FUNCTION] Tendering
For selection of a provider of goods and services where no tender process was undertaken, use
[FUNCTION] Acquisition or [FUNCTION] Agreements

11

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MEETINGS
The activities associated with ad hoc gatherings held to formulate, discuss, update,
or resolve issues and matters pertaining to the management of the section,
department or organisation as a whole. Includes arrangements, agenda, taking of
minutes etc. Excludes committee meetings.
This activity is designed to cover all possible meetings that are ad hoc and relate to
the management of the section, department or agency in regards to the function.
This may include meetings with external agencies, local, state, national or
international government bodies or individuals.

Transactions

Determine time and venue of meeting

Book meeting room

Arrange catering, equipment and other requirements

Notify interested persons of meeting details

Write agenda

Circulate agenda, agenda papers and minutes of previous meeting

Record minutes of meeting and apologies

Circulate draft minutes for corrections and modifications

Amend minutes if required

Direct actions to be carried out as a result of decisions made at meeting

Endorse minutes at next meeting (or by email if no subsequent meeting)

Circulate final minutes

Possible For references


For committee meetings, use [FUNCTION] Committees

12

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PLANNING
The process of formulating ways in which objectives can be achieved. Includes
determination of services, needs and solutions to those needs.
If the agency distinguishes functional level planning from strategic planning this
must be reflected by the inclusion of this activity within the relevant core functions.
If all planning is considered strategic planning within the agency and the scope notes
for the function-activity pair STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT Planning (from AFDA)
adequately cover all planning activities it is not necessary to include the activity
within core functions. You will need to be able to demonstrate that the functionactivity pair STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT Planning adequately covers all
planning activities.

Transactions

Identify and prioritise objectives to be achieved in the planning process

Analyse/assess the current situation (eg identify strengths, weaknesses,


opportunities, threats)

Seek reports to support or inform analysis

Convene working groups or establish other means of collecting ideas and


information

Develop and evaluate various strategies for achieving the objectives

Examine resources available

Decide on a strategy to meet the objective

Develop a draft plan

Circulate draft plan to stakeholders

Adopt changes suggested by stakeholders if appropriate

Submit draft for approval to appropriate authority

Approve final plan

Release/distribute plan as appropriate

Possible For references


For overall agency planning to achieve corporate objectives, use STRATEGIC
MANAGEMENT Planning
For requests to seek funds for planning goals, use FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
Budgeting

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POLICY
The activities associated with developing and establishing decisions, directions and
precedents, which act as a reference for future decision making, as the basis from
which the agencys operating procedures are determined.

Transactions
Policies developed by the agency

Identify requirement for policy

Develop project plan for the development of the policy

Allocate resources to produce the policy

Undertake research on the issue

Undertake consultative process

Analyse stakeholder needs

Develop options

Produce a draft policy document

Seek comments on draft from interested parties

Review draft policy taking into account comments received

Produce an amended policy document(s)

Submit policy document to relevant agency authority for approval

Final decision/ratification of policy recommendations

Distribute and promulgate approved policy

Contribution to government-wide policy proposals

Receive request for comments on government-wide policy

Allocate officer to compile comments

Undertake research on the issues

Consult relevant internal stakeholders

Produce draft response

Submit to Senior Officer for comment

Amend draft incorporating Senior Officer comments

Produce final copy and covering letter to requesting agency

Letter signed by Senior Officer and sent to requesting agency

Possible For references


For review of policy, use [FUNCTION] Reviewing
For publication of policies, use PUBLICATION Production
For the development of procedures to implement policy, use [FUNCTION] Procedures

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PROCEDURES
Standard methods of operating laid down by an organisation according to
formulated policy.

Transactions

Identify need for new or revised/updated procedures

Define the parameters for the proposed procedures (eg scope, jurisdiction)

Define the expected outcome of the procedures

Produce a project plan for developing the procedures

Seek relevant information on statutory requirements, policies, standards,


professional codes of practices and guidelines

Analyse work area and examine existing processes

Seek staff input

Seek other stakeholder input

Develop draft internal procedure manuals and other documentation

Circulate draft for comment

Receive responses

Update draft

Trial procedures

Refine procedures as a result of the trials

Produce final document

Have final document ratified by appropriate authority

Distribute and promulgate procedures

Possible For references


For the policy on which the procedures is based, use [FUNCTION] Policy

15

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REPORTING
The processes associated with initiating or providing a formal response to a situation
or request (either internal, external or as a requirement of corporate policies), and to
provide formal statements or findings of the results of the examination or
investigation. Includes agenda, briefing, business, discussion papers, proposals,
reports, reviews and returns.
This activity descriptor should only be used for formal or periodic reporting against
corporate or business plans, work plans and corporate policies. This activity should
not be used for day-to-day reporting of business activities.

Transactions
Compiling formal reports

Receive request for report or identify requirement for report

Allocate responsibility for production of report

Consider the aim of the report

Plan the investigational approach (how to gather material, what work needs
to be done)

Gather material (including surveys and statistical returns)

Consult with relevant parties for additional information

Organise material

Analyse material

Decide on conclusion

Decide on recommendations

Develop a writing plan

Write the draft

Seek comments

Edit the draft and prepare a final copy

Issue or distribute final copy

Carrying out periodical internal reporting

Receive request for report or reach time for a report to be generated

Identify type of data/information required to fulfil reporting obligations

Plan how to collect/gather data/information

Collect data/information

Analyse data/information

Formulate your response

Write the report

Issue or distribute final copy

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Possible For references


For reports that are the outcome of a business process, use [FUNCTION] (relevant activity)
eg, for reporting on an inspection of a building, use [FUNCTION] Inspections

17

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TENDERING
The activities involved in receiving and assessing tenders, of making offers and
finalising contract arrangements for the supply, sale or purchase of goods and
services.

Transactions

Identify the need for goods or services

Determine required outcomes and expected performance levels

Prepare an estimate of the total costs of the requirement

Obtain approvals from the appropriate authority to spend money

Obtain approvals from the appropriate authority to start tender arrangements


and enter into a contract

Draw up a Statement of Requirements (SOR), which will form part of the


tender documents

Prepare other tender documents Request for Proposal; Expression of


Interest and Request for Tender (RFT)

Issue draft tender documents for industry and client comment (optional)

Decide on the form and type of contract (eg standing offer; period; fixed;
lump sum; performance-based; cost plus performance etc)

Select tender strategy (eg open, one-staged or multi-staged)

When strategy decided upon develop and release the final RFT
documentation

Gazette business opportunity on the AusTender website

Advertise tender following nominated strategy

Receive tender bids

Evaluate tender bids

Carry out post-offer negotiations and diligence checks

If no suitable bid is received make a decision whether to halt the process

Prepare formal recommendation

Obtain approval from the appropriate authority for selection of successful


tender

Advise bidders of outcome

Provide a debriefing to unsuccessful bidders

Negotiate final contract details

Gazette details of the contract if over $10,000

Sign contract/agreement

Exchange signed contracts

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Possible For references


For management of contracts, including renegotiation of existing contracts, use
[FUNCTION] Contracting-out
For selection of a provider of goods and services where no tender process was undertaken, use
[FUNCTION] Acquisition or [FUNCTION] Agreements

19

GLOSSARY
September 2001

September 2001

ISBN 0 642 34449 3


Commonwealth of Australia 2001
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any
process without prior written permission from the National Archives of Australia. Requests and inquiries concerning
reproduction and rights should be directed to the Publications Manager, National Archives of Australia,
PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT, 2610.
Privacy statement Collection of personal information from email
The National Archives of Australia will only record your email address if you send us a message. The address will be used
only for the purpose for which you have provided it. We will not use your email address for any other purpose and will not
disclose it without your consent.

National Archives of Australia

DIRKS manual Glossary

GLOSSARY
This glossary accompanies DIRKS A Strategic Approach to Managing Business
Information (DIRKS manual). It is not intended to be comprehensive or function as a
general records management glossary. The source of some terms is cited and full
bibliographic details are provided at the end of the document.
Access

Right, opportunity, means of finding, using, or retrieving information


International Standard ISO15489-2001, Records Management, Part 1, Section 3 Terms
and Definitions, Clause 3.1.
Accountability

The principle that individuals, organisations and the community are required to
account to others for their actions. Organisations and their employees must be able
to account to appropriate regulatory authorities, to shareholders or members, and to
the public to meet statutory obligations, audit requirements, relevant standards and
codes of practice, and community expectations.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause 4.1.
Accurate (see Full and accurate records)
Activity

Activities are the major tasks performed by the organisation to accomplish each of its
functions. Several activities may be associated with each function.
An activity is identified by the name it is given and its scope (or definition). The
scope of the activity encompasses all the transactions that take place in relation to it.
Depending on the nature of the transactions involved, an activity may be performed
in relation to one function, or it may be performed in relation to many functions.
Adequate

Records should be adequate for the purposes for which they are kept. Thus, a major
initiative will be extensively documented, while a routine administrative action can
be documented with an identifiable minimum of information. There should be
adequate evidence of the conduct of business activity to be able to account for that
conduct. See also Full and accurate records.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause 4.2.
Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA)

The Administrative Functions Disposal Authority was released in March 2000 by


the National Archives and relates to common administrative functions performed
by most Commonwealth agencies. The structure of the Authority is based on the

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business classification scheme of the Keyword AAA: Thesaurus of General Terms


Commonwealth Version. See Disposal authorities.
Ambient functions

High-level functions that define and provide context and meaning to the activities
of records creators in any domain other than the native organisation or
recordkeeping system of the records creator.
Appraisal

The process of evaluating business activities to determine which records need to be


captured and how long the records need to be kept to meet business needs, the
requirements of organisational accountability and community expectations.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause 4.3.
Authentic (see Full and accurate records)
Business activity

An umbrella term covering all the functions, processes, activities and transactions of
an organisation and its employees. It includes public administration as well as
commercial business. Note: This term is distinguished from Activity which is used
to denote a specific activity carried out within the scope of each of the functions
carried out by one organisation.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause 4.6.
Business classification scheme

An articulation of the functions and activities of the organisation derived from the
analysis of business activity. The business classification scheme contains terms and
scope notes that represent and describe functions, activities, transactions or other
elements, and shows their relationships. The number of levels within the scheme
can vary depending on the level of refinement required and how the scheme will be
used. The structure of the scheme is hierarchical, moving from the general to the
specific. Each function has activities that are identified in relation to it, and each
activity (linked to the function) has categories of transactions that are encountered.
Business system

A system designed to enable the realisation of desired business outcomes and


outputs through the efficient management and facilitation of interrelated business
processes.
Capture

A deliberate action which results in the registration of a record into a recordkeeping


system. For certain business activities, this action may be designed into electronic
systems so that the capture of records is concurrent with the creation of records.

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Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause 4.7.


Classification

The process of devising and applying schemes based on the business activities that
generate records, whereby they are categorised in systematic and consistent ways to
facilitate their capture, retrieval, maintenance and disposal. Classification includes
determining document or file naming conventions, user permissions and security
restrictions on records.
The term classification is distinguished from National Security Classification which
is the system for identifying and protecting information that may damage national
security or national interest if it were disclosed to the general public.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause 4.8.
A fundamental component of the intellectual control processes in a recordkeeping
system is the use of a scheme for classifying records. The classification of a record is
an essential element of the metadata that describes that record. This in turn enables
the record to be managed, understood, linked to other related records and retrieved
by users. Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, requires records
classification schemes to be based on a rigorous classification of business activities.
This means that records are classified on the basis of why they exist (their function
or the activity that caused the record to be brought into existence), rather than on
the basis of what they are about (their subject). As such, the focus of classification is
the context of a records creation and use, rather than the content of the record itself.
National Archives of Australia, Control, 2000, published online at
http://www.naa.gov.au/recordkeeping/control/summary.html
Complete (see Full and accurate records)
Compliance

Ensuring that the requirements of laws, regulations, industry codes and


organisational standards are met.
Australian Standard, AS 38061998, Compliance Programs.
Compliance program

Compliance programs aim to prevent, and where necessary, identify and respond
to, breaches of laws, regulations, codes or organisational standards occurring in the
organisation. They should promote a culture of compliance within the organisation.
Australian Standard, AS 38061998, Compliance Programs.

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Compliant (see Full and accurate records)


Comprehensive (see Full and accurate records)
Control

Control systems and processes associated with records management include:

registration, which provides evidence of the existence of records in a


recordkeeping system;

classification, which allows for appropriate grouping, naming, security


protection, user permissions and retrieval;

indexing, which allocates attributes or codes to particular records to assist in


their retrieval; and

tracking, which provides evidence of where a record is located, what action


is outstanding on a record, who has seen a record, when such access took
place and the recordkeeping transactions that have been undertaken on the
record.

Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 4: Control, Clause 1.


Controlled vocabulary

An alphabetical list containing terms or headings which are authorised or controlled


so that only one heading or form of heading is allowed to represent a particular
concept or name. It contrasts with natural language. A controlled vocabulary is also
referred to as a thesaurus.
J Kennedy and C Schauder, Records Management, p. 291.
Conversion

Conversion is the process of changing from an existing system to a new one.


Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 3: Strategies,
Appendix B, Clause B1.
Create

The act of making a record of a document or information originating in or received


by an organisation.
State Records Authority of NSW, Government Recordkeeping Manual, Glossary.

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Disaster plan

A written procedure setting out the measures to be taken to minimise the risks and
effects of disasters such as fire, flood or earthquake etc, and to recover, save and
secure the vital records should such a disaster occur.
J Ellis (ed.), Keeping Archives, p. 467.
Disposal

A range of processes associated with implementing appraisal decisions. These


include the retention, deletion or destruction of records in or from recordkeeping
systems. They may also include the migration or transmission of records between
recordkeeping systems, and the transfer of custody or ownership of records.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause 4.9.
Disposal authority

A legal document issued by the National Archives of Australia to authorise the


disposal of Commonwealth records. It specifies classes of records and the minimum
length of time they should be kept. Records disposal authorities (RDAs) apply to the
records of a single organisation, while general disposal authorities (GDAs), such as
the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA), normally apply to all
Commonwealth agencies.
Disposal classes

Classes of records performing or recording similar activities and therefore having


the same retention period and disposal action.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause
4.11.
Entity/entities

The component parts of business activity referred to in descending order as an


organisation's functions, activities and transactions.
Evidence

Information that tends to prove a fact. Not limited to the legal sense of the term.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause
4.14.
Full and accurate records

Full and accurate records must be:

compliant complying with the recordkeeping requirements arising from


the regulatory and accountability environment in which the organisation
operates;
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adequate for the purposes for which they are kept;

complete containing not only the content, but also the structural and
contextual information necessary to document a transaction;

meaningful containing information and/or linkages that ensure the


business context in which the record was created and used is apparent;

comprehensive documenting the complete range of the organisation's


business for which evidence is required;

accurate reflecting accurately the transactions that they document;

authentic enabling proof that they are what they purport to be and that
their purported creators did indeed create them; and

inviolate securely maintained to prevent unauthorised access, alteration or


removal.

Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 3: Strategies, Clause


5.3.
Function

The largest unit of business activity in an organisation or jurisdiction. Functions


represent the major responsibilities that are managed by the organisation to fulfil its
goals. Functions are high-level aggregates of the organisation's activities.
A discrete area of operational or housekeeping responsibility administered by an
organisation over a period. A function may be, or derive from, a substantive
function of the organisation (eg allocated through the Administrative Arrangements
Orders), or it may be a construct of the organisation's management to achieve the
organisation's goals.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause 4.15
Functional appraisal (see Appraisal)
Functional records

Records created by an agency to help carry out its unique business role. The
functions and their associated records are specific to the agency, as opposed to
housekeeping records that document functions common to all agencies. Also
referred to as operational or unique records.
Functional records disposal schedule

A disposal schedule covering an agency's functional records.


State Records Authority of NSW, Government Recordkeeping Manual, Glossary.

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Functions thesaurus

A keyword thesaurus, produced and maintained by an agency (which has


implemented the Keyword Classification System) and which contains keywords,
descriptors and forbidden terms. The thesaurus covers terms of a functional nature
relating specifically to an organisations specific functions, to provide
comprehensive controlled vocabulary to describe paper and electronic records and
recordkeeping systems. A thesaurus that reflects the unique functions of an agency.
State Records Authority of NSW, Government Recordkeeping Manual, Glossary.
Identified requirements

A comprehensive list of implicit and explicit recordkeeping requirements, identified


from documentary and oral sources in DIRKS Step C, that an organisation may
potentially decide to meet. An organisation must subject these identified
requirements to risk-based assessment to prioritise a subset that the organisation
will meet. See also Prioritised requirements and Recordkeeping requirements.
Information

Knowledge communicated or received concerning some fact or circumstance.


The Macquarie Dictionary, 3rd edition, 1997, p. 1095.
Information systems

Organised collections of hardware, software, supplies, policies, procedures and


people, which store, process and provide access to information.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause
4.17.
Intellectual control

The control established over the informational content of records and archives
resulting from ascertaining and documenting their provenance, and from the
processes of arrangement and description.
J Ellis (ed.), Keeping Archives, p. 472.
Inviolate (see Full and accurate records)
Maintain

Retaining records in identifiable recordkeeping systems over time in accordance


with appraisal decisions. Records that are required to be maintained should remain
accessible, their integrity should be protected and, where necessary, they should
meet the conditions or requirements identified in order to satisfy business needs,
organisational accountability and community expectations. This may include
migrating records across successive systems and other preservation strategies.

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Meaningful (see Full and accurate records)


Merged thesaurus

A merged keyword thesaurus is a single alphabetical list of both general and


functional terms, which is used to classify records according to the Keyword
Classification System. See also Thesaurus.
State Records Authority of NSW, Government Recordkeeping Manual, Glossary.
Metadata

Structured information that describes and/or allows us to find, manage, control,


understand or preserve other information over time.
A Cunningham, Recent developments in standards for archival description and metadata,
p. 19.
See also Recordkeeping metadata
Modelling

The act of creating a simplified abstract representation of a system for the purpose
of describing, understanding and/or analysing that system.
Open systems

Systems (usually operating systems) that are not tied to a particular computer
system or hardware manufacturer. An example is the UNIX operating system, with
versions available for a wide variety of hardware platforms.
W Martin et al., Managing Information Technology, p. 692.
Preservation

The range of activities associated with maintaining archival materials in a useable


state, either in their original physical form or in some other useable way.
Preservation encompasses a wide range of areas from storage materials and
conditions, to handling issues, to the unique problems associated with the
preservation of electronic records. Intensive hands on conservation, the function
most associated with preservation, is really only a small part of the picture.
National Archives of Australia, Preservation, 2000, published online at
http://www.naa.gov.au/recordkeeping/preservation/summary.html
Prioritised requirements

The subset of implicit and explicit recordkeeping requirements identified from


sources in DIRKS Step C that an organisation prioritises as essential to meet, after it
has undertaken a risk-based assessment. See also Identified requirements and
Recordkeeping requirements.

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Recordkeeping

Making and maintaining complete, accurate and reliable evidence of business


transactions in the form of recorded information. Recordkeeping includes the
following:

the creation of records in the course of business activity and the means to
ensure the creation of adequate records;

the design, establishment and operation of recordkeeping systems; and

the management of records used in business (traditionally regarded as the


domain of records management) and as archives (traditionally regarded as
the domain of archives administration).

Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause


4.19; Part 3: Strategies, Foreword.
Recordkeeping metadata

Structured or semi-structured information which enables the creation, management


and use of records through time and across domains. Recordkeeping metadata can
identify, authenticate and contextualise records and the people, processes and
systems that create, manage and use them.
A Cunningham, Recent developments in standards for archival description and metadata,
pp.1920.
See also Metadata
Recordkeeping requirements

Identified needs for evidence arising from various internal and/or external sources
that may be satisfied through appropriate recordkeeping action (such as creation,
capture, maintenance, preservation and access). The sources include legislative and
other regulatory sources, industry codes of best practice, broader government
interests, external clients or stakeholders and the general public. An umbrella term
that covers Identified requirements and Prioritised requirements.
Recordkeeping systems

Recordkeeping systems contain information which is linked to activities that they


document. Their purpose is to capture, maintain and provide access to evidence
over time, as required by the jurisdiction in which they are implemented and I
accordance with common business practices. Recordkeeping systems include:
1. both records practitioners and records users;
2. a set of authorised polices, assigned responsibilities, delegations of authority,
procedures and practices; policy statements, procedures manuals, user
guidelines and other documents which are used to authorise and promulgate
the policies, procedures and practices;

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3. the records themselves


4. specialised information and records systems used to control the records; and
5. software, hardware and other equipment, and stationery.
Recordkeeping systems may be distinguished from other types of information
systems by the fact that they are organised to accomplish the specific functions of
creating, storing and accessing records for evidential purposes.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 3: Strategies, Clause
6.21; David Bearman, Electronic evidence, p. 36.
See also Records system
Records

Information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an


organisation or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of
business.
Recorded information, in any form, including data in computer systems, created or
received and maintained by an organisation or person in the transaction of business
or the conduct of affairs and kept as evidence of such activity.
International Standard ISO 15489, Records Management, Part 3 Terms and
Definitions, Clause 3.15; Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management,
Part 1: General, Clause 4.21.
Records continuum

The whole extent of a record's existence. Refers to a consistent and coherent regime
of management processes from the time of the creation of records (and before
creation, in the design of recordkeeping systems), through to the preservation and
use of records as archives.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause
4.22.
Records management

Field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the
creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes
for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities
and transactions in the form of records.
The discipline and organisational function of managing records to meet operational
business needs, accountability requirements and community expectations.
International Standard ISO 15489, Records Management, Part 3 Terms and
Definitions, Clause 3.16; Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management,
Part 1: General, Clause 4.23.

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Records system

Information systems which capture, manage and provide access to records through
time.
International Standard ISO 15489, Records Management, Part 3 Terms and
Definitions, Clause 3.17.
See also Recordkeeping system.
Registration

The act of giving a record a unique identity in a recordkeeping system. The purpose
of registration is to provide evidence that a record has been created or captured in a
recordkeeping system. It involves recording brief descriptive information about the
record in a register and assigning the record a unique identifier. Registration should
link the record to descriptive information about the context of the record and to
other related records.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause
4.24, Part 1: General, Clause 7.2.
Risk

The chance of something happening that will have an impact upon objectives. It is
measured in terms of consequences and likelihood.
Australian and New Zealand Standard, AS/NZS 43601999, Risk Management.
Sentencing

The process of identifying the disposal class a record belongs to and applying the
disposal action specified in the relevant disposal authority to the record.
Sentencing is the implementation of decisions made during appraisal.
Stakeholder

Those people and organisations who may affect, be affected by, or perceive
themselves to be affected by, a decision or activity. The term stakeholder may also
include interested parties.
Australian and New Zealand Standard, AS/NZS 43601999, Risk Management.
Standards

Records management and recordkeeping standards are authoritative standards to


which an organisation is subject or which it chooses to adopt. Standards provide
benchmarks for measuring performance and describe best practices in any or all
aspects of recordkeeping. Thus standards may function to specify minimum
performance levels or describe best practice.
State Records Authority of NSW, Government Recordkeeping Manual, Glossary.

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System

A set of interrelated components that work together to achieve some common


purpose.
W Martin et al., Managing Information Technology, p. 696.
Systems analysis and design

The process used to develop a system. The systems development life cycle is the
traditional methodology used by information system professionals to develop a
new computer application. It includes three general phases: definition, construction
and implementation. The methodology defines the activities necessary for these
three phases, as well as a framework for planning and managing a development
project. Operations and maintenance are included in the implementation phase.
W Martin et al., Managing Information Technology, p. 696.
Thesaurus

A thesaurus is a complex alphabetical listing of all terms derived from a


classification scheme. Such tools act as a guide in the allocation of classification
terms to individual records. In a thesaurus the meaning of the term is specified and
hierarchical relationships to other terms are shown. A thesaurus should provide
sufficient entry points to allow users to navigate from terms which are not to be
used to the preferred terminology adopted by the organisation. See Merged
thesaurus.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 4: Control, Clause
7.3.2.2.
Transaction

The smallest unit of business activity.


A transaction should be activity-based rather than subject- or topic-based. A
transaction provides the basis for identifying, in detail, the records that meet the
business needs of the organisation. Depending on the complexity of an
organisation's business activities, it may be necessary to group transactions on the
basis of their similarities or to further dissect this level to obtain an appropriate
degree of specificity for the organisations recordkeeping purposes.
A particular instance in the performance of an activity. In some cases, the term
transaction is used to cover a class of transactions that occur in the performance of
an activity.
Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management, Part 1: General, Clause
4.27.

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Vital records

Those records without which an organisation could not continue to operate, that is,
those containing information needed to re-establish the organisation in the event of
a disaster. Vital records are those which protect the assets and interests of the
organisation as well as those of its clients and shareholders.
J Kennedy and C Schauder, Records Management, p. 302.

Sources

Australian and New Zealand Standard, AS/NZS 43601999, Risk Management .


Bearman, David, Electronic Evidence: Strategies for Managing Records in Contemporary
Organizations, Archives and Museum Informatics, Pittsburgh, 1994.
Cunningham, Adrian, Recent developments in standards for archival description
and metadata, IASA Journal, no. 16, 2000, pp. 1424.
Ellis, Judith (ed.), Keeping Archives, 2 nd ed., DW Thorpe in association with the
Australian Society of Archivists, Port Melbourne, 1993.
International Standards Organization, International Standard ISO 15489, Information
and Documentation - Records Management, Geneva, 2001.
Kennedy, Jay and Schauder, Cherryl, Records Management: A Guide to Corporate
Recordkeeping, Longman Chesire, South Melbourne, 1998.
Macquarie Dictionary, 3rd edition, Macquarie University, Sydney, 1997.
Martin, W, Brown, C, DeHayes, D, Hoffer, J and Perkins, W, Managing Information
Technology: What Managers Need to Know, Englewood Cliffs, Prentice Hall, NJ, 1999.
National Archives of Australia website, http://www.naa.gov.au/recordkeeping/,
2001
Standards Australia, Australian Standard AS 38061998, Compliance Programs.
Standards Australia, Australian Standard AS 43901996, Records Management.
State Records Authority of New South Wales, Government Recordkeeping Manual,
1999 available online at
http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/publicsector/rk/manual.htm

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