Glossary of Records Retention and Information Management Terminology
An ongoing compilation of Records and informtion management terminology
Access – the right, opportunity, means of finding, using or retrieving information. International Standard ISO/TR15489, Clause 3.1
Accountability – The principle that individuals, organization and the community are responsible for their actions and may be required to explain them to others. International Standard ISO/TR15489, Clause 3.2
Active Record – Records in frequent use, regardless of their date of creation, required for current business relating to the administration or function of the organization. Such records are usually maintained in office space and equipment close to hand. Also known as current records.
Activity – Each function of an organisation may be broken down into a number of ‘activities’, a term used in the sense of a class of actions that are taken in accomplishing a specific function. The activities in turn may be broken down into a number of transactions.
Administrative Records -- Administrative records are common to most organizations. Examples include routine correspondence or interoffice communications; records relating to human resources, equipment and supplies, and facilities; reference materials, routine activity reports, work assignments, appointment books, and telephone logs.
Aggregation -- Accumulated or collected records that are organized into groupings or series.
Analog -- Analog describes something that is continuously variable. In this context, analog refers to non-digital materials such as paper records, audio-cassettes, and traditional silver-based photographs.
Appraisal -- The process of establishing the value of a record in order to establish retention periods.
Archives -- Archives refers to both records and materials that are appraised to have archival value in addition to the physical place where archival materials and records are stored.
Authenticity -- An authentic record is on that has been created by the individual represented as the creator.
Business Analysis – Analysis of the operations, functions, activities and procedures of a department or functional unit.
Business Continuity -- Procedures to ensure an organization’s ability to continue operating outside of normal operating conditions.
Business Records -- Records and other materials created or received as part of an organization’s regular business activities.
Capture -- The process of determining that a record should be made and kept. This includes both records created and received by the organization. It involves deciding which documents are captured, which in turn implies decisions about who may have access to those documents and generally how long they are to be retained.
International Standard ISO/TR15489-2, Clause 4.3.2
Class -- A group of materials sharing a common characteristic. A set of records or materials in a hierarchy as determined by a file plan.
Classification -- The process of identifying the category or categories of business activities and the records they generate and grouping them, if applicable, into files to facilitate description, control, links and determination of disposition and access status.
International Standard ISO/TR15489-2, Clause 4.3.4
Compression -- A technique used to decrease file sizes and/or data streams in the digital environment. Used to describe files that have been compacted for storage or transfer. See also Lossy and Non-lossy Compression.
Content -- The intellectual substance of a document, including text, data, symbols, numerals, images, and sound. Along with context and structure, content is one of the three fundamental aspects of a record.
Content Management – the collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a collaborative environment. These procedures can be manual or computer-based. The procedures are designed to do the following:
- Allow for a large number of people to contribute to and share stored data
- Control access to data, based on user roles (defining which information users or user groups can view, edit, publish, etc.)
- Aid in easy storage and retrieval of data
- Reduce repetitive, duplicate input
- Improve the ease of report writing
- Improve communication between users
In a CMS, data can be defined as nearly anything: documents, movies, pictures, phone numbers, scientific data, and so forth. CMSs are frequently used for storing, controlling, revising, semantically enriching, and publishing documentation. Serving as a central repository, the CMS increases the version level of new updates to an already existing file. Version control is one of the primary advantages of a CMS.
Context -- The organizational, functional and operational circumstances surrounding records' creation, receipt, storage, or use, and its relationship to other records. Along with content and structure, context is one of the three fundamental aspects of a record.
Custody -- The responsibility for the care of documents based on their physical possession. Custody does not always include legal ownership or the right to control access to records.
General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G), Section 0.1
Data -- Units of information such as facts and figures.
Declassification -- The process of making previously restricted materials available for general consultation.
Destruction -- The act of permanently disposing of records.
Digital Signature -- A digital code that can be attached to an electronic document to uniquely identify the creator/sender.
Digitization -- The conversion of analog material into a digital format through digital photography or scanning. For example scanning a paper document to create a digital copy.
Disaster Mitigation Strategy -- Written policies, procedures and information designed to mitigate the impact of threats to an organization's records and to recover them in the event of a disruption to daily operations. See Vital Records, Risk Analysis and Assessment and Risk Management .
Disaster Recovery -- The operation of restoring record collections and related operations after a disaster.
Disclosure -- The process of making records available for public access.
Disposal -- The transfer of records, especially noncurrent records, to their final state, either destruction or transfer to an archives. \
Disposition -- A range of processes associated with implementing records retention, destruction or transfer decisions which are documented in disposition authorities or other instruments.
International Standard ISO/TR15489-1, Clause 3.9
Distributed Management -- Distributed management is an electronic recordkeeping strategy whereby the agency which created the electronic records maintains them in their computing environment, migrating them to new hardware and software platforms as that environment changes. It addresses technological change by exploiting the creating agency's need to periodically migrate current data to new platforms: electronic records of longer-term value are transferred at the same time.
Document -- Any recorded information or object which can be treated as a unit. Records are considered a subset of documents that have specific attributes. See also Record(s).
International Standard ISO/TR15489-1, Clause 3.10
Electronic (or Digital) Records -- Records that are communicated and maintained by means of electronic equipment and that have:
- structure: the format of the electronic record and any links to attachments or other related documents;
- content: the information in the structure of the electronic record conveying the evidence of the transaction; and
- context: the information documenting the source in terms of the transaction to which it relates, creator, date, security and access, language, disposal, format etc. of the electronic record and which is normally separated in the structure from the content.
Document -- Something tangible that records communication or facts with the help of marks, words, or symbols. A document serves to establish one or several facts, and can be relied upon as a proof thereof. Generally speaking, documents function as evidence of intentions, whereas records function as evidence of activities.
Document Management -- is the process of handling documents in such a way that information can be created, shared, organized and stored efficiently and appropriately.
Electronic Signature -- A digital mark, code, or other symbol that identifies an individual and that indicates responsibility for or consent to the content of the material to which it is affixed.
Encryption -- A security procedure which translates electronic data in plain text into a cipher code by means of either a code or a cryptographic system in order to render it incomprehensible without the aid of the original code or cryptographic system.
Enterprise Content Management (ECM) -- Technologies, tools, and methods used to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver content across an enterprise. ECM platforms provide the integrated tools, methods and strategies for establishing information (documents, records and, archives) management systems.
Enterprise Content Management System -- (ECMS) is content, documents, details and records related to the organizational processes of an enterprise. The purpose and result is to manage the organization's unstructured information content, with all its diversity of format and location.
Enterprise Document Management -- Enterprise document management (EDM) is a strategy for overseeing an organization's paper and electronic documents so they can be easily retrieved in the event of a compliance audit or subpoena. The term originally referred to electronic documents that were created on a computer or paper documents that were scanned into a digital format. The meaning has broadened to include email, faxes, instant messages, PowerPoint presentations, collaborative software entries and multimedia.
In the context of regulatory compliance, enterprise document management must address the following:
- How long documents should be retained.
- Where documents should be stored.
- How changes to documents can be traced.
- How documents can be recovered if a disaster should occur.
An enterprise document management software application can be used to create a single view of all an enterprise's documents and provide workflow tools to monitor and control modifications. In such a system, it's important that document in all formats, including multimedia, are tagged and indexed so they can be found quickly by keyword or full text search.
Enterprise Information Management -- (EIM) is a set of business processes, disciplines and practices used to manage the information created from an organization's data.
EIM initiatives seek to build efficient and agile data management operations with capabilities for information creation, capture, distribution and consumption. The goal is to provide and preserve information as a business asset that remains secure, easily accessible, meaningful, accurate and timely.
Evidential Value -- The quality of records that provides information about the origins, functions, and activities (context) of their creator.
File Classification Scheme -- A system that describes standard categories and that is used to organize records with common characteristics.
File Plan -- A plan or scheme developed by an office, department or organisation to organise and arrange different types of files. See File Classification Scheme.
Function -- The top or macro level of business activity in an organisation.
Functional Analysis -- The analysis of business activity into the hierarchical structure of functions, activities and transactions.
Inactive Records -- Records no longer needed on a day to day basis but may be required for administrative, legal or historical reasons.
Information -- Data, ideas, thoughts or memories irrespective of medium.
Information security -- The policies, procedures and practices required to maintain and provide assurance of the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information.
Informational Value -- The value of records based on their content.
Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles -- (GARP) is a framework for managing records in a way that supports an organization's immediate and future regulatory, legal, risk mitigation, environmental and operational requirements. GARP has eight principles for creating information governance best practices:
• Principle of Accountability - An organization shall assign a senior executive who will oversee a recordkeeping program and delegate program responsibility to appropriate individuals, adopt policies and procedures to guide personnel and ensure program audit ability.
• Principle of Transparency - The processes and activities of an organization’s recordkeeping program shall be documented in an understandable manner and be available to all personnel and appropriate interested parties.
• Principle of Integrity - A recordkeeping program shall be constructed so the records and information generated or managed by or for the organization have a reasonable and suitable guarantee of authenticity and reliability.
• Principle of Protection - A recordkeeping program shall be constructed to ensure a reasonable level of protection to records and information that are private, confidential, privileged, secret, or essential to business continuity.
• Principle of Compliance - The recordkeeping program shall be constructed to comply with applicable laws and other binding authorities, as well as the organization’s policies.
• Principle of Availability - An organization shall maintain records in a manner that ensures timely, efficient, and accurate retrieval of needed information.
• Principle of Retention - An organization shall maintain its records and information for an appropriate time, taking into account legal, regulatory, fiscal, operational and historical requirements.
• Principle of Disposition - An organization shall provide secure and appropriate disposition for records that are no longer required to be maintained by laws and organizational policies.
The GARP principles were created with the assistance of ARMA International and legal and IT professionals who reviewed and distilled global best practice resources. These included the international records management standard ISO15489-1 from the American National Standards Institute and court case law. The principles were vetted through a public call-for-comment process involving the professional records information management (RIM) community.
Information Governance -- is a holistic approach to managing corporate information by implementing processes, roles, controls and metrics that treat information as a valuable business asset.
Best practice information governance recognizes:
- Who has access to this information and how do they access it?
- What is this information?
- When was this information created or processed?
- Where is the information stored?
- Why is this information being retained?
- How is this information being stored/protected?
The goal of a holistic approach to information governance is to make information assets available to those who need it, while streamlining management, reducing storage costs and ensuring compliance. This, in turn, allows the company to reduce the legal risks associated with unmanaged or inconsistently managed information and be more agile in response to a changing marketplace.
Local Archive -- Low cost, warehouse style storage used for semi-active and inactive records. See Secondary Storage.
Medium -- The physical material, container, and/or carrier in or on which information is recorded (i.e. paper, film, magnetic tape). General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G), Section 0.1
Metadata -- Data that describes data such as the context, content and structure of records and their management through time.International Standard ISO/TR15489-1, Clause 3.12
Office of Record -- The office of record is the office or administrative unit that has been designated for the maintenance, preservation and disposition of record (official) copies.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) -- Is the electronic or mechanical translation or pattern recognition of textual images.
PDF -- Stands for Portable Document Format . PDF is considered one of the more universal text and graphic formats for digital imaging. PDF comes in various version including PDF/A which was specifically designed for archival uses.
Pixel -- Stands for “picture element.” Pixels are the elements that comprise a digital image. Pixels determine resolution according to the number of “pixels per inch” or “ppi.” See Resolution.
Pixelation -- Is an effect that causes the pixels of a digital image to become visible. When pixilation occurs the image lacks smooth tonal gradation and appears fragmented. Pixelation can occur with low resolution image capture, excessive lossy compression or when applying image enhancement techniques such as artistic filters.
Provenance -- The relationship between records and the organizations or individuals that created, accumulated, and/or maintained and used them in the conduct of personal or corporate activity.
General International Standard Archival Description ISAD(G), Section 0.1
Record -- The ISO defines records as "information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business". The International Council on Archives (ICA) Committee on Electronic Records defines a record as "a recorded information produced or received in the initiation, conduct or completion of an institutional or individual activity and that comprises content, context and structure sufficient to provide evidence of the activity.
UC defines a record as: Any writing, regardless of physical form or characteristics, containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by an operating unit or employee of the university. “Writing” means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, photocopying, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combination thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored. UC-RMP1
Records Center -- A facility used for low-cost storage of inactive and semi-current records before those records are destroyed or transferred to an archives.
Records Creation -- The first stage in the records lifecycle.
Records Information Management -- (RIM) is a corporate area of endeavor involving the administration of all business records throughout their life cycle.
In this context, a record is documentation of a business event. Among other possibilities, that documentation may exist in contracts, memos, paper and electronic files, marketing materials, reports, emails and instant message logs, website content, database records and information on removable storage devices.
The records lifecycle consists of discrete activities from the initial creation of a record until it is eventually archived or destroyed. According to the ISO 15489: 2001 standard, records management activities include "the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including the processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records."
Effective management of records through the lifecycle is essential for many corporate areas of concern including enterprise information management (EIM), business intelligence/ analytics (BI/BA), regulatory compliance and disaster recovery.
Records information management is also known as records management (RM) and records and information management (RIM).
Record Keeping -- Making and maintaining complete, accurate and reliable evidence of business transactions in the form of recorded information.
Record Keeping Systems -- Information systems which capture, maintain and provide access to records through time. International Standard ISO/TR15489-1, Clause 3.17
Records Lifecycle -- A mapping of the stages in the life of a record from creation to destruction or transfer to archives.
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.
International Standard ISO/TR15489-1, Clause 3.
Records Management Program -- A best practice records management program must be comprehensive, defensible and consistently enforced. The program needs to be:
- Universal: Applies a single records retention schedule consistently across all business units, business records and media – including both paper and electronic media.
- Defensible: Supports the schedule with legal research encompassing the federal, state and local requirements your organization is subject to.
- Up-to-date: Reviews and revises the retention schedule at least every two years to ensure the classification scheme and legal research are current.
- Email appropriate: Simplifies email classification and archiving process for employees by consolidation of the available email record classes they have to choose from. Implement automated email warning systems that guide employees to manage email in compliance with retention requirements.
- Official: Clearly distinguishes between records that are “official” and therefore subject to retention requirements and “convenience copies” which should be destroyed when they no longer have business value.
- Streamlined: Reduces risk and cost by periodically purging records that have exceeded their retention period and by moving inactive records to offsite storage.
- Consistently implemented: Encourages close adherence to retention policies and practices by providing initial and ongoing training to employees.
Records Retention – specifies what documents need to be retained for business and regulatory reasons and is the basis of an effective records management strategy. Compliance with the records retention schedule:
Reduces legal exposure and costs -- combining proven technology that automates many retention tasks with expertise in records retention can help you:
- Ensure compliance with the records retention provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley, Rule 26 of the FRCP, and other legal and regulatory measures
- Reduce litigation exposure by ensuring that records are retained for the appropriate period
- Reduce storage costs by up to 50 percent by retaining only required records
- Enhance litigation readiness and respond quickly and accurately to eDiscovery requests and regulatory investigations
Records Survey -- The process of gathering basic information about an organization's records, including their quantity, form, location, physical condition, storage facilities, rate of accumulation, and associated business processes.
Redaction -- The process of masking sensitive content of a record before making it available for consultation.
Registration -- In those systems where registration is used, its purpose is to provide evidence that a record has been created or captured in a records system. It involves recordkeeping brief descriptive information about the record in a register, and assigning the record a unique identifier.
International Standard ISO/TR15489-2. Clause 4.3.3
Reliable -- Having authority and trustworthiness as evidence. Electronic Archivists Workbook. ICA 2005
Resolution -- A comprehensive instruction covering the disposition of records to assure that they are retained for as long as necessary based on their administrative, fiscal, legal and historic value.
Risk Analysis and Assessment -- An evaluation of the potential threats to, the likelihood of their occurring and their impact on records and archives.
RGB -- Stands for Red, Green, and Blue, is a common colour image mode in photographic and digital imaging. RGB files typically use 24-bit continuous tone colour.
Scanner -- An optical device that transforms an analog image into a graphics image readable by a computer.
Scan(ning) -- The action of digitally capturing an image using an electronic scanner.
Secondary storage -- Low cost, warehouse style storage used for semi active and inactive records. See also Local Archive.
Semi-active Records -- Records which are referred to infrequently and therefore are typically stored away from the work area.
Sentencing -- The act of applying a retention schedule to records.
Series -- Records that are arranged or maintained as a unit as a result of the same accumulation or activity or because of some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt and/or use.
Structure -- The manner in which elements are organized, interrelated, and, displayed. Along with content and context, structure is one of the three fundamental aspects of a record.
Substantive Records -- Records related to the core activities of an organisation i.e. those activities which are unique to the organisation or office.
Taxonomy -- An intellectual structure which arranges items into groups and subgroups based on predetermined rules.
Thesaurus -- A thesaurus is a controlled list of terms linked together by semantic, hierarchical, and associative or equivalence relationships. Such a tool acts as a guide to allocating classification terms to individual records.
TIFF -- Stands for “Tagged Image Format” is a standard file format for photographic digital images. TIFF is commonly used for long term storage of digital images.
Tracking -- Creating, capturing and maintaining information about the movement and use of records.
International Standard ISO/TR15489-1, Clause 3.19
Transaction -- The smallest unit of business activity.
Transfer -- The process of moving records as part of their lifecycle.
Transitory Records -- Any data or information required for only a limited time to ensure the completion of a routine action or the preparation of a subsequent record.
Version Control -- Techniques, especially in an automated environment, to control access to and modification of documents and to track versions of a document when it is revised.
Vital Records -- The records which are necessary to ensure the ongoing operation of an organisation in the event of a disaster or other disruption to normal operating conditions (e.g. power outage).