REPORT ON THE ELECTRONIC RECORDSMANAGEMENT STUDY VISIT TO THE
UNITED KINGDOM: 20 SEPT.–3 OCTOBER 2003 AND THEFOLLOW-UP
WORKSHOP IN PRETORIA:25-28 NOVEMBER 2003: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
A comprehensive report on both the Electronic Records Management
Study Trip (London 20 Sept-3 October 2003) and the follow-up workshop
(Pretoria: 25-28 Nov. 2003) is attached
1. FIELDS OF INTEREST
The following specific areas of interest were studied during the visit:
? The IRMT and Commonwealth Secretariat.
? Relevant legislation in both the UK and RSA.
? Electronic records management.
? Implementation and roll-out of electronic records management software
programmes; demonstrations of electronic records management software
? Electronic document management.
? Digitisation, digitisation programmes and related scanning.
? Digital archiving, with an emphasis on archiving databases and websites.
? Related IT issues.
? Records management (paper and electronic) in the following functional
- trade and industry
- libraries and archives
- local government
? Cultural/change management.
? Electronic governance.
? Digital cataloguing of and online access to archives.
? Records management in general.
Fields of interest that was discussed during the follow-up workshop revolved not
around electronic records management only, but around records management
capacity building in general.
2. RECURRING THEMES
The following recurring themes developed as the study visit progressed:
2.1 General 2.1.1 Electronic records management underpins electronic government and
2.1.2 The government modernisation programme in the UK, as the driving force behind
electronic records management. In this context, certain parallels can be drawn
between the UK FoI legislation and this country’s PAIA legislation. The UK FoI
legislation only takes effect in 2005, while this country’s PAIA legislation has
already been implemented.
2.1.3 The professionalism and enthusiasm of all individuals and facilitators who
presented the study programme.
2.1.4 The high regard there is in the UK for the profession of records management and
archives, as well as for the UK-NA itself.
2.1.5 The status of records management in general and especially electronic records
management, use of technology and archiving, both digital and in paper format. 2.1.6 A lot more responsibility for certain aspects of records management is given to
government offices and expected from them, than is the case in RSA, particularly
with regard to file plans and appraisal.
2.1.7 Computer literacy is vital for all staff and placing of computers is also important.
2.1.8 Completely different appraisal methods, which also impact on the compilation of
2.1.9 Different organisations implemented different solutions, according to their varying
functions, needs, etc. Not one office had exactly the same solution. 2.1.10 Records Management practices in the conventional paper environment in UK
organisations seem less regulated than in South Africa, but the UK archival
legislation is being revised to include records management as a statutory
2.2 Use of ERM software
2.2.1 Driven by targets for UK FoI legislation.
2.2.2 Senior management buy-in.
2.2.3 Pilots before full roll-outs and obtain feedback from staff.
2.2.4 Information architecture should be done first.
2.2.5 Decisions and policies about which documents should be declared/captured as
records, which records should be kept and for how long. 2.2.6 Inventory of all electronic records in an organisation.
2.2.7 Security and access.
2.2.8 Compliance with international electronic records management standards.
2.2.9 Use of ERM to promote and improve business processes, the importance of
underlying business benefits and the use of business cases. 2.2.10 The importance of cultural/change management issues and communication with
staff. Some offices made use of newsletters/publicity and information brochures. 2.2.11 Systems must be user friendly.
2.2.13 ERM projects take time – full roll-out and implementation can take up to three
2.2.14 Use of comprehensive thesaurus to enable efficient search and retrieval and
accommodate specific technical and functional languages.
The following themes developed during the follow-up workshop
? Lack of senior management support
? No clarity about roles and responsibilities of the NARS, DPSA, GITOC and
? Lack of capacity in provinces to manage records
? Client offices buy products without doing proper user requirement
specifications and then have to compromise their needs to suit the products.
3. THE SOUTH AFRICAN ARCHIVAL CONTEXT
3.1 Approach to file plans
All the institutions dealt with during the study visit agreed that correspondence
conducted in the electronic environment must be structured in one way or the
other, according to a structured plan and filed according to such a plan.
The following similarities between approaches to the use and development of file
plans in the UK and the South African archival requirements were noticed:
? manual processes and procedures must be in place before computerisation;
? use of a functional file plan, where the focus is on functional rather than
organisational principles, as restructuring occurs often; a classification
structure centred on functions and activities is not subject to organisational
changes and fluctuations;
? only records management components design file plans;
? requests for input from all staff regarding some of the following aspects:
- examining existing filing structure
- naming documents/folders
- use of meaningful names and avoiding generic folder names such as
“miscellaneous”, “private”, “new”, personal names, etc.
- grouping of like subjects together
- thinking about how long documents should be retained
The following differences were noted:
? the NAO uses a phased approach to building a file plan, developing with
the business as the ERM system is developed; in the South Africa file
plans are developed and approved up front, as a unit, according to NARS
? in the electronic environment the UK DTI does not have only specialists
opening folders – all 5000 staff members open electronic folders with
control points at the middle level; sub-folder problems are prevented by
the use of good naming convention policies at the DTI;
? at the British Library, only records management staff creates electronic
3.2 The role of the records management component of the NARS and the Provincial
Archives Services as far as the management of electronic records is concerned,
is a regulatory, monitoring one. The components are not responsible for the
actual implementation and institution of such programmes, but rather with
ensuring that all requirements of the NARS legislation and records management
principles and policies are adhered to. The component also provides guidance
and information in this regard. It is very important that this distinction be
understood. The responsibility for actual roll-out and implementation lies with
each individual organisation, including the relevant records management units in
3.3 In South Africa all government offices in all spheres, make use of a variety of
electronic systems, in addition to and including conducting correspondence
electronically in various formats. However, the position of compliance with records management standards and legislation is not up to standard in most offices, although there are organisations that do comply with certain standards and aspects of legislation. It is not within the scope of this report to go into detail about this matter. However, it is necessary to mention the fact that most government offices do not yet grasp the importance of ensuring that all electronic records are managed in according with records management principles, policies and standards laid down by the NARS. This is despite a concerted effort at educating offices in this regard, due to a lot of resistance from officials within the organisations.
REPORT ON THE ELECTRONIC RECORDS
MANAGEMENT STUDY VISIT TO THE UNITED
KINGDOM: 20 SEPT.–3 OCT. 2003 AND THE
FOLLOW-UP WORKSHOP IN PRETORIA:
25-28 NOV. 2003
Front entrance to the National Archives, UK
(From the National Archives, UK Website, 2004)
Louisa Venter, Lesego Phachane
and Cecilia Cassingham
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS iii
1. Purpose of the Report 1
2 Purpose of the Study Visit 1
3. Purpose of the Follow-up Workshop 1
4. Sponsors, Facilitators and Participants 2 4.1 Sponsor: The Commonwealth Secretariat 2
4.2 Facilitators: The International Records Management Trust 2
4.3 Participants 3
4.3.1 Study Visit 3
4.3.2 Follow-up workshop 3
5. Report on Activities 4
5.1 Study Visit 4
5.1.1 Introduction and practicalities, outline and objectives of the programme 4
5.1.2 Report on study sessions dealing with Electronic Records Management 5
188.8.131.52 Electronic Records Management in UK Government
Departments: Overview of Programmes and Strategies,
Directives and Legislation. 5
184.108.40.206 TRIM Context in Operation 6
220.127.116.11 Site Visit: National Audit Office 7 18.104.22.168 Videos on Electronic Governance 9 22.214.171.124 Presentation: Department of Trade and Industry Electronic Records
Management Implementation 9
126.96.36.199 Site Visit: British Library 10 188.8.131.52 Site Visit: Oxleas NHS Trust: Information and Electronic Records
Management Systems and Operations 15
184.108.40.206 Demonstration: Valid Electronic Records Management System 21 220.127.116.11 General observations 22
5.1.3 Report on study sessions dealing with digital archiving, online
cataloguing and archives repositories 23
18.104.22.168 National Archives of the UK 23 22.214.171.124 Viewing of the PROCAT System 26 126.96.36.199 Digital Preservation at the National Archives, UK 26 188.8.131.52 UK Local Government 28 184.108.40.206.1 Essex Records Office 29 220.127.116.11.2 East Sussex Records Offices 32 18.104.22.168 National Digital Archive of Datasets 35
22.214.171.124.1 Introduction to NDAD 35
126.96.36.199.2 Study Session 35
188.8.131.52 General observations 36
184.108.40.206.1 Digital Archives and Web Archives 36
220.127.116.11.2 National Digital Archives of Datasets 37
5.1.4 Report on other Study Sessions 37 18.104.22.168 Visits to historical buildings 37 22.214.171.124 Introductory Records Management Course – NA-UK 37 126.96.36.199 Workshop Session on Development of own ERM Strategy
and Implementation Plans 40
5.1.5 End of Study Visit 40
5.2 Follow-up Workshop: 41
6. Recommendations 47
6.1 Recommendations applicable to the NARS 47
6.2 Recommendations applicable to the Western Cape Archives 48
7. The way forward 49
8. Expressions of thanks and appreciation 49
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
CALM Digital cataloguing system, East Sussex County Council Records Centre
DfES Department for Education and Skills, UK DTI Department of Trade and Industry, UK
EDRMS Electronic Document and Records Management System ECC Essex County Council
ERO Essex Records Office
ERM Electronic Records Management
FoI Freedom of Information Act, UK
IRMT International Records Management Trust
IT Information Technology
NAO National Audit Office, UK
NARS National Archives and Records Service, RSA NA-UK National Archives, UK
NDAD National Digital Archive of Datasets, UK NHS National Health Service, UK
PAIA Promotion of Access to Information Act, RSA PAWCProvincial Administration: Western Cape
PGITO Provincial Government Information Technology Officer PRO Public Record Office, UK, now National Archives PROCAT Online digital cataloguing system, NA-UK SEAX Online digital cataloguing system, ERO
ULCC University of London Computer Centre