A new set of guidelines to enable management to deliver authentic, reliable and useable records over time to meet their business needs has just been published by ISO (International Organization for Standardization).

Robert McLean, an expert member of the ISO subcommittee responsible for archives and records management, commented: "ISO 23081-1 clearly shows how an organization can systematically and effectively improve its record keeping – and do so in such a way that the business objectives are supported."

By creating and maintaining reliable records, and protecting their integrity as long as is required, organizations can reap the benefits of conducting their business in an orderly, efficient and accountable manner. "Senior management will be able to identify tangible benefits such as reduced costs and better managed risks, thereby contributing to better corporate governance," further notes Robert McLean.

The new ISO standard is a guide to understanding and implementing metadata for use within the framework of ISO 15489, Information and documentation – Records management. It addresses the relevance of records management metadata in business processes and the different roles and types of metadata that support business and records management processes. It also sets a framework for managing these metadata.

Benefits expected to result from records management metadata include the ability to: protect records as evidence and ensure their accessibility and usability through time; facilitate the ability to understand records, support and ensure the evidential value of records; help to ensure the authenticity, reliability and integrity of records; support and manage access, privacy and rights, as well as support efficient retrieval.

ISO 23081-1:2006, Information and documentation – Records management processes – Metadata for records – Part 1: Principles, is the first part of an overall framework which is due to be developed over the next two years, and that will include the following documents:

  • Part 2: Implementation issues
  • Part 3: Evaluation instrument for existing metadata sets or schemas to assess them in relation to the principles in part 1 of ISO 23081.

ISO 23081-1:2006 has been developed by ISO/TC 46, Information and documentation, subcommittee SC 11 Archives/records management, working group WG 1, Records management metadata. The standard costs 96 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and from ISO Central Secretariat (see below).