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The digital world and records management - ISO 15489

Posted by Archives New Zealand on 5 May 2016

ISO 15489 1 2016 Information and documentation Records management

ISO 15489-1:2016 – Part 1 has been updated!

Some history

The International Standard on Records Management, ISO 15489, was launched in October 2001 in two parts (Part 1: General and Part 2: Guidelines). It was developed by an international committee using the Australian Standard’s AS 4390-1996: Records Management as a starting point. 

ISO 15489 applies to the creation, capture and management of records regardless of structure or form, in all types of business and technological environments over time. Now, fifteen years down the track, Part 1 has been updated with plans for revision of Part 2 also underway.

At the recent ARANZ (Archives and Records Association of New Zealand) seminar in Wellington, Cassie Findlay, project lead of the working group for updating the standard, discussed the assumptions that guided the approach to the update and introduced the new content.

Contextual assumptions addressed

The fast changing digital and online world has added new reasons to create, capture and manage records well.  However, the updated standard is designed to still include paper-based or “hybrid” environments by taking a technology-agnostic approach.  

Increased opportunities for records as enablers of business activity and as information assets to be used and reused in the digital environment need to be managed. The shift to data-driven business, open government initiatives, shared and collaborative services have extended traditional organisational boundaries and jurisdictional environments.

There is now a greater (or perhaps more public) emphasis on corporate responsibility as well as increased demand for transparency in decision making.  It is important that risk management is included when devising records management strategies and the management of records is a risk management strategy in itself.

The challenge is to properly contextualise and manage records over time. The standard defines the concepts and principles from which approaches to the creation, capture and management of records are developed.  The aim is to provide flexibility in implementation while giving clear direction on what those implementations should be achieving.

What’s new?

The assumptions above are the basis for new sections on:

- the basic concepts of records and managing records including metadata for records and records systems aiming to produce authoritative records

- appraisal, as a core activity, important for determining records requirements

- records controls, such as metadata schemas, disposal authorities and access and permissions rules are more clearly explained

- policies and defined responsibilities for managing records well

- records processes that can be implemented using simple or sophisticated technologies not related to specific systems

The new version of ISO 15489 will be included in the recommended guidance for Archives New Zealand’s new Records and Information Management standard, and was an integral part of the development of our new standard.

Copies of ISO 15489 can be purchased from Standards New Zealand at

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