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Determine business and technology requirements

Your agency’s recordkeeping requirements are based on:

Recordkeeping requirements will tell you:

  • which specific records must be created and kept
  • what format they need to be created in
  • how long they need to be kept
  • how to store and manage them
  • who should have access to them.

Your technological and business requirements should be included in your strategic recordkeeping plan.

See an example of a recordkeeping requirement.

1. Business needs

Do an environmental scan or assessment of your business areas to determine the recordkeeping requirements that relate to your business. You can do this by:

  • looking at business processes and procedures
  • identifying and assessing business systems
  • assessing if and how recordkeeping applications are currently used
  • finding out how records are formally and informally managed
  • reading related documents (e.g. policies, procedures, plans, annual reports, external reviews)
  • conducting employee interviews to get specific knowledge from business areas.

We recommend that you:

  • focus on one area of the business at a time
  • keep a record of your findings (e.g. name and description of the application, owner and users, age of application, what kind of information is captured, what records may be created)
  • use process maps or other diagrams to explain how processes relate to business operations.

When assessing specific business applications, concentrate on ones that provide some evidence of business operations (e.g. applications that facilitate transactions). Think about:

  • specific processes that support business operations (e.g. workflows)
  • business rules applied within the applications
  • policies and procedures that support the applications
  • who uses and manages the applications
  • training for employees in the use of the applications or business processes
  • web-based applications that are used (e.g. customer complaints using social media).

2. Technology requirements and functionality

Your recordkeeping system and strategic plan will need to include the technology your agency uses (e.g. recordkeeping and business applications, devices, cloud services) and how it is managed (e.g. backups, records creation and storage).

Also consider the people who use or manage the technology, any policies, rules or procedures governing its use, and any associated tools.

Business requirements and functionality

Recordkeeping and business applications need to meet your agency’s business needs. Find out if:

  • existing workflows are built into the application
  • specific fields are required to capture certain information about records (e.g. unique client numbers, date ranges)
  • the business requires specific reporting functionality
  • the application can accommodate different data formats.

Recordkeeping requirements and functionality

Recordkeeping functionality is not always considered or included in the initial design of business systems, databases and applications. They may have the capacity to create and store records, but not the functionality to manage records, keep necessary metadata or document the disposal of records.

The following is a list of capabilities and functionality you may need:

  1. Link the record to business context: Your application should let you create documents and place them in files that have been titled in line with a business titling standard. Saving the document in a file links it to the business context and helps make the information a record.
  2. Manage the records: Records should remain full and accurate–this is usually the type of functionality that needs to be built into an application.
  3. Keep and destroy records: Records need to be kept for specific retention periods then legally disposed of. You will need the record to the information about how long records need to be kept and their disposal. This is usually managed by set rules within the recordkeeping application. The application will also need to be able to report on your disposal activities (like when a record is due to be disposed).
  4. Facilitate importing and exporting: This will assist you with migrating records from one application to another (to ensure they remain accessible over time or when business systems are decommissioned).

The international standard (ISO 16175) developed by the International Council of Archives outlines the main principles and functional requirements for applications and systems that create, control and dispose of digital records.

The standard contains three parts:

You can use the standard and the guideline (1.87 MB) to:

  • understand and meet your recordkeeping responsibilities
  • implement the principles in the standard
  • develop specifications and requirements for a new system
  • design records management software or other business information systems
  • review the functionality of existing systems.

Systems without recordkeeping functionality

If an application does not have automated recordkeeping functionality, you will need to ensure its records are managed and lawfully disposed of by:

  • capturing and retaining logs of business/software applications which can act as the source of recordkeeping metadata
  • extracting records for migration so they are kept for their authorised retention periods
  • developing processes to show that records have been disposed of in line with authorised retention periods
  • using application programming interface (API) technology to move records from business applications into a recordkeeping application or eDRMS.

Cloud-based services, storage and systems

Some technology your agency uses to support your business may be based in the cloud (e.g. storage, services, systems and applications).

Find out about the recordkeeping considerations and risks and how to manage cloud storage and cloud based services.

3. Recordkeeping applications and business systems

Business, compliance and budgetary requirements, as well as the size and maturity of your agency, will determine which application is right for you.

See the following overviews of common recordkeeping applications.

Electronic document and records management system (eDRMS)

DescriptionDesigned to manage digital records
Combines document management and records management

Easy information retrieval
Complete records are made and kept
Records are managed throughout their lifetime
Less chance of information being lost, destroyed or being accessed inappropriately
Able to configure and specify the capture of optional and mandatory metadata

DisadvantagesCan be expensive to implement and support
Implementation is a significant change for the business
Integration with existing business applications may be needed for the eDRMS to work more efficiently
Suitable forAgencies with developed IT infrastructure
Agencies that want a comprehensive digital recordkeeping environment

Collaborative applications

DescriptionSharePoint, Yammer, Lync
May be integrated with other tools or applications to increase functionality
Enable both workplace collaboration and records management practice
AdvantagesIntegration with other applications can be a relatively simple process and can act as a pathway to something more comprehensive, like an eDRMS
Integrate existing digital work processes with digital recordkeeping through a collaborative environment
DisadvantagesTo ensure collaborative applications have some recordkeeping functionality, significant configuration may be required
Apply application controls, business rules, work processes and user training to foster good recordkeeping practices

Suitable for

Agencies that would like to use collaborative applications to improve business efficiency but who may not have the resources available to implement a dedicated recordkeeping application (e.g. eDRMS)

Business applications

DescriptionIdeally, core business applications should include recordkeeping functionality (in reality this may not be the case)
Building functionality allows information and records to be made and kept in the same application
The best time to think about building recordkeeping functionality into an application is when it is being designed or implemented
AdvantagesEmployees do not have to duplicate information across applications
Eliminates the uncertainty around 2 ‘points of truth’ for business information
DisadvantagesIntegrating recordkeeping functionality can be difficult and expensive
Recordkeeping functionality may not be seen as high priority in the design and implementation of new business applications
Requires collaboration between IT and recordkeeping areas

Suitable for

Agencies that want to manage digital records in the business applications that they are first created in.

Shared network drives

DescriptionIf used properly, shared drives can provide an easy and inexpensive option for storing and locating digital information
Long term, network drives are not the best strategy for maintaining memory and evidence of business operations
AdvantagesAn inexpensive way to manage records using existing technology
User familiarity with this type of technology and the folder structure
DisadvantagesA lack of recordkeeping functionality means records can be changed or deleted
Unless strict naming standards are implemented, informal names may lead to issues finding and retrieving information, and records being duplicated
Limitations on the amount of metadata (e.g. title, dates) that can be captured, so records may lack context
Requires a high level of quality control

Suitable for

Agencies that:

  • would like to manage digital records but do not have a formal recordkeeping application or have a limited budget for recordkeeping
  • have an already established shared network drive


DescriptionInvolves printing all records to paper and managing a paper-based environment
AdvantagesKeeping records in just one format may be less confusing
DisadvantagesPrinting large volumes of paper records isn’t efficient
When digital records are printed to paper, they may lose context
Storage space for paper may be expensive
Paper records may not be accessible to all employees

Suitable for

Agencies with lower levels of technical infrastructure in place (usually very small agencies)


DescriptionThe capture and use of both paper and digital records
In a hybrid environment you must be able to manage both formats–so paper records must be captured and managed digitally, usually through the use of a record or file profile that points to the records’ physical location
AdvantagesMay act as a pathway to a more comprehensive recordkeeping application
(e.g. eDRMS)
Records that must be kept in paper format (e.g. for legal reasons) can be managed
DisadvantagesDifferent record formats have different requirements for creation, capture, management, retention and disposal
Additional policies, procedures and business rules will need to be put in place to ensure employees know how to create and manage records in each format

Suitable for

Agencies where recordkeeping maturity and technology differs between business areas

4. Find and document requirements

Find requirements

Recordkeeping obligations and requirements can be found in legislation, policies, procedures and other documents.

Keywords in documents, policies, procedures or legislation that may indicate a recordkeeping requirement include agenda, copy, files, document etc.

See an example of finding a recordkeeping requirement.

Documenting requirements

Document recordkeeping requirements in the manner best suited to your agency (e.g. spreadsheet, table, form).

This should include all the business, legislative and technology requirements you have identified.

You can use the sample recordkeeping requirements form (DOC, 380 KB) or adapt it to suit your needs.

You can usually sort requirements by logically grouping them by business or core function (e.g. finance, human resources)

5. More information

See more advice on recordkeeping requirements for business systems.

  • Guidelines and Functional Requirements for Records in Business Systems (1.87 MB), International Council on Archives (ICA)
    Provides detailed guidelines on identifying and addressing your recordkeeping needs when looking at business systems, as well as a set of general records management functionality requirements.
  • Business Systems Assessment Framework, National Archives of Australia
    Provides a streamlined and risk-based tool that you can use to assess the information management functionality in business systems.
  • Checklist for assessing business systems, State Archives & Records NSW
    Can be used to assess an existing or new business system. It will help you to determine:
    • what business activities the system supports and if they are subject to any specific recordkeeping requirements
    • how well the system is currently functioning
    • what action may be required to enable the system to meet recordkeeping requirements.
  • Queensland Government ICT Planning Methodology, QGCIO
    This was developed to enable Queensland Government agencies to optimise and align their ICT activities and initiatives with agency and whole-of-Government business direction. It includes clearly defined processes that complement existing strategic, business and ICT planning activities. The methodology is scalable and can be applied to planning units ranging from whole of agency to a single business area.
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), Axelos
    Provides best practice guidance to support the service lifecycle. It is a framework for IT service management and covers areas such as service delivery, problem management, change and configuration management and continual process improvement.
  • DIRKS Methodology and Manual, State Archives & Records NSW
    Provides an eight-step methodology for the design, development and implementation of recordkeeping systems and tools. DIRKS needs to be tailored to fit with the overall project management methodology that is employed by the organisation.

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