The grey area of recordkeeping

Hopefully you’ve noticed changes going on at QSA lately. If you haven’t been to the Recordkeeping SPOT^ in the last couple of weeks, we’ve published some new advice about creating and capturing records in your agency. You might notice that some of our positions on certain types of advice have changed recently so we thought we’d take the opportunity to explain how and why we came to these decisions.

One of the biggest shifts for us is the idea that an eDRMS is only one way of effectively managing records (and still comply with legislation). What we’re suggesting is that a recordkeeping solution can be any business application that has appropriate recordkeeping functionality. Why the change? The reality is, a lot of agencies don’t have an eDRMS. What agencies do have are a bunch of business applications that usually contain records. Regardless of the application, the records inside them still need to be managed.

Previously, we’ve taken a fairly ‘black and white’ approach to managing records. We’ve told you that you must use an eDRMS. We’ve told you that if you don’t have an eDRMS, you must print your records. What we’re now telling you is that recordkeeping is much more ‘grey’ than this. We’ve decided to focus more on the grey area because no two agencies are the same. The types of records you create, the way you manage them, the length of time you have to keep them, the internal policies and procedures you have to align with – they’re all different. This means your approach to recordkeeping is going to be different to the agency next door.

What we want you to focus on is risk and value when it comes to managing your records. Are most of your records high-risk, high-value? You might want to consider a secure, stable, dedicated recordkeeping solution. How about if most of your records are low-risk and of a temporary nature? You might want to think about putting some simple safeguards around the application they’re already in to make sure they’re accessible and secure for the minimum amount of time you need to keep them.

We’re giving you the power to make these decisions because you know your agency better than we do – you’re best positioned to do the risk assessments, to determine value, to consider budget and resources – to make your recordkeeping grey area your own. We just want to let you know that you have options (that aren’t just black and white), and that you don’t need to develop a gold plated solution for all of the various records that your agency may have.

How do you feel about these changes? What is the greyest area of recordkeeping in your agency? Want to know the background to other advice we’ve developed lately? Tell us what you think!

^Please note: This refers to the previous website. All of QSA’s recordkeeping advice has moved to


6 thoughts on “The grey area of recordkeeping

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  1. Thanks for a good post, grey areas are unavoidable and it’s refreshing to see this acknowledged at your level. I am facing exactly this prospect at my agency where we have just upgraded to RM8, but folks using other corporate systems are loathe to give theirs up. Some of these systems are not bad at recordkeeping, and users are performing recordkeeping without realising they’re doing it. So we are looking at creative ways to ensure compliance across systems, without seeking to manage all of them. Digital Preservation is the message I’m carrying to meetings, intranet blog posts and elevator catch-ups: it’s everyone’s responsibility.

  2. I look forward to the new approach continuing, recordkeeping is definitely different in different agencies and one size does not fit all. I am glad to see it recognised.

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