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ISO Publishes Management System Standards for Records

Two new standards facilitate transparency in corporate governance

Published: Monday, November 21, 2011 - 16:10

In the wake of recent failures in corporate governance, two new standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) will help organizations to disclose corporate information quickly and effectively. Increased pressure by industry regulators obliges companies to provide such information because irregularities in financial management, ethical dealings, disclosure, and transparency of decisions have become common.

ISO 30300:2011—“Information and documentation—Management systems for records—Fundamentals and vocabulary,” and ISO 30301:2011—“Information and documentation—Management systems for records—Requirements,” distill the expertise of experts drawn from 27 countries on five continents.

These standards have been developed to be compatible with and complementary to other management system standards (MSS) developed by ISO, such as ISO 9001 (quality management), ISO 14001 (environmental management), and ISO/IEC 27001 (information security management).

ISO 30300 is the umbrella standard that includes the fundamentals and vocabulary common to the whole series, while ISO 30301 specifies requirements for a management system for records. Further standards in the ISO 30300 series are under development.

“The ISO 30300 series offers the methodology for a systematic approach to the creation and management of records, aligned with organizational objectives and strategies,” say Judith Ellis and Carlota Bustelo, leaders of the working groups that developed the standards. “Managing records using an MSS supports cost-effective operational processes, such as storage, information retrieval, information reuse, litigation, and due diligence.”

The cost of developing a management system for records depends on the scope of implementation within each organization and is determined by business needs and an assessment of risk, and can provide both short- and long-term returns on investment, as well as cost avoidance.

Global factors drive organizations, whether they are profit or nonprofit, commercial or government, large or small, to reduce their costs and increase their responsiveness to the external environment by implementing a management system for records. These factors include:
• Intensified commercial competition
• Technological change leading to e-commerce and e-government
• Speed of communications and dissemination of information through the Internet
• Increasing complexity of the regulatory environment whether that’s local, national, or international
• Increased expectations of citizens that organizations should operate in an accountable, transparent, and socially responsible manner
• Heightened risk from the external environment, including security threats and natural disasters

Creation of records is integral to any organization’s activities, processes, and systems. A management system for records enables business efficiency, accountability, risk management, and business continuity, and empowers organizations to capitalize on the value of their information resources as business, commercial, and knowledge assets. At the same time, a management system for records contributes to the preservation of organizational memory, in response to the challenges of the global and digital environment.

Sectors toward which the new ISO standards are targeted include governments, education, and manufacturing industry (especially pharmaceuticals and mining). Companies involved in social responsibility programs as well as sectors with a strong need to demonstrate compliance, such as nuclear energy and telecommunications, are particularly expected to benefit from effective implementation.

Development of these new standards incorporates experience gained in the implementation of ISO15489—“Information and documentation—Records management,” published some 10 years ago.

ISO 30300:2011 and ISO30301:2011were developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 46—“Information and documentation—subcommittee SC 11—Archives/records management,”and are available from ISO national member bodies. They may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, or through the ISO Store.


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The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards. ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 162 countries, one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. ISO is a nongovernmental organization that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. ISO enables a consensus to be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society. View the ISO Standards list.