National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Electronic Records Management

Electronic Records Management

The guidance on these pages has been provided to support public authorities who are working towards compliance with the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011. The content should be read alongside the wider guidance on records management provided on PR(S)A section of the NRS.

While the primary audience for this guidance is the Scottish public sector, the principles and practices outlined are relevant to all organisations and are not public body specific. A brief overview of each subject is provided, together with links to more detailed guidance and other resources, drawn from external sources.

Guidance on further areas will be added in due course. We welcome suggestions for new topics to cover, as well feedback on current content and recommendations on other external resources to link to. We would also like to feature case studies of e-records management in the Scottish public sector and would be interested to hear from anyone who may be interested in contributing one. Please contact us at: [email protected].

Managing Electronic Records

Managing electronic records effectively is a challenge for any organisation. While the general principles of records management apply to records in all formats, there are specific issues associated with electronic records which need to be taken into account.

It is more difficult to ensure that the content, context and structure of records are preserved and protected when records do not have a physical format. This can impact on the long-term authenticity, reliability, and trustworthiness of electronic records.

The approach you adopt for managing your electronic records should be carefully planned and tailored to the business needs of your organisation and the regulatory framework in which it operates. You will need to consider the types of records you are creating and what your requirements are for them. Records of business activities and transactions are maintained by organisations in a diversity of media and formats and are often stored in multiple locations. Many organisations will be using customised applications to support specific business processes. Some types of records may have particular management and preservation challenges associated with them.

A lot of organisations will still be managing paper and electronic records concurrently and will continue to do so for a considerable period of time. It is important to work out how these systems will operate together.

While you may not manage all your electronic records within one system, you should still be able to apply retention rules from a primary business classification scheme which embraces the whole organisation.

Scottish public authorities subject to the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 are required to demonstrate in the records management plan which they submit to the Keeper of the Records of Scotland that they are managing all of their records in all formats, including electronic, effectively.

Good records management is about more than just meeting legislative and regulatory requirements however. The importance of managing your organisation's electronic records efficiently from the moment of their creation should not be underestimated. As the growth in the use of electronic records increases so do the associated risks, if effective electronic records management procedures are not properly followed, that records vital to your business activities may become obscured in a digital landfill or lost through technical obsolescence.

Starting Points for Electronic Records Management

Simple Ways to Improve How You Manage Your Electronic Records

Managing Email

Standards and Requirements for Electronic Records Management

Electronic Records Glossary