The ISO standard 15489 is one of the most talked about pieces of information in records management today. The ISO standard was published on the 13th of March 2002 (Standards Australia, 2002a) and since then it has been steadily accepted by the records management community (Joseph, 2012, p.59). The standard is basically a set of guidelines and procedures for engageing best records keeping practice. This standard can provide great advantages from its use by organisations and is set up to be able to provide backup for organisations wanting to cover themselves in relation to important records management principles, like metadata standards, classification schemes, retention and disposition schedules, security permissions and monitoring and auditing. There have been several successful cases of ISO 15489 being used as a tool to help execute records management systems or modify existing records management systems in organisations and on a country wide basis. But still there exists some reluctance to utilise the advice of the standard in some organisations. The aforementioned points will be expanded upon in this paper to show that the implementation of records management programs can be greatly assisted with the aid of the ISO standard 15489.
The benefits of having an RM program in an organisation are many and varied. The most obvious of these being is “to improve efficiency and productivity”(Richmond, n.d, p.2). The improved efficiency and productivity comes from the time saved searching for documents and records and the time saved from costly litigation cases stemming from lost records and important documentation. David Price (Price, 2001, p.274)has himself stated that a senior manager related to him how 20% of his time was spent on searching for important records.
This time saved and improved efficiency will also help with litigation and legal issues. There have been numerous times where bad records management has resulted in costly penalties in legal cases. A good example of this is the Anderson trial, where the Arthur Anderson company was alleged to have destroyed audit records just after an investigation into the Enron company that they were doing public accounting work for (ARMA International, n.d, p.3). The Arthur Anderson company was convicted of obstructing justice in June of 2002(ARMA International, n.d, p.3), which goes to show the price paid for not following proper records management procedures, disposal procedures in particular.
Another important point of records management is the role it plays in maintaining the history and collective memory of the company. It is important to know what came before so we can know where we are going next and not repeating what has happened in the past. It has been said particularly that it is very important to “ know under what circumstances and for what purposes a particular document was created” (Pollitt, 2000, p.10). A good RM program can help companies and organisations do just that.