Note for electronic edition: This document was translated to HTML and placed on-line by the Department of Defence, from a RTF copy provided by OGIT in August 1996. Electronic copies of diagrams were not available and have been omitted. Comments on the mark-up and content should be addressed to: Tom Worthington, (Former Chair of the
IESC EDMSC), Deputy Director Information Management Plans & Defence Web Administrator,
Information Management Branch, Department of Defence, e-mail:
Copyright notice from the paper edition (October 1995): Prepared By The IESC's Electronic Data Management Subcommittee
Copyright (c) Commonwealth of Australia 1995
ISBN 0 644 35724 X
This work is copyright. Apart from any use which is permitted under the
Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without the
written permission of the Executive Director, Office of Government Information
Technology, East Wing, Old Parliament House, Parkes ACT 2600.
Any enquiries should be directed to:
Office of Government Information Technology
PO Box E437
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Ph: +61 6 271 4832
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The increasing penetration of computer networks into government agencies means
that more and more essential documents are not only being created and stored on
computers, but are being transmitted electronically within and between
agencies, thus spending their entire lifetime in electronic form.
Traditional records management techniques have been addressed largely at the
management of paper files. It is now time for these techniques to be extended
to the management of electronic documents, otherwise we risk the loss of
valuable corporate memory through the inaccessibility or inadvertent
destruction of valuable documents, and the confusion of the corporate record
through the unnecessary retention of non-essential documents.
These guidelines outline the issues to be addressed in introducing an
electronic document management system into an agency, combining records
management principles with practical advice on the implementation of the
necessary records management procedures and information technology support.
Concerns are being expressed throughout government administration that the
corporate foundation of information is being diffused. This is happening with
the proliferation of computers and their associated networks without adequate
control mechanisms to ensure the availability of information to all who may
have a reasonable need for it.
Fully effective management of electronic documents requires consideration of an
agency's total information environment. No single medium now holds all the
documents relating to an agency's business activities. All sources should be
managed in a coordinated way, in a manner appropriate to their environment, in
order to preserve and provide access to business documents.
Electronic document management systems are more than just systems for tracking
the location of electronic documents. Such systems should manage documents for
their complete life cycle based on the value of the document to the agency's
business. Just as there are standard procedures for the registration of paper
documents and records, suitable procedures should be implemented to manage each
electronic document throughout its life from creation to disposal.
The introduction of a new document management system should be done in two
There are three basic strategies for dealing with electronic documents.
- a review of document management in the organisation should be conducted,
addressing current practices and future needs, leading to the recommendation of
a document management strategy for the organisation; and
- that strategy should then be implemented through an organised
implementation project, which should select appropriate document management
software (if the strategy requires it) and put the new document management
procedures into place.
Whatever strategy is adopted, the document management system must:
- fully electronic document management;
- parallel electronic and paper systems; and
- continued reliance on paper.
Once the software and procedures for an electronic document management system
are in place, it will require on-going operational support in order for it to
work. This support comes from four main sources:
- provide adequate context information for documents;
- provide means to prove the authenticity of documents used as
- provide for the disposal of records in conformance with the Archives
- be robust against organisational or technological change;
- provide levels of support for different types of document that accord
with agency policy; and
- provide links between paper and electronic documents.
These guidelines are intended for senior managers and information and records
managers confronted with the task of implementing effective systems for the
management of electronic documents. They are a guide, they are not mandatory
requirements or standards. Although the guidelines have been produced primarily
for Commonwealth agency information and records managers, the basic principles
can be applied in any organisation that maintains documents in an electronic
- The business managers, who are responsible for managing the business
activities of the agency. Their role is to ensure that staff are aware of and
adhere to the prescribed document management procedures, and to provide input
and advice to facilitate the evolution and improvement of these procedures.
- The records manager, who is responsible for seeing that appropriate
file management, records and document registration and disposal procedures are
in place, initiating reviews of records retention as required, and for
classifying and indexing documents and records to facilitate their retrieval.
- The information technology manager who is responsible for the provision
of the IT service, including the document management software and hardware,
backup and recovery services, and automated alerts, migration and disposals,
and for seeing that the procedures relevant to these functions are properly
documented and carried out.
- Individuals, who are responsible for ensuring that they know about and
use the available document management facilities.
The guidelines are structured in three parts:
- Part I discusses the principles of document management, and the
processes needed to introduce a system to manage electronic documents;
- Part II outlines the different roles and responsibilities of management
and staff in introducing and managing such a system; and
- Part III contains two case studies of management of electronic
The appendices contain reference information relevant to the issues discussed
in the body of the guidelines.
Next: Part 1 - Principle and Strategies
Copyright (c) Commonwealth of Australia