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ICA - Principles

ICA - Principles

NEN-ISO 16175

Information and documentation - Principles and  functional requirements for records in electronic  office environments;
Part 1: Overview and  statement of principles
Part2: Guidelines and  functional requirements for digital records  management systems
Part3: Guidelines and functional requirements for records in business  systems,

Nederlands Normalisatie Instituut, Delft, 2011.


  • Principles and Functional Requirements for Records in Electronic Office Environments; Module 1: Overview and Statement of Principles, International Council on Archives, Parijs, 2008.
    Contributor: Joint project team formed by members of the ICA and the Australiasian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative
    ISBN nummer: 978-2-918004-00-4
  • Principles and Functional Requirements for Records in Electronic Office Environments; Module 2: Guidelines and Functional Requirements for Electronic Records Management Systems, International Council on Archives, Parijs, 2008.
  • Principles and Functional Requirements for Records in Electronic Office Environments; Module 3: Guidelines and Functional Requirements for Records in Business Systems,  International Council on Archives, Parijs, 2008.
Click one of the letters above to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.



The right, opportunity, means of finding, using or retrieving information.

Access controls

A scheme of non-hierarchical mechanisms, which may be applied to electronic records to prevent access by unauthorised users.

  • May include the definition of user access groups and ad hoc lists of individual named users.

The principle that individuals, organisations and the community are required to account to others for their actions.

  • Organisations and their employees must be able to account to appropriate regulatory authorities, to shareholders or members, and to the public to meet statutory obligations, auditrequirements, relevant standards and codes of practice, and community expectations.
Action tracking

The process in which time limits for actions are monitored and imposed on those conducting the business.


The second level of a business classification scheme.

  • Activities are the major tasks performed by an organisation to accomplish each of its functions.
  • An activity is identified by the name it is given and its scope note.
  • The scope of the activity encompasses all the transactions that take placein relation to it.
  • Depending on the nature of the transactions involved, an activity may be performed in relation to one function, or it may be performed in relation to many functions.

Records should be adequate for the purposes for which they are kept.

  • Thus, a major initiative will be extensively documented, while a routine administrative action can be documented with an identifiable minimum of information.
  • There should be adequate evidence of the conduct of business activity to be able to account for that conduct.

A role responsible for the day-to-day operation of the corporate records management policy within an organisation.

  • May also indicate responsibility for operation of the corporate records management system.

Any accumulation of record entities at a level above record object (document, digital object), for example, digital folder, series.


An application program(ming) interface is the specific method prescribed by a computer operating system or application program so that the application program can make requests of the operating system or another application.


The process of evaluating business activities to determine which records need to be captured and how long the records need to be kept, to meet business needs, the requirements of organisational accountability and community expectations.

Archival authority

The archival agency, archival institution, archival program agency or program responsible for selecting, acquiring and preserving archives, making them available and approving destruction of other records


The whole body of records of continuing value of an organisation or individual. Sometimes called ‘corporate memory’.


Materials created or received by a person, family or organisation, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs and preserved because of the enduring value contained in them or as evidence of the functions and responsibilities of their creator, especially those materials maintained using the principles of provenance, original order and collective control; permanent records.

Note: This definition differs to the IT sphere where it refers to ‘a copy of one or more files or a copy of a database that is saved for future reference or for recovery purposes in case the original data is damaged or lost.’

Audit trail

Data that allows the reconstruction of a previous activity, or which enables attributes of a change (such as date, time, operator) to be stored so that a sequence of events can be determined in the correct chronological order.

  • Usually in the form of a database or one or more lists of activity data.

The process of testing an assertion in order to establish a level of confidence in the assertion’s reliability.

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Business activity

An umbrella term covering all the functions, processes, activities and transactions of an organisation and its employees.

  • Includes public administration as well as commercial business.
Business case

A structured proposal for business improvement that functions as a decision package for organisational decision-makers.

  • Includes an analysis of business process performance and associated needs or problems, proposed alternative solutions, assumptions, constraints and a risk-adjusted cost-benefitanalysis.
Business classification scheme
  1. A conceptual representation of the functions and activities performed by an organisation. The scheme is a taxonomy derived from the analysis of business activity.
  2. The basis from which classification tools, such as a functions thesaurus and records classification scheme, are developed.
Business system

An automated system that creates or manages data about an organisation’s activities.

  • Includes applications whose primary purpose is to facilitate transactions between an organisational unit and its customers - for example, an e-commerce system, client relationship management system, purpose-built or customised database, finance or human resources systems.
  • Business systems are typified by containing dynamic data that is commonly subject to constant updates (timely), able to be transformed (manipulable) and holds current data (non-redundant).
Business system administrator

A user role with designated responsibility for the operation of the system, including configuring, monitoring and managing the business system and its use.

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The process of lodging a document or digital object into a records management system and assigning metadata to describe the record and place it in context, thus allowing the appropriate management of the record over time.

  • For certain business activities this functionality may be built into business systems so that the capture of records and associated metadata is concurrent with the creation of records.
Certififcation authority

A body that generates, signs and issues public key certificates that bind subscribers to their public key.

  1. The systematic identification and arrangement of business activities and/or records into categories according to logically structured conventions, methods and procedural rules represented in a classification system.
  2. Classification includes determining document or file naming conventions, userpermissions and security restrictions on records.

Constituent parts that comprise an electronic record (such as the multimedia components of a web page).

  • It is necessary to capture metadata about components to enable a record to be managed over time, for example, for migration purposes.
  • This is not to be confused with the concept of a ‘software’ or ‘system’ component.
Compound record

A record that comprises multiple individual components. For example, web pages with embedded graphics and style sheets.


The physical and/or intellectual management established over records by documenting information about their physical and logical state, their content, their provenance and their relationships with other records. The systems and processes associated with establishing control include registration, classification, indexing and tracking.

Controlled vocabulary

An alphabetical list containing terms or headings that are authorised or controlled so that only one heading or form of heading is allowed to represent a particular concept or name.


The process of changing records from one medium to another or from one format to another.

  • Conversion involves a change of the format of the record but ensures that the record retains the identical primary information (content).
Cryptographic key

Data elements used for the encryption or decryption of electronic messages.

  • They consist of a sequence of symbols that control the operation of a cryptographic transformation, such as encipherment.

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Facts or instructions represented in a formalised manner, suitable for transmission, interpretation or processing manually or automatically.

Data Element

A logical, identifiable unit of data that forms the basic organisational component in a database.

  • Usually a combination of characters or bytes referring to one separate piece of information.
  • A data element may combine with one or more other data elements or digital objects to form an electronic record.

An organised collection of related data.

Databases are usuallyser access and retrieval of information. Databases may exist in physical or digital format.


The process of removing, erasing or obliterating recorded information from a medium outside the disposition process.
Deletion within electronic systems generally refers to the removal of the pointer (for example, location information) that allows the system to identify where a particular piece of data is stored on the medium


A non-hierarchical qualifier (for example, ‘Personnel’) attached to a security category to limit access to particular records.
Descriptors may be informative or advisory but cannot actively control access.

  1. The process of eliminating or deleting records beyond any possible reconstruction.
  2. In this document, destruction refers to a disposition process, whereby electronic records, record plan entities and their metadata are permanently removed, erased or obliterated as authorised and approved by a disposition authority schedule.
Digital certificate

An electronic document signed by the certification authority which identifies a key holder and the business entity they represent; binds the key holder to a key pair by specifying the public key of that key pair; and should contain any other information required by the certificate profile.

Digital file

A set of related digital records held in a tightly bound relationship within the business system and managed as a single object.
A type of aggregation of digital records. May also be referred to as a ‘container’.

Digital folder

A set of related electronic records held in a tightly bound relationship within the business system and managed as a single object.
A type of aggregation of electronic records. May also be referred to as a container

Digital object

An object that can be represented by a computer, such as a file type generated by a particular system or software application (for example, a word-processed document, a spreadsheet, an image).
An electronic record may comprise one or more digital objects.

Digital signature

A security mechanism included within an electronic record that enables the identification of the creator of the digital object and that can also be used to detect and track any changes that have been made to the digital object.

Digital watermark

A complex visible or invisible pattern denoting provenance or ownership information.

  • A watermark may be superimposed on a digital image and can only be removed by use of an algorithm and a secure key.
  • Similar technologies may be applied to digitised sound and moving picture records.

A range of processes associated with implementing retention, destruction or transfer decisions that are documented in disposition or other instruments.

Disposition action

The action noted in a disposition authority indicating the minimum retention period for a record and the event from which the disposition date should be calculated.

Disposition Authority

A formal instrument that defines the retention periods and consequent disposition actions authorised for classes of records described in the authority.

Disposition class

A description of the characteristics of a group of records documenting similar activities, together with a disposition action to be applied to the group.
The description consists of function and activity terms, and scope notes, record description and disposition action.
A component of a disposition authority, implemented within a business system as a set of rules made up of a disposition trigger, a retention period and a disposition action, which may be applied to a record plan entity.

Disposition trigger

The point from which the disposition action is calculated.
This can be a date on which action is completed or a date on which an event occurs.


Recorded information or an object that can be treated as a unit.

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An electronic records management system capable of providing
document management functionality.

Electronic message

Any communication using an electronic system for the conduct of official business internally, between organisations, or with the outside world. Common examples include email, instant messaging and SMS (short messaging services).

Electronic messaging system

Applications used by organisations or individuals for sending and receiving, as well as storing and retrieving, electronic messages.
These systems generally do not possess records management functionality.

Electronic record

Records on electronic storage media, produced, communicated, maintained and/or accessed by means of electronic equipment.


The process of converting data into a secure code through the use of an encryption algorithm for transmission over a public network.

  • The mathematical key to the encryption algorithm is encoded and transmitted with the data, thus providing the means by which the ed at the receiving end and the original data.

In IT, the term end-user is used to distinguish the person for whom a hardware or software product is designed from the developers, installers and servicers of the product.


Specialised software used to automate the management of records.


An automated system used to manage the creation, use, maintenance and disposition of electronically created records for the purposes of providing evidence of business activities.

  • These systems maintain appropriate contextual information (metadata) ecords to support their valueas evidence.
  • The an electronic records management system is anagement of electronic records.

Proof of a business transaction.


A disposition process whereby copies of an electronic record (or group of records) are passed with their metadata from one system to another system, either within the organisation or elsewhere.
Export does not involve removing records from the first system.


A copy of an electronic record from which some material has been removed or permanently masked. An extract is made when the full record cannot be released for access, but part of the record can.

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A set of one or more related data elements that represent a category of information within a database.

  1. (noun) An organised unit of documents accumulated during current use and kept together because they deal with the same subject, activity or transaction.
  2. (verb) The action of placing documents in a predetermined location according to a scheme of control.

The state or quality of being fixed.


An aggregation of records represented in a business system and allocated to a records category within the records classification scheme.
A folder is constituted of metadata that may be inherited from the parent (records category) and passed on to a child (record).


The physical form (such as paper or microfilm) or computer file format in which a record is maintained.

  1. The first level of a business classification scheme. Functions represent the major responsibilities that are managed by the organisation to fulfil its goals.
  2. Rhe largest unit of business activity in an organisation or jurisdiction.

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Graphical user interface

A graphical, rather than purely textual, user interface to a computer (for example, windows-style interface).

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Human factors

The study of how humans behave physically and psychologically in relation to particular environments, products or services. In a typical human factors or usability study, a group of hired or volunteer test subjects that represent future end-users is given tasks to do with a working prototype or early version of a product.

Hybrid file

A set of related digital files and physical files. Both files are held in a tightly bound relationship within the business system and managed as a single object.
Records managed within a hybrid file deal with the same subject, activity or transaction.

Hybrid record
  1. A set of related digital and physical components that are linked by metadata in a tightly bound relationship and managed as a single record.
  2. A record consisting of electronic and non-electronic components.

The electronic record and its associated records management metadata is maintained within the electronic records management system together with the records management metadata relating to the non-electronic record.

Hybrid recordkeeping system

A recordkeeping system containing a combination of paper, electronic or other formats.

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The act of giving a record or file a unique identity to provide evidence that it was created or captured. Identification involves recording brief descriptive information about the context of the record and its relation to other records.


To receive electronic records and associated metadata into one system from another, either within the organisation or elsewhere.


The process of establishing access points to facilitate retrieval of records and/or information.


Knowledge communicated or received.
The result of processing, gathering, manipulating and organising data in a way that adds to the knowledge of the receiver.

Information technology

A term that encompasses all forms of technology used to create, store, exchange and use information in its various forms (business data, voice conversations, still images, motion pictures, multimedia presentations and other forms, including those not yet conceived).


To take on a metadata attribute from a parent entity.


An occurrence of an electronic record in a particular format or at a particular point in time.

For example, one instance of a record may be in its native format while another instance is a rendition. Instances may be created as a product of migration or conversion processes.


A tightly bound relationship between the business system and another application or mechanism.
Integration implies data being shared between systems, a common look and feel that suggests a single application.


A mechanism whereby data can be exchanged between

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A metadata profile of a record physically held outside the business system.

  • A marker may denote a physical record (such as a large bound volume or building plan) or an electronic record stored on removable media (such as a CD-ROM or video).
  • A representational link to a relevant record within theelectronic records management system to alert users to the existence of a relevant record that is required to be accessible in more than one location.
  • Note: A paper file will usually be represented and managed in the business system as a physical file. It is not envisaged that a physical file would contain markers for each document or record placed on a paper file, unless specifically required to do so in order to meet a particular business requirement of the organisation. This may also be referred to as an electronic records management system specific term.

Structured or semi-structured information, which enables the creation, management and use of records through time and within and across domains.


Structured information that describes and/or allows users to find, manage, control, understand or preserve other information over time.


The act of moving records from one system to another, while maintaining the records’ authenticity, integrity, reliability and useability.

  • Migration involves a set of organised tasks designed to periodically transfer digital material from one hardware or software configuration to another, or from one generation of technology to another.

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Native format

The format in which the record was created, or in which the originating application stores records.

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Physical file

An entry in the record plan for a hardcopy (usually paper) file.

  • The file itself is stored outside the business system but metadata about its location and management is maintained in the system.
  • A physical file may stand on its own within the records classification scheme, or it may form part ofa hybrid file of closely related digital and physical objects.
Physical record

A record in hardcopy form, such as a folio, paper file, bound volume, photograph, microfilm, audio recording or moving image recording.

Pilot project

An experimental initiative lasting for a limited time, the results of which are systematically evaluated.

Proprietary software

Software that is owned exclusively by a single company that carefully guards knowledge about the technology or the product’s inner workings.

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Quality records

Records used to demonstrate conformance to specified requirements and effective operation of quality systems under the AS/NZS ISO 9000 series.

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Information in any format created, received and maintained as evidence and information by an organisation or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business.

Record Category

A subdivision of the records classification scheme, which may be further subdivided into one or more lower-level record categories.

  • A record category is constituted of metadata that may be inherited from the parent (for example, records category) and passed on to a child (for example, folder or aggregation of electronic records).
  • The full set of record categories, at all levels, together constitutes the records classification scheme.
Record keeping

The making and maintaining of complete, accurate and reliable evidence of business transactions in the form of recorded information.
Recordkeeping includes the creation of records in the course of business activity and the means to ensure the creation of adequate records; the design, establishment and operation of recordkeeping systems; and the management of records used in business (traditionally regarded as the domain of records management) and as archives (traditionally regarded as the domain of archives administration).

Record metadata

Identifies, authenticates and contextualises records and the people, processes and systems that create, manage, maintain and use them and the policies that govern them.

Record type

Definition of a record object that specifies particular management requirements, metadata attributes and forms of behaviour.

  • A default record type is the norm. Specific record types are deviations from the norm, which allow an organisation to meet regulatory requirements (such as privacy or datamatching) for particular groups of records.
Records classification tool

A device or method used to assist in classifying, titling, accessing, controlling and retrieving records.

  • May include a records classification scheme, thesaurus, indexing scheme or controlled vocabulary.
Records classificationscheme

A hierarchical classification tool that, when applied to a business system, can facilitate the capture, titling, retrieval, maintenance and disposition of records.

  • A records classification scheme stems from an organisation’s business classification scheme.
Records continuum

The whole extent of a record’s existence.

  • Refers to a consistent and coherent regime of management processes from the time of the creation of records (and before creation, in the design of recordkeeping systems), through to the preservation and use of records as archives.
Records Management

The field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of, and information about, business activities and transactions in the form of records.

Records Management Systeem

A framework to capture, maintain and provide access to evidence over time, as required by the jurisdiction in which it is implemented and in accordance with common business practices.

  • Recordkeeping systems include
    • both records practitioners and records users;
    • a set of authorised policies, assigned responsibilities, delegations of authority, procedures and practices;
    • policy statements, procedures manuals, user guidelines and other documents which are used to authorise and promulgate the policies, procedures and practices;
    • the records themselves;
    • specialised information and records systems used to control the records; and
    • software, hardware and other equipment, and stationery.
Records managementmetadata

Identifies, authenticates and contextualises records and the people, processes and systems that create, manage, maintain and use them, and the policies that govern them.


The process of masking or deleting information in a record.


To create a copy with a format or structure different from the original, especially for preservation or access.


The act of giving a record or file a unique identity in a recordkeeping system to provide evidence that it was created or captured.

  • Registration involves recording brief descriptive information about the context of the record and its relation to other records.
  • In the archival context, both aggregations (such as series) and individual record items can be registered.
Relational database

A collection of data elements organised as a set of formally described tables from which data can be accessed and reassembled in many different ways without having to reorganise the database tables.


The production of a human-readable representation of a record, usually to a visual display screen or in hardcopy.


Instance of an electronic record made available in another format or on a different medium by a process entirely within the business system control, without loss of content.

  • A rendition should display the same metadata and be managed in a tightly bound relationship with the native format record.
  • Renditions may be required for preservation, access and viewing purposes.
Retention Period

The length of time after the disposition trigger that a record mustbe maintained and accessible.

  • At the expiration of the retentionmay be subject to a disposition action.

For a given use of money in an enterprise, the return on investment is how much profit or cost saving is realised.

  • A return on investment calculation is sometimes used along with other approaches to develop a business case for a given proposal.

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Security category

Hierarchical designation (such as ‘Top secret’ or ‘Protected’) allocated to a user, user role, electronic record or other record plan entity to indicate the level of access allowed.

  • The security category reflects the level of protection that must be applied during use, storage, transmission, transfer and disposal of the record.
Security classification system

A set of procedures for identifying and protecting official information, the disclosure of which could have adverse consequences.

  • The security classification system is implemented by assigning markings that show the value of the information and indicate the minimum level of protection it must be afforded.
Security controls

A scheme of protective markings that may be allocated to users, electronic records and record plan entities to restrict access.

  • May include a hierarchical security category, possibly in conjunction with a non-hierarchical qualifier.
System access control

Any mechanism used to prevent access to the business system by unauthorised users.

  • May include the definition of user profiles, or the use of ID and password login.
System rules

Policies internal to system software that may be established and/or configured by a business system administrator in order to govern the functionality of a given system and determine the nature of operational processes applied by that system.

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A set of one or more related database fields, each comprising related data elements. One or more tables may combine to form a database.

  1. The classification of entities in an ordered system that indicates natural relationships.
  2. The science, laws and principles of classification.

Creating, capturing and maintaining information about the movement and uses of records.


The smallest unit of business activity. Uses of records are themselves transactions.

  • The third level in a business classification scheme.

Moving records from one location to another.


A disposition process, consisting of a confirmed export of digital records and associated metadata, and where applicable aggregations of digital records, followed by their destruction within the exporting business system.

  • Records may be transferred from one organisation to another following administrative change, from an organisation to archival custody, from an organisation to a service provider, from the government to the private sector or from one government to another.

A disposition process, consisting of a confirmed export of electronic records and associated metadata, and where applicable aggregations of electronic records, followed by their destruction within the exporting business system.

  • Transfers occur from one organisation to another following administrative change, from an organisation to archival custody, from an organisation to a service provider, from the government to the private sector, or from one government to another.

Change of custody, ownership and/or responsibility for records.

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User access group

Discrete set of named individuals (users known to the business system) that makes up a stable and nameable group.

  • Access to particular records or other file plan entities may be restricted to members of certain user access groups.
User permissions

Privileges allocated to employees determining the extent of access to records and authority to author/originate, add, alter and dispose of records in recordkeeping system.

User profile

A summary of all attributes allocated to a user of the business system.

  • Includes all data known to the system, such as username, ID and password, security and access rights, functional access rights.
User role

An aggregation or standard set of business system functional permissions that may be granted to a pre-defined subset of system users.

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A sub-division of an electronic or non-electronic aggregation.

  • Also referred to as a ‘part’.
  • Usually a file part closed off due to size or time period constraints.

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