With the proliferation of digital data and endless different Record Types that fall into this category, Records Management (RM) professionals are running into a common problem. It is becoming impossible to design and maintain unique and individual File Plans for each and every unique Record Type that might be important to an enterprise’s RM program and its stakeholders. An option for dealing with this challenge are what are called Broad Spectrum File Plans.
The Traditional File Plan
The traditional method of dealing with File Plans is to have one individual File Plan for each critical Record Type that is deemed to be important to an enterprise and its RM program.
For small enterprises, this does not usually represent too much overhead. However, for very large enterprises, where there may be many tens of thousands of potential Record Types because the bulk of the organization uses massive quantities of digital data, managing endless quantities of unique and individual File Plans is just not an option. As a result, these enterprises often turn to Broad Spectrum File Plans to help solve this problem.
Read more about Understanding Record Types and Categories.
Broad Spectrum File Plans
The Broad Spectrum File Plan (BSFP) is a single File Plan that defines, applies, and covers file planning policies, standards, and best practices for many similar Record Types, simultaneously and in one common document. In other words, the Broad Spectrum File Plan is used to groups or groupings of similar Record Types.
In the case of a BSFP, the RM professional will create one single File Plan and then explicitly include or attach different Record Types to it. For example: BSFP(1) covers RT(A), RT(B), RT(C), … etc.
Note that the use of Broad Spectrum File Planning, as a concept, is not new. Smart Records Managers have been creating blanket policy File Plans for decades. However, the formal term Broad Spectrum File Plan is relatively new to the industry, its use appearing most frequently in the largest of the large enterprises.
Another interchangeable label for the Broad Spectrum File Plan, although less frequently used, is the Umbrella File Plan because of its intent to establish overarching solutions for file planning across multiple Record Types.
When to use Broad Spectrum File Plans
Broad Spectrum File Plans are best used when
- You can easily group similar Record Types together.
- You have so many Record Types that it becomes logistically impossible to create and manage separate File Plans for each of them.
When not to use Broad Spectrum File Plans
It is not recommended that you use BSFPs for the most critical of your Record Types or in those cases where a specific Record Type requires a custom and unique set of solutions for File Planning.
If, for example, a Record Type is highly regulated by government or industry, there is probably a good chance you should consider and may need an individual File Plan for it.
Examples of Broad Spectrum File Plan uses
Examples of BSFP uses include:
- Establishing Broad Spectrum File Plans for raw and unstructured general electronic/digital documents that may exist in many different document repositories, around the enterprise.
- Establishing Broad Spectrum File Plans for general Data Types / Record Types that exist as general digital data in many different enterprise systems (i.e. too many and not important enough to address individually).
- Establishing Broad Spectrum File Plans for classes of important Data Types / Record Types. For example, in the case of broad groups of digital data that contain Private Credit Information (PCI) or Private Identification Information (PII).
- Establishing Broad Spectrum File Plans for customer-facing content on tools such as public web sites or extranets.
Summary and Conclusions
A Broad Spectrum File Plan is a tool that might help you (the Records Management Professional) reduce the logistical overhead associated with creating and managing individual File Plans. Instead of having to create and manage individual File Plans for each Record Type, Broad Spectrum File Plans allow the RM professional to group similar Record Types, together, and apply common policies, standards, best practices, processes, and procedures to them. Consider using Broad Spectrum File Plans when you have large quantities of different Record Types and limited resources to address all of them.