The following publication represents the IF4IT recommendation for Records Management (RM) File Plan Attributes. These attributes can be used by a Records Management Organization (RMO) for controlling File Plans that represent individual or grouped sets of Record Types, either in a system (i.e. File Plans as individual data records) or they can be used to control and structure sections of more traditional File Plan documents (i.e. File Plans as raw documents).
Benefits of Using IF4IT File Plan Attributes
Leveraging the IF4IT’s File Plan Attributes affords the following benefits…
- You get to leverage others’ pre-existing work and not start from scratch.
- You are ensured that the attributes you are using for your File Plans are the same or similar attributes that are being used by other experienced RM professionals and mature RM organizations.
- You have a reference-able/cite-able set of attributes that are maintained by an authoritative source.
It should be noted that the following set of attributes represents a common baseline intended as a set of best practices and guidelines for reusability and extensibility. You can add, delete, or modify attributes to fit the needs of your own organization or customer, at will.
File Plan Attribute List
- File Plan Title
- File Plan Unique Identifier (ID)
- File Plan Abstract
- File Plan Description
- File Plan Publishing Organization
- File Plan Authors
- File Plan Version History
- File Plan Owner Organization
- File Plan Reviewer(s)
- File Plan Signature(s)
- File Plan Review Rules
- File Plan Type
- Record Type(s) Covered
- Record Type(s) State
- Record Type(s) Owner(s)
- Record Type(s) Owner(s) Contact Information
- Record Type(s) Custodian(s)
- Record Type(s) Custodian(s) Contact Information
- Custodian Location
- Storage and Archiving Rules
- Access Rules
- Sharing Rules
- Disposition Rules
File Plan Attribute Descriptions
File Plan Title: A short string that provides a semantically meaningful identification of the document. This could be replaced by or represent a unique Semantic Identifier if this represents a data record in a Records Management (RM) system, instead of a traditional document.
File Plan Unique Identifier (ID): A character string (usually alphanumeric) that uniques this File Plan document or record from all others.
File Plan Abstract: A short string description of what this File Plan represents or covers. It is usually a summary of the more detailed File Plan Description.
File Plan Description: A long string, possibly multiple paragraphs, that provides the reader with enough context about the File Plan that ensures he/she is dealing with the right File Plan. Note: Sometimes, enough information is provided in the naming and identification standards of the File Plan, rendering this attribute as having limited value. However, for more traditional documents, it does help.
File Plan Publishing Organization: (a.k.a. File Plan Authoring Organization) A string that lists the Publishing/Authoring organization or organizations.
File Plan Authors: A string that lists the name(s) of the person(s) who authored the File Plan.
File Plan Version History: A string that represents the version history of the File Plan data record or document. If in a raw File Plan document, this attribute might be represented as a table with individual revision dates, revisers, change descriptions, etc.
File Plan Owner Organization: A string that represents the name of the Organization that owns the File Plan for the covered Record Type(s).
File Plan Reviewer(s): A string (sometimes a table of strings) that captures the names of any people who were involved in the review of the File Plan.
File Plan Signature(s): A string (sometimes a table of strings) that captures any required signatures for the ratification of this File Plan. There should also be an attribute for capturing the Signature Date that is associated with each individual signature that is captured.
File Plan Review Rules: A long string that represents details for File Plan review (e.g. how often, who performs the reviews, how are reviews performed, are audits involved, etc.).
File Plan Type: This attribute is intended to be a string value that tells the reader if the File Plan is a Standard File Plan, which covers only one Record Type or if it is a Broad Spectrum File Plan, which covers multiple different Record Types.
Record Type(s) Covered: A string that covers the Record Types that the File Plan covers.
Record Type(s) State: A string that represents the current state of the Record Type(s) covered in the File Plan. States can be values such as but not limited to:
- Legal Hold (making it clear to the reader that the Record Types are currently under legal hold because of situations like pending or future litigation, regulatory audits, etc.)
- Operational (making it clear to the reader that the Record Types are in state of normal day-to-day operations and may be changing.
- Archived (making it clear to the reader that the Record Types are in a formally archived state and must be retrieved through appropriate processes)
- Disposal Staging (making it clear to the reader that the Record Type(s) handled by this document is/are in a state before full disposal)
- Disposed (making it clear to the reader that this File Plan covers Record Types that are no longer in possession of the enterprise)
Note: This attribute is usually far easier to maintain in a system, where this File Plan document is structured as a data record instead of a raw document. Unless you have a small number or records to govern, it becomes difficult to constantly update and maintain states in raw documents.
Record Type(s) Owner(s): A string that represents the Owner(s) (i.e. people) associated with the Record Type(s) covered in the File Plan.
Record Type(s) Owner(s) Contact Information: A string that represents the Owner of the Record Type(s) that are covered by this File Plan. This is useful so that people reading the File Plan can reach out to one or more people who can help with deeper details about the Record Type(s) covered.
Record Type(s) Custodian(s): A string that represents the one or more persons accountable for where the individual Record Instances (of the covered Record Types) are held at any point during their life cycles.
Record Type(s) Custodian(s) Contact Information: A string that describes the Record Type(s) [more than one if it is a Broad Spectrum File Plan] that is/are covered by this File Plan.
Custodian Location(s): One or more physical locations (in the case of paper records) or one or more systems/applications (in the case of digital records) that is/are intended to hold Records for the Record Types covered by this File Plan.
Storage and Archiving Rules: A string that describes how Records for the Record Type(s) covered in the File Plan must be stored and archived. For example, how Records must be stored and/or archived, when they must be stored and/or archived, who does the storing and/or archiving, etc. This string can be in the form of multiple paragraphs or can be a section of sub-attributes that pertain to the broader category of Storage and Archiving Rules.
Access Rules: A string that describes any rules and/or regulations for accessing the Record Type(s) covered by the File Plan. For example, how Records must be accessed, when they can be accessed, who can access them, etc. This string can be in the form of multiple paragraphs or can be a section of sub-attributes that pertain to the broader category of Access Rules.
Sharing Rules: This attribute is a string that describes what the sharing rules are for the Record Type(s) covered in the File Plan. For example, certain Record Types might have security levels and Need-to-Know constraints associated with them. Or, certain Record Types might require hand-to-hand hand-offs, from custodian to the person retrieving the records, with face-to-face signatures for authenticated tracking of Record Instances.
Disposition Rules: A string based section that describes the how, when, where, who, what, and why of disposal for the covered Record Type(s). Note: This section can be further broken down into more details if tracking this information in a system and this information is part of a File Plan Record.
Appendices: Used for any supporting data and/or information.
The Benefits of standard attributes for your File Plans
- More comprehensive File Plans for your enterprise.
- File Plans can be managed in systems, where every File Plan is a data record/instance.
- Better Search Results. The more attributes you have, the more metadata you have. This gives Search Engines more of the fuel they need to return more accurate search results.
- More robust indexing. A wider variety of standard attributes make it easier to index your File Plans many different ways.
Alignment with the IF4IT Records Management Control Grid
The File Plan attributes described in this publication have been added to and align with those attributes found in the Records Management Control Grid (RMCG), which goes beyond just File Plan data.
You can download the Records Management Control Grid (RMCG). Note: You must be logged into the IF4IT site to do so.
- Read about the Records Management Command, Communications, and Control (RM Control Grid)
- Understanding Record Categories and Types
- Using a Steering Committee for Records Management Ownership
- Broad Spectrum File Plans for easier and more comprehensive Records Management
- Understanding Legal Hold
- Implementation Patterns for Records Management Command, Control, and Communications (C3)