Newsletter 3 - March 2010

Information Management Consulting and Training


COR Concepts provides Information Governance, Records Management and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) consulting and training services.  The company is built on the belief that any Information, Records or Document Management initiative should be designed to extract the maximum business benefit for the organization. 

We bring together Compliance, Risk Management and Operational information requirements in a way that delivers benefits to each one of these diverse business units.  Our approach is to use an array of industry standards and best practice methodologies to ensure that each implementation will stand the test of time.

We see information governance and records management as an integral part of any Enterprise Content Management implementation and focus on building a solid platform including a records management policy, records management procedures, file plans and a solid change management infrastructure.  Building and implementing governance structures is becoming essential for success and we design structures to ensure that all governance aspects are included.



Document Management

COR Concepts is a specialist Document Management Company.


Courses are run at leading conference facilities or on your premises


We provide a range of consulting services in all aspects of Information Governance


Our staff provides the expertise and hand-holding on an on-going basis

This is the newsletter for the records management forum.    Thanks to everyone who provided content for this edition.  This month we profile an interesting character who most of you have heard of, and I am especially pleased to showcase our first case study. 

As always, remember that the real value of the forum lies in your participation, so log-on and start asking some challenging questions. 

If by any chance you are receiving this and aren’t a member of the forum, then please register at 


1       Who’s who in the industry 

This month we profile someone who has been in the industry for a long time and is one of the most highly qualified records managers in the country.  For the few of you haven’t met Vaughan Spooner, here he is, in his own words .....

Having started at the Cape City Council on the electrification of Mitchells Plain, I then worked on the Groote Schuur Hospital re-development and was eventually forced by financial circumstances to do something different. Like most practitioners I fell into records management when I successfully applied for a position at Koeberg Nuclear Power Station in 1982 to set-up and run their records and drawings management systems, in conjunction with an American RM consultant. That lasted some 5 years and also included working in a Contract Administration function.

Left in 1989 to head up Documentation Centre position at Mossgas (now PetroSA) which included responsibilities for document & records management, procedures, library and reprographics. My tenure had stints in business process improvement, knowledge management and asset disposal.

Took a retrenchment package in 2002 and joined Murray & Roberts Engineering Solutions as a RIM consultant doing work on projects (PBMR, MOZAL, De Beers, etc) and in the corporate environment (process improvement, retention scheduling, knowledge management, etc). I am now seconded to the Gautrain Rapid Rail Project as the Turn Key Contractors Information Manager.

Along the way I did a certified records management program with the Institute of Certified Records Managers USA, ran the South African Institute of Information Management for a couple of years and was an “ambassador” for ARMA International.

I do not profess to know everything about RIM, as every day is a learning opportunity, but I have more than a couple of scars to show for my experiences.

I am very passionate about records & information management and I detest the arrogance amongst many of the so-called practitioners who despite lofty titles and positions have brought very little to the function and industry so far.


 2       Local case studies (the state of records management)

 Rand Water Board

Rand Water supplies water in South Africa. It offers various services, such as municipal services, water cycle management services, pipeline protection services, water supply services, community support services, and scientific services.  Most people in Gauteng are familiar with Rand Water, and the quality of the water delivered through its operations is very highly regarded.

In addition to the normal records that all organisations keep, Rand Water has to contend with a highly sophisticated technical drawing environment, ensuring that all drawings are kept securely, up to date, and accessible by those that require access.  Failure to do so could have serious implications if the water quality levels fell for any reason.

Rand Water has a long standing, well established records management infrastructure.  A few factors have contributed to their success, and our profiling them as a good example of records management practices.  Take a look at some of the things they have managed to do, and how we can learn from them:

·         The records management staff members have many years of experience and the records management positions are deeply entrenched in the culture of Rand Water. 

·         All staff know of the existence of the records management team, and have a reasonable idea of what the records management department does.

·         Constant reminders are sent to users about the records management unit.

·         Senior management supports them in their efforts and have even built a robust archive centre to house inactive records.

·         There is a strong working relationship and trust between IT and records management staff.  Both divisions report through the same channels to the board, hence they are both aiming for the same goals.

·         In addition to long-standing paper records infrastructure, they have implemented a Document and Records management system, in this case InfoSphere from FileNet, and are very committed to managing both paper and electronic records.

·         One of the striking aspects of the implementation is their creative use of file tracking.  In addition to barcoding all paper records that leave the records center, they have implemented a “stock take” process.  Twice a day records staff will go to all workstations and read the barcodes of the records in those offices.  As a result, at any stage, they know within 4 hours, where a physical record is.  If a record has been requested by a user, and then given to another staff member, this fact is immediately picked up.

Our congratulations to the team at Rand water, and we look forward to seeing more of their records management successes on these pages in future.

For more information contact Jannie Ferreira at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.           



3       Legislation,  governance and the impact on Records Management

 We have all by now heard something about King III.  But what is it, and how does it affect us?  This article takes a short look at some of the key components of King III and its impact on Records and Information management.

The full title is “KING CODE OF GOVERNANCE FOR SOUTH AFRICA – 2009; KING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNANCE”.   In the simplest terms, the King Code describes good Corporate Governance.  In even simpler terms, it tells organisations how to run their businesses properly.  It is not about how to do accounting, or marketing, or sales.   Rather it describes the things that the Directors of organisations must do to ensure the right things are done.  The principle of “Apply or explain” is adopted.  This means that the organisation MUST apply the code, unless it is against the best interests of the company, in which case this needs to be well explained and documented.  Importantly, the Board cannot “explain” away the requirement to comply with all laws that apply to the organisation.

And this is the first key implication for records management.  There are so many laws out there which contain retention requirements that apply to our businesses.  These MUST be complied with.  Yet it is striking how few organisations take the time to fully understand the regulatory universe, and then apply it diligently.

It is the responsibility of the Board to ensure that this takes place, and this means implementing structures and processes, checks and balances to enable directors to fulfil their legal responsibility.


Good governance requires sound risk prevention, and the internal audit must now take a risk approach.  As records managers, it is our responsibility to understand the risks that poorly managed records can bring, and ensure that the internal auditors are fully aware of these risks.  The records management programme should then be aligned to reduce and mitigate these risks.

I have just touched on some of the aspects.  There is much more, so if you would like the detail, give me a call, or post a question on the forum.


4       Stories from the international front

 E-Mail seems to be one of the hardest types of record to manage.   Take a look at this story from the US Government who spend $71 billion per year on IT, yet they cannot manage their e-mails well as records.  Give us hope ....

Our thanks to ESARBICA for distributing this article.


5       How to do Records management

 Here are some simple things to consider when developing a file plan, courtesy of the National Archivesand Records Service of SA.



The fundamental requirement for filing documents is that they should be grouped together in such a manner that those requiring to be read together should in fact be filed together. Therefore all documents concerning a certain matter should be filed together so that the background of the matter may be established with the greatest certainty and the least possible loss of time.


The basic requirements with which a good file plan must comply, are that it:

- must be logical and consistent;

- must be flexible; and

- should be as simple as possible.


By logical and consistent is meant that the file plan should be arranged logically and not merely compiled without purpose or sense. When a particular method of arrangement has been decided upon, it must be adhered to consistently and deviations should not occur without sound reasons. It implies that the file plan should be such that anyone and not only the compilers, must be able to understand and apply it as soon as the principles on which it is based have been grasped.


The file plan must be flexible so that any further additions can be introduced in the future without disturbing the original pattern and without requiring major amendments to the file plan itself. Obviously, in compiling a file plan provision can be made for files only expected to be required. No file plan remains static and provision must therefore be made for later additions. It should be possible to make additions as though they were known at the time when the file plan was drawn up, in other words, at the place where provision would have been made if their necessity had existed when the file plan was compiled. This is ensured by the use of so-called "umbrella headings" and by applying the correct method of numbering, as will be explained later.


The file plan should be as simple as possible, that is to say, it should not be made complicated without rhyme or reason. Preference should always be given to the simple method rather than the complicated one, where both may achieve the same object. This does not mean that the basic principles, e.g. the flexibility of the file plan, should be abandoned for the sake of simplicity. A subject file plan is never so simple that it may be applied automatically or without being approached intelligently. For example, continual decisions have to be taken on the correct placement of documents, i.e. whether they should be placed on existing files, if so, on which, or whether any particular document should be the first on a new file.


 6       Records Management standards

 If you are looking to implement a sound document and records management programme, and need best practice, look no further than the standards.  Here is the first one you should know about:

ISO 15489 – Records Management.  This standard has 2 parts, part 1 being the standard itself, and part 2 being more detailed guidelines.  Unfortunately the standard isn’t really written in easy to implement terms and covers a great deal of things. 

At the core of the standard is a process for implementation.  The diagram below is a high level overview of the steps that should be taken.  This is a very useful diagram but remember that the detail lies in the body of the standard.

If you are a private sector organisation looking to implement a records management programme, start with ISO 15489.


7       Did you know?

 With less than 20 per cent of the world’s population currently online (in 2009), the amount of digital information doubles every 18 months. According to industry analyst firm IDC, 988 exabytes of data are added annually to the digital universe, about 18m times the information in all the books ever written.


8       Tips and tricks: How to get the most out of the forum

The first thing you need to know is how to create a post ....

There are two primary ways to create a post.  In the View Forum and View Topic pages, you may click New Topic.  This will take you to the posting form, and, when you have posted, will create a new topic with your post as the first one in the topic.  In the View Topic page, you may also click Reply.  This will take you to the posting form, and, when you have posted, it will add your post to the topic you replied to.  To reply to a specific post, you may also click the Quote button in the upper right corner of that post. 

When you post a new topic or post a reply, you are taken to the posting form, where to enter your post. 

Subject - The subject of your post.  If this is a new post, the subject is required, and it will be the name of the topic.  If the post is replying to another post, the subject is not required, but may be added, and will be shown at the top of the post.

Message Body - The Message body is a large text area where the body of your post is input.  Plain text is the only thing allowed in this text area, but special formatting, links, smilies (emoticons), images, etc. may be added through the use of Smilies, BBCode and/or HTML (if they are enabled).


9       The debate hots up

 Vaughan (mosvms) has been a busy lad this month.  Not only does he have the privilege of being our first profiled records management practitioner, but he also laid down a challenge to all and sundry regarding their opinions on EDRMS or ECM systems.  He sent this to me personally – so from his hand to you .....

Good Day,
You may be interested to know that a "conversation" has been started on SharePoint versus everything else in the Electronic Document and Records Management (EDRMS) section of the Blog.

Practically every single person I meet is struggling with some form of technology versus technology (SAP versus LiveLink or LiveLink versus SharePoint) and in order to share knowledge we would like this thread to grow and grow. The funny thing is that most large companies, including GOV, only think they are in business to provide/sell a product or a service. However, in reality they are in the business of systems. For example, in my own project we have 5 different systems that ultimately require uniformity and believe me when I say there is none - everybody does his own thing at the expense of the rest. One of the key learnings identified for future projects was one doc management system, in addition to one process and one project function - first time in many years and projects that I have experienced 60 to 70 doc control staff all in one local geographical location

Anybody is quite welcome to contribute and we welcome views and experiences and problems!

Take Vaughan up on the challenge and add your comments.  No-one will take it personally (I hope), but we would like to see what everyone thinks about this issue.  Of course, you can access this discussion at


10  Comments section: What would you like us to include in the newsletter?

Remember, the forum is for you.  And you!  So please remember to send us comments and tell us what you would like to see in the newsletter, and any new topics that you would want to see in the forum, but are too shy to ask.   You are always welcome to send a Personal Message (PM) to “admin” in the forum and tell him what you think.  And of course, when you like what we do, please don’t hesitate to tell us.  There are real people behind the forum engine, and we love feedback.


11 And lastly a bit of admin

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