How to keep it going?

Creating your archive from material which has built up over a long period takes up valuable time and resources. Moving forward you will need to integrate the archiving process into your general working practice by adding relevant materials to your archive as they are created. For new social enterprises, introducing an archiving process from the start means you will never have to go through the laborious sorting process. Good record keeping practice like this will benefit the organisation in many other ways.

  • It will ensure that records essential for legal and statutory purposes are kept safe
  • Key documents for business continuity will be kept safe so, if someone leaves or if there is a major disaster, information vital to the operation of the business is not lost
  • A good, consistent naming and filing structure will enable records to be easily found and reduce time spent looking for them
  • By only archiving the final or most up-to-date version it will provide a bank of definitive master documents from which copies can be made
  • By disposing of materials when they are no longer required, less storage space will be required
  • It will provide a bank of resources for putting together other documents such as funding applications, annual reports, and for strategy planning and decision making
  • The resources can be shared to the benefit of the organisation for marketing or events (this is covered more fully in the Share It section)
Integrating the archiving process into general working practice

Start by looking at the types of materials you will be adding to the archive and think about the processes involved in creating and using them. Identify a point in the life of each type of material when it will be appropriate to archive it and ensure that nothing is missed.

You may produce several drafts in the creation of a document but you will only archive the final version (master copy). For example, where changes to the minutes are agreed at a meeting, you would only keep the final approved minute. Your archive does not need numerous working copies of the same document. However, as policy and strategy documents are revised it is useful to keep earlier versions to reflect changes within the organisation.

Moving forward, if you want to formalise the process you could create a written plan detailing the trigger points, the action, and people responsible for carrying it out. Sharing this plan with everyone in your organisation and ensuring it is followed will avoid items being overlooked. 

At an advanced level of record keeping, organisations use file plans and retention schedules for controlling where records are kept and what happens to them. The Explore More section will guide you to useful resources if you want to take this further. 

Toolkit tea break

Archivist's example

Archiving plan

This example of an archiving plan illustrates how you can set out the actions needed to incorporate different types of material into your archive.

Activity B5

Integrating the archiving process into working practice 

This activity will help you review current record keeping practices and create a plan to implement improvements and new practices to ensure that the archiving process is embedded into everyday routines. 

Open the Activity booklet and click on Activity B5.

Jargon buster

Records management is the control of information through specified processes to ensure that records are kept and easily found throughout their life-cycle, from creation to disposal or archiving.

Retention is the specified period of time for which records should be kept. It is dependent on legal, statutory and operational needs, and whether the material is of archival value.

Find out more about these and other terms in the Jargon buster.