ISO 15489 – Benchmark for Records Management

Recent scandals, terrorist attacks and natural disasters have highlighted the need for a clear and systematic approach to record keeping, Mike Marsh, European Liaison, ARMA Geneva told a group of information professionals at the Inaugural seminar on ISO 15489 for records management.

The discussion was among the events held at a recently concluded seminar held in Geneva, Switzerland, designed to teach participants how to implement ISO 15489, Information and documentation – Records management – Part 1, and thereby help them to develop an effective records management program. ARMA (Association for Information Management Professionals), organized the one-day seminar “to mark the 2nd anniversary of ISO 15489”, published by ISO in 2001.

Some 140 professionals came to listen and participate in the fruitful discussions on how best to manage their organization’s records using ISO 15489 and do so in such a way that business objectives are supported.

ISO 15489 has effectively established itself as the benchmark for ‘best practice’ and as a remarkable success in both private and public organizations. The standard focuses on the business principles behind records management and how organizations can establish a framework to enable a comprehensive records management program. It can be used to help organizations create, capture, and manage full and accurate records to meet their business needs and legal requirements ,as well as, to satisfy other stakeholder expectations.

In drawing attention to the strategic importance of ISO 15489, seminar speakers highlighted the wide range of benefits that organizations can expect to achieve in implementing the standard, including the ability to conduct business in an orderly, efficient, and accountable manner, meet legal requirements, provide continuity in case of disaster and, protect the interests of the organization, its employees, and stakeholders.

“Two years after its publication and thousands of users later, ISO 15489 has become the road map for good records management,” says Mike Marsh. “To this end, the seminar provided the perfect opportunity to exchange experiences and share visions on the importance of this ISO standard and contribute to increasing its use even further”.

Through a discussion of ISO 15489, including its application and development, as well as, its relevance to information professionals, the seminar offered participants with useful hints and pointers to help them develop an effective records management program within their organization.

While acknowledging that the standard will be particularly useful to information professionals – among them record managers, archivists, knowledge managers, information managers, document managers, and IT providers – seminar speakers stressed that a records management system is most effective only if it is implemented throughout the entire organization, from the office desk clerk through to the senior management level.

The seminar concluded with lively discussions on the challenges of managing electronic records – among them e-mail, attachments, Web sites and databases – and on the importance of easily retrievable, well organized, and logically ordered records in corporate litigation cases. All agreed, however, that ISO 15489 is the benchmark for ‘best practice’ for recordkeeping systems and practices, regardless of medium or format.

More information on the outcome of the seminar, including the complete set of presentations, can be found on the ARMA International Web site,

ISO 15489 – Records Management – Part 1 and ISO/TR 15489 – Guidelines – Part 2 can be ordered from the ANSI Electronics Store at <>.