I can think of at least one place where a subject-based classification
scheme is not only possible, it is necessary: law firm client file
retention scheduling. Ethics authorities are unanimous that retention
periods must take into account the nature of the matter (e.g., traffic
ticket, criminal conviction, contract matter, a will, and so on). This
means that when developing a retention schedule for them, you have to do it
by matter type, and that is a subject-based scheme.
I think its also fairly common on the lower index levels of many other
records classification schemes. Reports or project files are two obvious
examples. At some point, you get below the functional hierarchy, and you
get to a list of report types or project files based on subject.
Come to think of it, I'll bet y'all out there in Sarbanes-Oxley land have at
least one such category in your file plan and retention schedule yourselves
-- a category for whistleblowing. If you don't you'd better put it there,
because the SEC will want to see it next time they come around.
Cunningham & Montana, Inc.
29 Parsons Road
Landenberg PA 19350
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Records Management Program [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
> Behalf Of Carol E.B. Choksy, Ph.D., CRM
> Sent: Tuesday, March 08, 2005 7:04 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Classification schemes
> I am a consultant and have seen many different classification schemes.
> They are all either by function or by department. The ones that are by
> function can usually be produced by department because that is how we
> produce the classification plan for each department to review, by
> maintaining an association between the department and the function.
> I have never seen a classification plan by subject. Even the questions
> executives ask are by a criterion related to the documents within the
> records series. For example, they would ask a question by title rather
> than by person, or by product rather than by manufacturing process.
> Generally speaking, we eschew subject as much as possible even within
> departments where "subject files" have been renamed "reading files" for
> litigation purposes.
> Records management classifications are a little less that 100 years old.
> Even then they were by function, the reason being--as it is now--that
> companies reorganize frequently, but they either eject an entire function
> or turn it over to another department.
> There are additional criteria we use to distinguish one records series
> from another, such as privacy, sensitivity, or retention, but those are
> not so much facets as they are functional, i.e., mental health records are
> more sensitive than physical health records.
> Hope this helps.
> Best wishes,
> Carol E.B. Choksy, Ph.D., CRM
> IRAD Strategic Consultant. Inc.
> (317) 294-8329
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