MoReq: The Standard of the Future?

Article excerpt

SettinqStandards

Want to understand what electronic records management systems (ERMS) should do? The Model Requirements for the Management of Electronic Records (MoReq) is a good place to start.

At the Core

This article

* defines and explains the MoReq specification

* identifies MoReq's strengths and weaknesses

* examines the specification's future

The Model Requirements for the Management of Electronic Records (MoReq) is a generic specification for systems designed to manage electronic records. It is not an official standard, but it can be used to design, select, and audit such systems. In practice, an electronic records management system (ERMS) might be a separate system or, increasingly, it is more likely an electronic document management system (EDMS) with ERMS functionality bundled on to it.

Cornwell Affiliates developed MoReq for the European Commission's Interchange of Data between Administrations (IDA) initiative. The authors, Marc Fresko and Martin Waldron, were assisted by a distinguished review panel drawn from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. In addition, the requirements went through a validation exercise involving six public and private sector organizations drawn from three countries. The MoReq specification is designed to be pragmatic, easily used, and applicable throughout Europe.

MoReq's target audience is very broad, covering every economic sector and both business and public organizations. It may be used as the basis for

* preparing an invitation to tender (request for proposal) prior to purchasing an ERMS

* auditing or checking an existing ERMS

* preparing records management training and course material

* a teaching resource for academic institutions

* a product development guide that highlights required functionality for ERMS suppliers and developers

* a guide for records management service providers (i.e., outsourced services)

The MoReq specification is clearly laid out and structured. There are separate chapters covering classification schemes, controls and security, retention and disposal, records capture, reference, search, retrieval, rendering, and administrative functions. Other functions, such as managing non-electronic records, workflow, electronic signatures, encryption, electronic watermarks, and workflow, are also touched upon. In addition, the specification covers nonfunctional requirements such as ease of use, scalability, and technical standards. There is an entire chapter on metadata requirements.

Concepts and terminology are clearly explained. Within each chapter there are general statements to provide context and introduce ideas, followed by specific numbered requirements. Sensibly, given the breadth of potential use, the specification is divided into mandatory and desirable elements ("must" versus "should" clauses).

MoReq is sometimes called a "standard specification" but the publication describes itself more modestly as a "model specification." This is an important distinction. Users can add functionality relevant to the particular situation, or remove as required, the optional aspects from MoReq.

Anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of specifying or evaluating ERMS should read MoReq. For records managers who want to understand what an ERMS ought to do, MoReq is a good place to start. Thus, MoReq deserves to be widely used for teaching purposes. A future edition could be made more useful yet if it were restructured to separate technical requirements from service requirements and user requirements. It is likely that the specification would require modifications or additions to ensure a robust, practical result,

European Focus

To understand MoReq's strengths and weaknesses, it is important to understand its origins. By the 1990s, the European Union (EU) became concerned that the United States' enormous competitive advantage in information technology (IT), the Internet, and e-commerce might leave the European economy at a permanent disadvantage. …