ISO 15489: A Tool Records Management Mergers: The Global Records Management Standard Is a Strong, Viable 21st-Century Model That Enables the Assessment, Design, and Implementation of a New, Post-Merger Corporate Records Management Program

By White-Dollmann, Mary M. | Information Management, September-October 2004 | Go to article overview
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ISO 15489: A Tool Records Management Mergers: The Global Records Management Standard Is a Strong, Viable 21st-Century Model That Enables the Assessment, Design, and Implementation of a New, Post-Merger Corporate Records Management Program


White-Dollmann, Mary M., Information Management


At the Core

This article

* examines the use of ISO 15849 in records management program planning during and after company mergers

* review the evolution and content of ISO 15849 and its translation to a practical model and tool

* provides in case study lessons learned from implementation

The mega-merger environment of the 1990s business world continues into the new century. The global records management standard, ISO 15849: Information and Documentation-Records Management, is a strong, viable 21st-century model that enables the assessment, design, and implementation of new pos-merger corporate records management programs.

ISO 15849 provides a framework to assess existing records management programs and to identify their strengths and gaps. The assessment can then used to design a new program, including an audit process. This real-world case study, presented from the records and information management practitioner's perspective, provides information on how the standard works in practice, validates its benefits, and summarizes lessons learned.

Merger Background

Two Fortune 100 global, integrated energy companies contemplate a merger. Upon completion, the new company would have $80 billion in combined assets, operations in more than 40 countries, and 56,000 employees worldwide. The company's core business operations would include: 1) petroleum exploration and production; 2) petroleum refining, marketing, supply, and transportation; 3) natural gas gathering, processing, and marketing; and 4) chemical and plastics production and distribution. The "spirit" of the company is found in its core business values: Safety, People, Integrity, Responsibility, Innovation, and Teamwork. These core values are supported by all company goals, policies, and programs.

At the announcement of the merger, transition teams were appointed to evaluate existing policies, programs, operations, and services. The teams were responsible for recommending a strategy, plan, organization, and resources for the new company's operations. One of these teams, under the direction of information technology (IT) leadership, was given the task of addressing document and records management. The team included the two corporate records managers, the IT director from each merging company, and an attorney. The team had a three-month time frame to complete all tasks. All IT transition teams were instructed by management to use the following principles in their recommendations:

* Be Global.

* Look for world-class best practices.

* Focus on process.

* Align with the businesses.

Selecting the Model

The document and records management merger transition team identified ISO 15489 as a global best practice to use as a model and tool for its project tasks. ISO 15489 met the following business-driven criteria:

* It is a global standard. The merging companies' existing information management strategies, policies, and services were required to have a global framework. The new company would have business units in more than 40 countries worldwide. ISO 15489 moved beyond a narrow U.S. perspective in designing records management processes and established a "world-class best practice."

* It provides a global framework and common foundation for uniform program implementation. During implementation of the pre-merger records management programs, there had been barriers and challenges at non-U.S. business sites. These disconnects in basic records management concepts, traditions, processes, and definitions were evident at all levels of the international organizations. For example, management in many international business sites did not share the risk management value of records management systems that are largely based on the litigious U.S. environment. In the United Kingdom, Europe, and Indonesia, emphasis in records management was primarily on indexing and archival management and less on systematic retention programs.

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ISO 15489: A Tool Records Management Mergers: The Global Records Management Standard Is a Strong, Viable 21st-Century Model That Enables the Assessment, Design, and Implementation of a New, Post-Merger Corporate Records Management Program
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