Classification Schemes and Fileplans



A Business Classification Schemes (BCS) is a hierarchical representation of a public authority’s functions, activities and transactions (FAT more in a future up date) that can be used for file titling purposes. Derived from a in depth analysis of the business processes of an organisation, demonstrating how records are best be grouped and filed for ease of retrieval, use, retention and disposal.

Principles of Classification

The act of analyzing and determining the subject content of a document and then selecting the subject category under which it will be filed and/or indexed. (ARMA Glossary)

  • Categorising things into groups; associating them with things they are like and separating them from which that are different
  • Applied to all types of media: electronic and paper based records, and websites
  • Flowing from the general to the exact
  • What’s the difference between a classification scheme, file plan, and a filing system?

    The process of classification in records management is to help create file plans, filing systems, and records retention schedules. (Records retention schedules (section to follow) are a type of classification. In most organisations, records are usually classified by function (for example, accounting, personnel, payroll functions).

    A file plan is a form of classification scheme that “describes diverse types of files maintained in an organisations office, how they identify them, where they store them, and how they ought to be indexed for retrieval, and referenced to the approved disposition for each file.” (ARMA Glossary)

    A filing system is the “systematic indexing and arranging of records based on established procedures.” (ARMA Glossary) Most filing systems are arranged alphabetically, numerically, chronologically, or alphanumerically.

    Before an Electronic Documents Records Management system can be put into practice, a appropriate classification scheme (similar to a fileplan) should be devised to allow records to be organised for subsequent storage, retrieval and ultimate destruction.

    Occasionally existing fileplans, for instance those designed for paper based file systems, or designed around an existing standard similar to the Local Government Classification Scheme (LGCS - UK) can be modified. But, where currently there is no suitable fileplan a new one will have to be created.

    The development of a new fileplan can be a long, complex and thankless task that more often than not has to be completed in a relatively short timescale.

    Implementing a new fileplan does bring with it a number of challenges:

  • Training in business analysis and a capacity to reconcile inconsistent business requirements.
  • The management of fileplan information throughout development can be a difficult and thankless task.
  • Intense input of human resources within a short period will be required.
  • Large fileplans bring the difficulty of capturing information in a format that can be simply recorded and edited.
  • Some of the Benefits of a good BCS and Fileplan:

  • Much faster filing and a far fewer misfiles.
  • Less probability of litigation for losses or unfavourable auditing.
  • Comply with legislative and audit requirements and access to records requests.
  • Automated backup procedures with less costly recovery of vital records.
  • Efficient training of new personnel.
  • Professional management of records and their disposition.
  • Definite Improved service to colleagues and customers.


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    Classification Scheme and Fileplan