The most important elements of records management are the business records, the files as well as the classification systems, independent of their form or archive location.
- Business records contain documents of various types: contracts, minutes, notes, emails, etc. Documents exist in the form of paper, data files or data sets, and often in both forms simultaneously. They represent the smallest element within the classification system and only in their entirety they document business activity.
- The creation of files (=dossier) is an important principle for the professional handling of business records. Knowing the content as well as the context in which a document was created is vital for the comprehension of business records. A file ties all documents of a transaction together and contains all relevant information pertaining to it. This requires that all records relevant to a specific transaction are stored in files, independent of their format.
- The classification system is the central management tool to capture and regulate records. It represents all business tasks and activities and is the basis for filing all accumulated records in physical and digital form. Well functioning and long-term applicable classification systems are task-oriented. An organization-oriented classification system is less suitable, as organisations change their structure more often than their tasks. Classification systems are intuitively understood due to their hierarchical structure and therefore outmatch full-text and keyword systems.