Whilst there was broad agreement that forward planning was an important issue, there was concern that some archive services are currently undergoing radical change, particularly in relation to governance. In order to manage and respond quickly to such changes, it was felt that a more flexible approach was required from the standard. Flexibility was also a key consideration for participants concerned that approval from an organisation’s governing body was not always appropriate. It was argued that archive services within large, multi-layered organisations would more usually have their forward plans approved by the level of management immediately above them. To resolve this issue, it was proposed that Accreditation should ensure that forward planning is appropriate to the size and scope of the service.
Participants also debated the extent to which forward plans should be aligned with the vision of its governing body. One participant reasoned that if archive services were to have control over their own destinies, they needed to understand the broader context within which they operated. To meet this need, it was suggested that the standard should demand more than just ‘an analysis of the environment’ and instead, services should have to provide evidence of having analysed how the service’s future plans support the vision of its parent organisation. Participants generally agreed with these sentiments, but were concerned that detailed corporate alignment often produced documentation with little relevance to archival activities. It was felt that archive services would benefit from drawing up their own, perhaps informal, set of aims, objectives and plans, which ran alongside their corporate requirements. These could then be fed into the planning needs of others.
There was also a concern that changes enforced by governing bodies could undermine the forward planning process. It was hoped that Accreditation would also give credit for services being ready to grasp unexpected opportunities, in addition to crediting forward planning.