ARCW comments on Module 1 (part 1)
Discussion in Wales was in broad agreement with most of the generic areas covered – see below for detailed comments – and no additional elements for coverage under this heading were identified, although it was suggested that some of the elements could be brought together.
In general there was however a feeling that the module was often too prescriptive in its approach – and that without a clear idea of the types of services to which Accreditation will apply it was difficult to provide a definitive response on how the different elements should be framed. A more useful approach would be to focus on setting parameters / identifying outcomes, rather than defining how they are to be met – allowing for flexibility in how services from different contexts are managed.
There was some feeling that the ‘Learn more’ sections were not helpful in the context of the Module as part of a Professional Standard – this type of information could be more usefully placed within the detailed guidance.
Finally, there was a general sense that in the area of governance ‘levels’ were not appropriate or helpful.
1.1 Clear statement of purpose
All work and policies are aligned to the archive service's statement of purpose, and it is consistent in what it does and how it does it.
The archive service is guided by a statement of purpose that defines why the service exists, who it is for and which services it aims to provide. It should be approved by the governing body and understood by its workforce.
General agreement that this is required, but need to ensure that there is flexibility in terms of the evidence required – the ‘statement of purpose’ may be defined in more than one type of document.
1.2 Acceptable constitution for the governing body
The archive service is a long-term organisation that exists to benefit the public and protect the collections.
The archive service has an appropriate and acceptable constitution for the governing body.
There was a feeling that this was rather ‘old-fashioned’ it its approach – and support for the suggestion that ‘governance arrangements’ might be a more appropriate wording. It was suggested that this could be combined with 1.3 to define the need for an Accredited service to have appropriate governance / management structures in place.
1.3 Appropriate management arrangements
The interests of stakeholders and collections are served through the responsible management of the archive service.
The archive service is an effective organisation that is well managed and able to provide evidence of the requirements outlined below.
1.3.1 The service has a satisfactory management structure from the governing body to the user
1.3.2 There are effective relationships within the management structure which enable the appropriate professional influence on decision making and policy
1.3.3 The governing body has delegated power to the most senior position within the archive service to manage the repository and approve documents such as forward plan and collecting policy
1.3.4 Approved agreement under which a separate organisation runs or shares the archive service
It was noted that the diversity within the sector meant that defining closely what ‘appropriate management arrangements’ involved was particularly problematic – see comments under 1.2 about amalgamating these two elements.
Specific feedback on 1.3.3 noted that the power to approve key official strategies and policies should usually lay with the governing body not the senior archivist – this was an important opportunity to get buy in / sign off at senior management level.
There was some discussion of the suggestion from the Online Dialogue that this element could be used to support the establishment of ‘Archive Champions’ at a senior management level. While some potential was seen in this as an idea, it was felt that it would not be appropriate to link such a development to the achievement of Accreditation, as for many services it might not be deliverable.
1.4 Effective Forward Planning
The archive service has a clear, agreed objective directing its current and future work.
The archive service plans effectively for long-term success and to make sure it can adapt in a changing environment in order to survive. Its approved forward plans should include or cover the following:
1.4.1 the archive service's statement of purpose
1.4.2 a review of the preview forward plan (if applicable)
1.4.3 an analysis of the environment in which it exists
1.4.4 its key aims
1.4.5 the specific objectives beneath each key aim
1.4.6 how it will achieve its objectives
1.4.7 a resource plan showing the people and money available to meet its objectives
1.4.8 the date the plan will be reviewed
The need for effective Forward Planning was widely recognised, although again it was considered that there was a need to reflect the diversity in how this is approached in different service contexts. The list of requirements was felt to be overly prescriptive, and some aspects of this were not clear, e.g. what was meant by 1.4.2 and 1.4.3.
There was some discussion over whether ‘Strategic Planning’ was a more appropriate title – whether there is a need to look beyond forward planning to a requirement for services to be situating their planning processes in a wider strategic context, aligning with the strategic priorities of parent bodies and government policy, and taking into account partnership opportunities.
Why the contribution is important
Many thanks to ARCW for bringing their thoughts together for inclusion in the dialogue