BS10008 White Paper

ABSTRACT: Back in 1975 an article appeared in the “Business Week” stating that with the level of automation and computerisation in the workplace, we would all soon be working in a ‘Paperless office’. But in 2013 one only needs to look around an average office to see this is far from the case.

As technology has advanced, we as a species, continue to cling to a form of physical communication that was invented by the Chinese in the 2nd century BC. Paper still dominates our lives and many state that a reason for holding onto this medium is due to the very physical nature of the medium – “It exists; therefore I can trust it.”

However there is now a solution that could herald the dawn of the paperless office. This comes in the form of a British Standard (BS).

This paper will detail what the standard covers and what it could mean to businesses both in the regulated and non-regulated arenas.

READ THE WHITE PAPER HERE

 

BS10008 Could the ‘Paperless Office’ be in sight?

Introduction

Consider for a moment what paper you see in a traditional office on a day-to-day basis; Paper on desks, stored in filing cabinets, paper files, articles and flyers, folders, micro-fiche, micro- film and note pads. The ‘Paperless Office’ we were promised in 1975 has yet to materialise but, the need to audit and evidence work undertaken is increasing, as is the need to keep a record of it.

We are living in an era where ‘Big Data’ in terms of computer storage is a common phrase, but with this increase in data there has been an increase in physical paper storage requirements. The ‘Big Office’ is getting bigger. It could be argued that the need for evidence has been driven by a ‘Compensation culture’ or the lesser ‘Blame culture’, where physical evidence is required to show that the correct measures or processes have been taken and followed. This fear of litigation has led many to support electronic documentation with hard-copies.

The evidencing of authenticity of information is therefore often at the root of the need to store physical documents. In 1975 this was a very real and understandable concern, but in 2008 a British Standard was introduced which could change all of this and in 2013 there is a real desire and drive to see this standard utilised by the business world.

BS 10008

BS10008, or to give it its full title “BS10008: Evidential weight and legal admissibility of electronic information”, looks at the way information is held electronically and demonstrates that the information can be authenticated and its integrity evidenced.

For organisations and industries around the world where records could be requested as evidence in disputes, two areas have always been a major concern and/or a stumbling block;

  • Authenticity (How can we be sure it is genuine?)
  • Integrity (Has this been changed since it became electronic?)

Organisations have always needed to demonstrate and implement good information management processes. Recognising this need to keep information in an orderly and quickly accessible manner, Edwin G. Seibels invented the filing cabinet back in 1898 and the basic design is still the same today.

With electronic information the need to demonstrate and implement good information management processes is just as important. The British Standard is therefore a positive move towards demonstrating that quality management principals are in place to manage electronic information and provide assurance of its authenticity and integrity.

What does BS 10008 do?

First and foremost, the BS10008 Certification standard offers assurance that the information you are handling/storing is being done in a responsible and structured manner in accordance with best practice. If the information you hold is likely to be used in a Court of Law then this standard will provide you with confidence that the information is indeed admissible in Court.

The standard sets out the requirements for the implementation and operation of an Electronic Information Management System (EIMS). This includes setting out the requirements of how an EIMS stores, processes, transfers and removes electronic information.

If it is not already clear, then it is important to state that ALL information will come under this standard, including CCTV footage, scanned documents and all documents which are created using standard Office tools.

The benefits of BS 10008

It is clear that one of the major benefits of this standard is in the provision of evidential weight for legal admissibility of information for those organisations which need it. Principally these would be; Law firms, insurers, health organisations/authorities and government agencies (including law enforcement). However it is clear that every business can benefit from what many may see as the ‘fringe’ benefits of such as standard.

Whilst the cost of data storage has reduced over the years, leading to more discussions surrounding ‘Big Data’, the costs of storing physical documents continues to be static and/or increasing with demand. The costs associated with printing information and then the physical active of storage includes;

  • The purchase of paper and storage facilities
  • Man-management of the process,
  • Loss of time in retrieval of key information
  • Costs incurred due to loss of physical records (e.g. once a document has been ‘burnt’ it is lost forever and the cost of re-constitution may be onerous).

With this standard your electronic documents are admissible in a Court of Law.

Add to this the need by many organisations to reduce carbon-footprint and improve energy efficiencies, it is clear to see that the main drivers for embarking on the road of certification are clear;

  • Legally admissible documentation
  • Reduced costs
  • Reduction in carbon-footprint

What does BS 10008 cover?

All standards follow a similar structure but the key areas to note within the BS10008 standard are;

  • Planning the information management system
  • Your EIMS Policy
  • The Information Security Policy
  • Roles and responsibilities (including reporting and communications)
  • Documentation and records
  • Implementing and operating the information management system
  • How Information is captured
  •  Compound documents (documents made up of other documents)
  • Version control management
  • Information storage and transfer
  • How documents are indexed
  • Output and Identity of documentation o Disposal/destruction of information
  • Information Security procedures
  • System maintenance
  • External service provisions
  • EIMS Testing
  • Monitoring and reviewing of the EIMS
  • Audits
  •  Management reviews
  •  Maintaining and improving the EIMS
  • Maintenance
  • Preventative and Corrective actions o Continual ImprovementIt is important to note that Information Security principals are referenced in several places throughout the standard and therefore having a robust IMS will certainly be a benefit for organisations wishing to take advantage of this standard.

Conclusion

In this document I set out to demonstrate that the fabled ‘Paperless Office’ could now become a reality.

For organisations wishing to undertake the standard, they will be ahead of the game and see the benefits before others do. Reduction of
costs is obviously a key driver, but with this standard, organisations can demonstrate far more than just good business sense. They can demonstrate that they take information security seriously and demonstrate that they are also concerned with the environment through a reduction in carbon footprint. This in turn will benefit other standards such as ISO14001 (Environmental standard) and help further establish a business as leaders in their industry.

Will the transition to a paperless office (or paperless society) be an easy one? This is difficult to assess. It will take time and it will take commitment from business leaders. However what is clear is the immediate cost benefits businesses can enjoy with a reduction in the need for printing/printers and the need for dedicated storage providers.

Does all this present a problem for the Storage industry? Possibly. However I believe they are already very aware of this standard and perhaps are even hoping that it goes unnoticed.

But maybe the smart Storage companies see this as a great opportunity and are already moving into the world of online storage. If they are, then BS10008 will be the pre-requisite standard for them to adopt.

What is clear is that the Paperless office could be on the horizon and I for one will be pleased to see the dawn of that day.

It is a standard which will have multiple benefits to any organisation wishing to become accredited to it and with the Justice Minister, Damien Green, stating that a cash injection of £160million to the MoJ for all Courtrooms to be fully digitised by 2016, it would seem the time is right to review the standard.

“The benefits are clear – Cost savings, Legal admissibility Reduced carbon footprint.”

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Agenci Team