Making your documentation systems better and enhancing the information they contain as an ongoing process of continual improvement.

This procedure is more generic than many others. Its focus is on planning and managing any kind of documentation project: defining objectives; writing a plan; monitoring progress; and responding to any problems along the way.

If your organisation does not yet meet the minimum standard for the Inventory procedure, this should be the first priority addressed in your plan.

Not all documentation projects are ‘retrospective’ in the sense of recording information that should have been noted when objects were first acquired. Cataloguing, in particular, is an ongoing, open-ended process that is less daunting if treated as discrete research projects rather than a single ‘backlog’.

Planning improvements to your documentation should be done as part of your organisation’s wider forward-planning process. For example, the goal of putting collections images online might prompt a project to improve the copyright information needed to do this, or a planned exhibition might involve research that could enhance object records. As with forward planning, when you come to the end of one documentation plan, you should review your needs again, which may well lead to a new plan.

This is a Spectrum primary procedure. UK museums must meet the standard set out below to fulfil the requirements of the Museum Accreditation Scheme.

Documentation planning - the Spectrum standard


You should have a written documentation policy (sometimes called a collections information policy). This should ideally form part of an integrated collections management framework – a coherent set of policy statements, plans and procedures that also includes the development, access and care of your collections. Either way, in deciding your policy you will most likely […]

Documentation planning - suggested procedure


You should have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when carrying out planning and managing documentation projects. This suggested procedure, and the workflow based on it, are useful starting points. However you do it, your own procedure should meet the minimum requirements of the Spectrum standard. To see the workflow as PDF, […]