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Documentation planning – suggested procedure

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You should have a written procedure that explains the steps to follow when carrying out planning and managing documentation projects. This suggested procedure is useful starting point. It is given as text and also as a workflow diagram. However you do it, your own procedure should meet the minimum requirements of the Spectrum standard.


Reviewing your existing collections information


Review whether your existing collections information meets your needs.

Writing your documentation plan


Create your documentation plan.

Based on your review, create a written documentation plan to address your improvement priorities within a defined timescale. This should detail the:

  • Objectives you wish to achieve, referring to any relevant standards that are important to ensure quality (eg subject-specific cataloguing schemes, terminology sources, image specifications).
  • Actions your organisation will be taking to meet those objectives (eg take photographs of the objects, use standard terminologies for describing objects, carry out rights research on the collection).
  • Resources (eg people and time) that will be used.
  • Measurable results that are based on the stated objectives.
  • Milestones that can be used to review progress by specified dates.

Above all, the plan’s objectives should be achievable within the timescale, given the resources available. If this is not a realistic possibility, you need to prioritise and re-scope the plan. Remember, once you have met the minimum requirements of the Inventory procedure, your priorities are up to you. Your documentation plan is a means to the ends you have identified, not an end in itself.

Record the Document location of this plan, so that it can easily be found and referred to.


Putting your documentation plan into practice


Get the plan approved.

You should make sure that your governing body and senior managers support the plan and will allocate the resources needed to achieve its objectives.


Put the plan into action.

If your documentation plan is to tackle an inventory backlog, go back to Inventory.

If the plan involves other procedures, go to these as needed.


Regularly review your progress, based on the milestones in the plan.

Regularly review your progress, based on the milestones in the plan. Adjust the plan, if necessary, based on the results of the review, and get the revisions approved.


Complete the work and evaluate the plan.

At the end of the period covered by the plan, or revised plan, stop and evaluate how effective it was, noting any lessons learned.


Continual improvement


Repeat the procedure.

The point of this procedure is continual improvement of your collections information as part of your wider cycle of forward planning. So once you have evaluated one plan, start thinking about the next one.

Date created: 2017

Publisher: Collections Trust