Transferring information is a complex and demanding project, so it is vital that you think it through carefully, to have a plan and to manage it well. Here are some key steps to include in your transition plan:
1. Plan in advance
Start planning for the transfer of information as soon as there is a decision to either merge or close the ALB.
- Define outcomes and success measures
- Assess and manage: risks to the completeness, availability and usability of information; data handling; complying with legislation
- Identify the required and available resources and capabilities
- Ensure that the senior management of both the original body and the parent department understand what is required, understand their legal obligations and responsibilities and allocate appropriate resources
- Refer to published guidance and best practice and contact other organisations that have undertaken similar work
2. Define roles and responsibilities
Form a joint Information Transition Team including officers from original and receiving bodies and relevant suppliers.
- Define who will do the work
- Define joint and individual roles and responsibilities
- Define ownership of the information at each stage of the process
- Identify and draw on relevant expertise within both the original and receiving bodies
3. Decide what to transfer
Decide what information should be transferred and to where.
- Information of continuing business use should be transferred to whoever is taking over that business function, whether another agency, the parent department or another organisation
- Information of archival value may be transferred to The National Archives
- Information of no continuing business use, and no historical value should be disposed of appropriately
- Consider information in all formats and media:
- paper files, electronic records
- emails, websites, intranets
- copies (publications, backups and so on)
- shared drives, databases
- tape or CD collections, photographs, film
- Capture the knowledge of staff from the original organisation, particularly if they are not transferring with the function
- Make arrangements for the management of websites and their content including datasets
- Address issues relating to copyright
4. Define requirements
The receiving organisation will need to continue to find, open, work with, understand and trust the information. This depends on the files themselves, their contextual and management metadata, and the technology that supports their use.
- Define usability requirements for information to be transferred
- Identify dependencies on supporting information or technology:
- metadata, indexes, documentation
- asset registers, audit records, retention schedules
- protective markings and access controls
- supporting technology and licences
- Test against usability requirements throughout the transfer process
5. Comply with legislation
Closing ALBs will usually remain subject to information legislation throughout the process of closure.
- Identify all relevant legislation (such as Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act or Public Records Act)
- Clarify responsibility for requests, complaints and appeals (FOIA and EIR) and prepare handover or guidance notes
- Maintain compliance with data handling guidance and the Security Policy Framework throughout the process
6. Deliver savings and efficiencies
Capitalise on opportunities to increase efficiency and make savings, for example, consider shared service options for data storage or information systems, securely dispose of information that is not required in preference to transferring it.