Why Business Archives

Business Archives

  • Contain information vital for business continuity and are necessary to meet both short and long-term legal obligations.
  • Provide internal information relating to an organisation’s successes and failures which are used to inform the thinking of current business leaders.
  • Drive competitive advantage and support and inspire business and product development.
  • Can be exploited as part of Corporate Social Responsibility projects.
  • Aid marketing and decision making as well as providing evidence for legal and brand protection.

Business archives also have a wider social value. The central role that business and the economy play in our lives through wealth creation and the provision of goods and services mean they contribute an important element of our local, regional and national heritage.

What Are Business Archives?

Business archives are those records that are created through a businesses operation that have a long term value to the business, its stakeholders and future generation.  Archives records can include paper, electronic records, audio tapes, video, photographs and objects.

Most of the material produced by an organisation is ephemeral and of little use after the function that created it is ended. However, some of the records will remain a unique corporate asset that documents a company’s origins, growth, products, services and decisions.

Determining which part has continued value can be difficult but selecting and preserving key documents ensures that the company’s history and information on its actions, services, and development will not be lost.

An archive is then a unique corporate asset that can be used for important legal, marketing, communications and business decisions that form part of a historical business context. Rather than being a matter of nostalgia, an archive is an important investment in the future of the company.

What do they contain?

Less than five percent of all company records is appropriate for retention in a business archive.

The records that should be retained in an archive depends very much on the nature of the business or organisation, but the following are typical found:

  • documents concerning a company’s founders and foundation
  • corporate and capital structure
  • financial performance
  • management culture
  • major achievements and public image
  • advertising
  • acquisitions and strategic alliances
  • interaction with regulatory agencies
  • trademarks
  • technical and management innovations

Archives as an asset

Archives are a business asset and can be exploited as such.  A good quality archive can be used to support:

  • Business activities
    • Public relations and advertising
    • Investor relations
    • Policy development and evaluation
    • Government and regulatory affairs
    • Trademark protection and licensing
    • Litigation support
    • Recruitment
    • Orientation and training
    • Employee communications
    • Case studies and corporate histories
    • Corporate, customer and product anniversary celebrations
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