Appraisal is the process of distinguishing records of continuing value from those of no further value so that the latter may be eliminated. Records can possess different types or degrees of value to an organisation, which will affect how long collections need to be kept. In general, there are two layers of value:
The value to the organisation that created them for administrative, legal and fiscal purposes. Identifying records of ongoing business value will assist efficient and effective administration, enable decision making and policy development based on current information and allow organisations to be accountable in terms of the management of resources as well as legal and financial scrutiny.
The additional historical value to the organisation and wider society. This can include 'evidential' value derived from the way the record documented the history, structure and functions of an organisation, and 'informational' value in providing research material on persons, places and subjects. Select records for permanent preservation which show the significance of the functions and activities of departments.
In order to make appraisal more efficient, departments should look to judge the value of their record holdings at an appropriate level. This means where possible, making decisions on groups of records or categories of information based on the context in which those records were created or are currently used. Understanding key departmental objectives, functions, and business processes will help identify core information assets and support decisions around retention periods. It should also reduce the need to review records on an individual basis, which can be time-consuming.