Glossary of Important Terms in Connection with Procedures, Records Management and Document Management

Background information and regulations can be better understood and implemented when the underlying terms are fully comprehended. In our glossary you will find definitions for essential terms associated with Records Management.

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A-Z

 
TermExplanation
accessibilityA completely accessible digital document is accessible to all users equally and without limitations; this means it can be found, understood and navigated without difficulty or help from others. Assistive technologies such as screen readers or braille keyboards must find all the necessary information to output the content correctly. This means, for example, that all characters must be correct and embedded in the correct language, all visual and audio information must have text alternatives added to it and there must be a logical hierarchy of headings for navigating the document. In some cases, complete accessibility is not possible because part of the information contained cannot be made completely accessible for technical or practical reasons. If the rest of the document is set up to be accessible, it can be said that the document is partially accessible.
appointment, deadline (Termin)The German word Termin refers to a specified point in time that is usually defined by a calendar date and often also a specific time on that day. This usually means an appointment but may also refer to a deadline, or simply a specific date on which something will occur or is planned/intended without this having to be a particular appointment).
business operation (Geschäftsgang)The so-called Geschäftsgang refers to the entirety of all procedural responsibilities within the organisation as well as their interaction and the steering of steps in decision processes. It includes
• the processing of individual incoming items with entry into the list of incoming items and allocation to the responsible or processing offices,
• the decision-making process,
• the process of drawing up a response in cooperation with the person or department co-signing it,
• finalising and sending the document,
• the filing of the draft copy for the files (Entwurf).
The Geschäftsgang is the entirety of all transactions (Vorgänge) that are currently being processed. It is defined in the rules of procedure (Geschäftsordnungen).
business processA business process is a complete temporal and logical sequence of activities that serve the purpose of processing a task. Business processes can be structured or partly structured.
case fileCase files (Fallakte), as opposed to topical files (Sachakte), are files that are subject to the same procedure and are uniformly structured; they often only differ in a formal characteristic, such as the first letter of the applicant’s surname. They are typical of structured mass procedures, such as enrolment or applications.
circular letterA circular letter (or circular for short) is a letter that is addressed to several specific recipients; it can either be circulated to them one after the other (Umlauf), or copies may be sent in parallel (on paper or by email); it may also be displayed on a notice-board.
documentDocument is a general term for all information assets in written form (on paper or in electronic form), regardless of whether they are internal or external, drafts or counterparts for the files, file notes or emails, meeting reports, faxes or other types of texts. A document is identifiable and accessible as a unit. A document is necessary to form a → transaction (Vorgang).
draft copy for the files (Entwurf)The German word Entwurf refers to a draft in everyday use, but here, in the context of records management, it is used to mean a copy for the files that contains the entire final and approved text of the outgoing correspondence, a list of further recipients and/or instructions for further processing and possibly further notes, such as when and with which enclosures it was sent. Draft copies for the files must be marked as such.
fileA file is the collection of all documents – including electronic documents with meta-data – that are created in connection with a task and are necessary for continued work on the respective task. A file usually consists of several transactions (Vorgang) connected to one matter. Within each transaction (Vorgang), the documents are usually filed in the order of their creation. This includes internal records, such as memos, official decisions as well as concepts or copies of outgoing documents with notes from the sender or external documents such as incoming originals or counterparts with notes on when they were received. Files are thus created as instruments of administrative work. They are always the property of the place of employment, never private property. Files must be kept in such a way that decision processes are transparent, also to outsiders, at any time.
file note (Aktennotiz)In der Aktennotiz werden Ereignisse, die für den Vorgang sehr wichtig sein können, kurz dokumentiert. Die Aktennotiz kann nur für den Inhalt der Vorgangsmappe gedacht oder zur Information an verschiedene Personen gerichtet sein.
incoming documentA document received from outside the organisation, regardless of whether it is a letter, fax, email message or (completed) form.
letter, externalAn external letter is a written communication that is sent to a recipient outside the university; the signed original of the letter (Ausfertigung (counterpart) or Reinschrift) is sent to the recipient, the draft copy for the files (Entwurf) is kept on file at the office that it was sent from.
letter, internalAn internal letter is a letter sent from one organisational unit of the University of Bamberg to another.
meeting recordA meeting report (Protokoll) records or prescribes at what time or in which order which transaction (Vorgang)was or will be put into motion by whom. It is a written (on paper or electronic) document that should contain at least the following information: Date and time, persons involved, transaction (Vorgang).
A meeting report is a formal record of a meeting and is usually distributed to the participants and sometimes also to others. The reference number depends on which office is in charge of the matter. The meeting report must be signed by the meeting chair and the person creating the report. There are three types of meeting report that differ in their content:
• Verlaufsprotokoll (meeting report including a summary of what was said about each matter prior to decision-making)
• Meeting minutes (Ergebnisprotokoll – a summary of motions put forward and decisions on those motions)
• Meeting transcript (Wortprotokoll – a verbatim report of the meeting).
A written report on a meeting is also often called a Niederschrift in German. This term is not recommended, as it may be confused with a
memoA memo is a written (on paper or in electronic form) summary of information on events, discussions or on the status of a matter that may be important for future processing and decision-making in the matter concerned. Memos are referenced and permanently linked to the matter by means of the reference number (Aktenzeichen). Their purpose is to supplement information on a given matter.
official channels and proceduresPath of progression or escalation that must be followed for official transactions. This ensures an ordered and unhindered flow of administrative processes. This applies to transactions with immediate superiors as well as transactions with the hierarchically superordinate office or organisation via the superordinate officer. Official channels and procedures must generally be used. Exceptions to the official channels and procedures are regulated by rules for specific exceptional cases.

official record (of a declaration)

 

An official record (Niederschrift) must be made of oral declarations that are of special factual or legal importance. This official record must contain not only a transcript or summary of the content of the declaration but also the personal details of the person giving the declaration (declarant) and the additional notation “Vorgelesen /selbst gelesen, genehmigt und unterschrieben” (read out to the declarant (or read by the declarant), approved and signed); it must be dated and submitted to the declarant for signature (see section 19 of the Allgemeine Geschäftsordnung für die Behörden des Freistaates Bayern (by-law on procedures in Bavarian public authorities – AGO)) . If the declarant refuses to sign, this must be noted in the official record. The person accepting the declaration completes the official record by signing it, too.
See also: → Meeting report
period for doing something (Frist)The German word Frist normally refers to a period in which something needs to be done, or can be done, for example an application period or registration period. In English, we tend to talk more about deadlines – a deadline is the end of the Frist, i.e. of the period within which an action must be completed.
personal reference file (Handakte)If someone creates a collection of working copies for their personal use, this is called a personal reference file (Handakte). All original documents must be added to the official file. Personal reference files may only contain copies. Personal reference files must be marked as such (e.g. in the labelling on the spine or cover of the file). Personal reference files may not be removed from the workplace.
preliminary draft (Vorentwurf)A preliminary draft is a text that is still being edited.
relevance for recordsDocuments and associated process steps of relevance for decisions are relevant for the records if they must be kept on provable record with the purpose of documenting for future reference the completeness, clarity and transparency of administrative actions both for internal use and as evidence for third parties. Provability here means that documents in question remain legible, unaltered and usable in the long term.
status update (Zwischenmitteilung)As soon as it becomes clear that a request or application or other matter cannot be processed within an appropriate time-frame, the persons involved must be informed; see section 15 (4) sentence 1 of the AGO.
topical fileUnlike a case file, a topical file is a file that is structured by its content or fact-based criteria, for example a file on a building project. It is typical for procedures which are only partially structured.
transaction (Vorgang)A transaction is a collection of records that are generated in the course of a business process. For example, the different documents and records that are created in connection with a job advertisement represent a transaction. Several transactions on similar matters are taken together to form a file. While the file can be unlimited (e.g. "job advertisements"), the transaction always has a beginning and (potential) end date (for example "no. 123456 IT employee").