A business classification scheme, as the name implies, is derived from an analysis of the business being conducted. Records Standard 3 – Discovery endorses a functional approach to managing records, where records are classified and arranged according to the business they document. The functions identified as a result of the business analysis become the keywords used to describe relevant records in the classification scheme.

The NT Government has an all of government business classification scheme based on the NSW State Records Authority Keyword AAA model. This scheme is implemented in the form of agency thesauruses loaded into TRM which are used to title records. The same system of classification is used to describe disposal classes in records disposal schedules. The classifications documented in both corporate and functional records retention schedules are the only classifications approved for the disposal of NT Government records.

Classifying records based on an analysis of the unique business functions and activities of the organisation, independent of the organisation's administrative structure, is accepted as industry best practice nationally and internationally.(1)

This approach is organisation-neutral as it does not change when government functions are rearranged between departments. It offers a number of other benefits including:

  • explicitly linking records to their business context
  • the ability to link classifications to disposal, retention, access and security decisions
  • promoting consistency across business units and agencies to support discovery, FOI, and change management processes within an agency and between agencies during administrative change
  • accuracy and ease of retrieval over time through consistent use of language.

A business classification scheme is a primary tool in achieving these outcomes. The principal function of classification is to assist in the management of the records, with improvements in information retrieval a secondary benefit flowing from this central purpose.


To provide advice to public sector organisations on how to develop and manage a functional business classification scheme. This will support the processes of creation, discovery, security, and disposal of records through the consistent use of language in the description of corporate records and place the records into their business context.


This Guideline is issued by the Department of Corporate and Information Services (NT Records Service).

Legal and regulatory framework

The regulatory basis for this guideline is defined in:


Australian Standards applicable to this guideline:

  • Australian Standard AS ISO 15489: 2002 - Records Management
  • Australian Standard handbook HB 5031: 2011 - Records Classification.


The Records Service wishes to acknowledge material produced by Queensland State Archives, State Records Authority NSW, State Records Office of Western Australia, State Records of South Australia, and the NT Archives Service.

Last updated: 08 March 2019

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