Estates Records Management

The Estates Records and Archives Officer  is part of the Space and Building Information Team and assists the work of Estates with two primary functions: providing access to information on the College’s buildings; and providing records management guidance.

Access is provided to an archive of digital and hard copy records of buildings and infrastructure across the College, including building drawings dating back to the early 1900’s; Operation & Maintenance and Building Fabric Manuals for construction projects from the 1990s to the current day, and a photographic database which captures the changes in the College Estate.

The Estates Records & Archives Officer is also responsible for Records Management provision across the Estates Division 

  • Providing guidance on records management best practice
  • overseeing and assisting with setting up physical and digital records storage
  • conducting records storage audits
  • Setting up project files and registering project numbers
  • arranging transfer of completed project records to the College Archive and evaluating their retention requirements
  • advising on records related legislation such as GDPR, Freedom of Information and Environmental Information regulations enquiries
  • Conducting artefact surveys to document building elements of historic and cultural value to the College.

Records management procedures comply with the requirements of the College Archive and Corporate Records Unit and in line with government legislation such as the General Data Protection Act (GDPR) and Freedom of Information (FOI).

Good records management by all helps us work more effectively

  • Easily find what you need
  • Accountability for any decisions made or actions carried out
  • Access to trustworthy records – now and in the future

To make this work, requires EVERYONE to play their part. All staff and consultants working with the Division, who create, receive and utilise records during their work have a responsibility towards records management

The following tabs give more information on Estates' records and filing procedures and the benefits of good records management.



What information should I keep as a record?

A College Record refers to information received or created during the course of your work for or on behalf of the College.  This could be a report, a photograph, an email, a receipt or even notes taken down during a meeting and should be retained in a structured filing system if it meets the following criteria:

  • Is there a statutory requirement to retain the document?
  • Is it a formal draft of an agreement or legal document?
  • Does it fall within categories described in the College retention schedule?
  • Does it form part of an Estates’ business transaction?
  • Does it add value to or support an existing document?
  • Does it show how a transaction was processed?
  • Does it show how a decision was made?
  • Does it document a change to policy or procedure?
  • Does it show when or where an important event happened?
  • Does in some other way demonstrate the history of Estates within Imperial College

The types of records held by Estates staff might include, to list but a few examples; project files, HR records, training records, health & safety records, finance, legal documentation, surveys, awards, operation & maintenance manuals, drawings, 3D digital information, photographs, communications and social activities.  They may be in paper or digital formats, saved on discs, memory sticks, College servers, within databases or in cloud storage.

Who is responsible for records management?

All individuals who create, receive and store records as part of their work have record keeping responsibilities.

Central Secretariat: has overall responsibility for information governance within Imperial College London.  They are responsible for ensuring appropriate mechanisms are in place to support service delivery and continuity.  They ensure that legal responsibilities are met at a corporate level and for the adoption of internal and external governance requirements

College Archive and Corporate Records Unit (ACRU): responsible for ensuring College-wide information compliance, upkeep of the College Records' Retention Schedule, advising on Divisional records management policies and ensuring that local records management processes are developed, coordinated and monitored.

ICT: provision of digital storage solutions and information security to protect College data from unauthorised access and alterations to College records.

Divisional Directors and Managers: ensures that a local/divisional records management policy is approved and implemented across the Division.  Ensures that staff are aware of their responsibilities and receive appropriate training.

Divisional Records Officer: responsible for the development and maintenance of records management processes throughout the division, overseeing and advising on new storage systems, drawing up guidance for good records management practice, in line with ACRU advice, and promoting compliance with records management policies.  They also manage the custody of inactive records, conduct audits to identify vital records requiring long term or secure retention and arrange for their transfer to the College Archives.

All staff: must ensure they keep appropriate records of their work and manage those records, in College approved storage solutions, in keeping with any guidance produced.

External consultants: companies working on College projects are responsible for providing records relating to this work upon request in an approved filing system.

Why is it important to all staff?

Good records management conducted by all ensures that we know what records we hold, that they can be trusted, and where they can be found.   This supports the Division’s current and future operations by:

  • making better use of our time, enabling effective working,
  • saving on storage costs and space,
  • providing evidence of decisions made and actions carried out,
  • providing access to lessons learned for future decisions,
  • assuring business continuity following a disaster,
  • enabling compliance with legislative requirements,
  • supporting the College interests and rights of all College stakeholders.

What should we all be doing?

Tips for helping you protect your information

  • Understand why you are creating a record and why it needs to be retained – does it have business, financial, legal or cultural/historic value?
  • Use the Estates filing structure for work related records, avoid using personal drives/storage areas
  • Name your files so that they can be easily located when required
  • Protect records containing personal, business sensitive or confidential data from unauthorised access.
  • If you encrypt or password protect sensitive files, ensure that a trusted person ( for example, a colleague you work closely with, your manager or the Estates Records Officer) can access the password in the event of your absence.
  • Consider what format and storage method you use, to enable the records to be accessed for as long as they are needed in the future.
  • Review records regularly and destroy or delete those which are no longer required. For example, duplicates, reference material and superceded drafts.
  • Contact ACRU or the Estates Records & Archives Officer if you think the record has historic value.
  • Undertake training on Records Management, Freedom of Information and Data Protection
  • Ensure new staff are inducted on records management procedures.

How to store records

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File naming guidance

How we name documents, emails or folders is key to ease of access and identification. Increased use of cloud storage has made it even more vital to think about how file should be named, to ensure they can be accessed across different platforms.

In general, a title should be:

  • Descriptive – it says what the document is about;
  • Helpful – it distinguishes the document from others of a similar topic;
  • Consistent – it follows standard convention;
  • Concise – file names should not be too long.

Making your files identifiable

File names should be unique, easily identifiable and consistent. If a file is viewed out of context from its folder location it should be easy to understand what it relates to.  For example, 2019-12-12Minutes doesn’t give any clues on the subject and there may be many other files for minutes for a multitude of topics. Whereas 2019-12-04BLKT1901TAGMinutes identifies that it was for project BLKT1901 and was for the TAG meeting.

Project related files must include the project number in the title. Do not insert a space between the building code and number. Ie CAGB1601 not CAGB 1601

Short but meaningful

Make your file names as short as they can be whilst still making sense to others.  A few suggestions to help with this:

  • Words such as “and” and “the” add length to the name but do not contribute to the meaning.
  • Avoid unnecessary spaces.
  • Avoid word repetition (such as multiple use of "re" or "fwd" in an email)
  • If using a dash “-“ it does not need a space either side in a file name.
  • Use abbreviations where the word remains easy to understand but avoid codes, acronyms or abbreviations that are not widely known.


Every subfolder created adds to the file path of the file name.  For Windows systems, this is usually limited to 260 characters, so if creating files in another system be aware that a long file path could make files inaccessible or corrupted if viewed on a different system.

What is the file path? If you right click on a file, select Properties, and next to Location you will find the file path.  Example: X:\Made up name\This folder\That folder\Templates contains 50 characters. Add the number of characters in your file name, including spaces, and that is the total length of the file path.

Try to avoid multiple nested sub-folders and repetition in their titles. Was that sub-folder needed if the subject could be easily identified from the file names? This can often happen when extracting files from a zipped file, creating an extra sub-folder within the folder where the files were directed to save to.

However, when setting up files within Box and giving a collaborator access to a sub-folder, the title must be clearly understood as they won’t see the nested files above to make sense of its context.  A common-sense balance needs to be made to ensure access on all systems where the files are likely to be viewed.

Avoid using non-alphanumeric characters.

Operating systems and cloud storage systems can all have different file naming requirements.  Even if your system permits use of certain characters there may be difficulties if the file is accessed on another operating system. This can result in the file being automatically renamed by the receiving system or becoming inaccessible or corrupted.  Examples of characters to be avoided include:

  • < (less than)
  • > (greater than)
  • : (colon)
  • " (double quote)
  • / (forward slash)
  • \ (backslash)
  • | (vertical bar or pipe)
  • ? (question mark)
  • ! (exclamation mark)
  • £ (pound sign)
  • * (asterisk)

The full stop symbol ( . ) should be used with caution and particularly not to be used at the end of a file name, as it can be confused with the file extension.  The underscore symbol ( _ ) also should be avoided for documents used on the web.

Using numbers in file names

To ensure files are arranged in the correct numeric order, include the zero for numbers 0-9 (or 00 if the sequence is likely to be over 100). For example: 01, 02, 03 .... or 001, 002, 010, 020, 021, 022 etc, depending on how long the sequence is likely to be.

Dates and times should always follow the BS ISO 8601:2004 basic format of YYYY-MM-DD. For example, 21st January 2019 would be written as 2019-01-21. The files can now be arranged in chronological order, facilitating access to the latest record.

Version numbers

A consistent system for version numbers helps everyone know which copy of a document they should refer to, providing an audit trail and reduce confusion over which is the current version.  Inclusion of the version number and date within the footer of the document itself is also good practice. Decimal increments should be used to distinguish between major and minor changes, with the inclusion of “draft” or “file” at the end of a file name if required.  For example:

  • first draft may be v0.1draft, followed by v0.2 draft;
  • final version would then be v1.0;
  • a minor update to this final version would be v1.1;
  • a major update moves to the next revision number v2.0.

Naming correspondence files and emails

Consider how emails are titled, as this may generate a long file name or contain inappropriate characters if you or the recipient use email filing software. If you are manually renaming emails for filing, the recommendation is to include the following elements:

  • Name of correspondent (surname and initial);
  • Subject description (keeping it brief);
  • date of correspondence (and time where necessary);
  • type of correspondence (“re”, “fwd” etc).

Remove any surplus characters when saving correspondence from your email system. For example, multiple uses of “re” or “few”, unnecessary spacing or punctuation; and any unsuitable non-alphanumeric characters.

File naming for the web

When naming files for the college website, avoid use of spaces and punctuation (other than -).  Use of uppercase characters is also not recommended.

An updated version of a file must be named exactly the same as the existing version.  This enables the new file to directly overwrite the original and maintain all hyperlinks to the document.  Any change in version MUST be denoted in the footer of the document and can also be included in the descriptive text within the website media library.

For more advice on file naming for the web, contact either the Estates Records & Archives Officer or the Estates Communications Officer.  Refer also to the College web guide pages for further guidance

Records related legislation

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Project filing

Project files are created to manage project related documentation for all projects/change to College spaces, infrastructure and services.  A standardised structure is set up using Box cloud storage to enable the Estates Division to collaborate better on projects; and can provide access to an external project team where required.

A project number should be registered, and the file set up as soon as records are being created. This should not wait until the project is approved, as early stage records can hold vital evidence and as such should be retained in a managed system.

Project registration

The Estates Records & Archives Officer is responsible for registering project numbers and setting up the project file.
As soon as a proposal for a project/change is being discussed, contact the Estates Records & Archives Officer, providing the following information:

  • location of works (room/floor level/building)
  • suggested project title
  • access requirements (anyone outside of Estates to be given access at this stage, or restrictions)

The project file is created on Box, registered on the Project Records database and allocated a project number, consisting of the building code and four numbers relating to year and number of project.  This project number must be used on all project documentation and correspondence. Hard copy files are no longer set up as standard, but can be set up on request if required.

If an early stage project feasibility is particularly sensitive, contact the Estates Records & Archives Officer for advice on the best storage location. Personal storage areas (such as OneDrive, H:drive, desktop, C:Drive, personal folders on BOX or other cloud storage) should not be used.

During the project

The Project Manager holds responsibility for maintaining the content and access to the file for the duration of the project and defects period.  External Project Managers should be given access to the file by the internal Project Manager/Senior Supplier and are responsible for ensuring that any project records saved on external document management systems are also saved in the Estates project filing system.

The collaborative project filing structure on Box facilitates access to external members of the project team, whilst keeping more sensitive and financial records restricted to internal access only.  A Box Project Filing Schedule is included within the folder; and Minor Works projects have a simplified version of the same structure.

It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to give access to external collaborators, ensuring that they are only given access to the Collaboration folder or sub-folders within.  Note that the top-level folders include the project number; if access is given at sub-folder access the folder name should be renamed to include the project number so that collaborators working on multiple projects can clearly identify each one within their root level folder.

Correspondence also constitutes a record and copies of any emails which provide evidence of decisions made or transactions carried out must be saved in the Project Filing system.  Contact the Estates Records & Archives Officer if you need advice on filing emails or wish to install the Mail Manager email filing app within Outlook.

Contract documentation

Contract documentation contains confidential and business sensitive information and must be stored in an access restricted location.

Electronic copies are uploaded to the project file by the Finance Category Manager, in the section accessible only to divisional staff.  Hard copies and any physical electronic storage media are transferred to the Estates Records & Archives Officer, who logs them on the College records database and arranges access restricted storage.

Project completion

Upon practical completion of the project, the Project Manager must ensure all filing saved elsewhere is transferred to the project file. The internal Project Manager is responsible for ensuring that this is undertaken by any external Project Managers appointed before their contractual agreement on the project ends.


When the project has been financially closed out and all defects resolved, the project file is closed and archived.  The Project Manager should notify the Estates Records & Archives Officer upon closure of the cost code.  If an extension of time is needed for business or on-going defects, they are to notify the Estates Records & Archives Officer to keep the file open for an agreed extension of time.

The Estates Records & Archives Officer reviews the project file, logging the contents on the College records database and assigning a retention date in accordance with the College Retention Schedule.  The electronic file is then transferred to secure digital storage for the retention period. Hard copy records and those which require long term/permanent retention for legal, regulatory, business or cultural/historic purposes are transferred to the College Archives & Corporate Records Unit (ACRU), assigning a transfer number which is referenced against the records for the duration of their retention.

Warranties, certificates, as-built drawings and operational maintenance records should be issued separately in the Operating & Maintenance manuals and are not required to be duplicated in the archived project file.


Project files that have reached or exceeded their stated retention period are reviewed and prepared for destruction, where there is no legal requirement to retain this information beyond those dates.  All records scheduled for destruction will be documented by the Estates Records & Archives Officer and an authorisation to destroy from the Project Manager or from the Director of Estates Projects will be obtained before any action is carried out.

As-built project records: operating & maintenance manuals; drawings

Provision of reliable information on changes to services and infrastructure is essential to ensure continued maintenance to College buildings and provide a background for future renovation works. The issue of record documents – which include Operation & Maintenance Manuals (O&Ms), As-built drawings, asset registers and 3D digital information – is a required deliverable of a construction project and should be issued formally by the Principal Contractor upon completion.  These should be produced to Imperial College agreed standards as described in the following paragraphs.

Record Document strategy meeting

To ensure timely production of the manuals and as-built drawings, a record document strategy meeting is to be arranged once the Contractor has been appointed.  For complex, large or phased projects, a preliminary strategy meeting should take place during Stage 1-2, to allow for specific requirements to be incorporated into the tender documentation.

Guidelines and Technical Author Appointment.

The Contractor should appoint a Technical Author from the College’s approved list of suppliers to produce the Building Fabric Manual and Operating & Maintenance Manuals (O&Ms).   All manuals should be produced in accordance with the following guideline documents.  The Record Document Process Guidelines provide an overview of the requirements and responsibilities of the project team; this is accompanied by a pair of technical guidelines which provide detailed information on the standard content, format and layout of the manuals.

These documents should be included in the Contractors' tender and contract, but reference must be made to the versions linked to on this page to ensure that the most recent revision is being used. These guidelines align with project specific Employers Information Requirements (EIR) which is issued by College Building Information Manager for all projects.

Minor Works

For minor refurbishments, where the scope of works may not warrant a full set of O&Ms, a Minor Works Install Record should instead be completed and issued to the Estates Records & Archives Officer, providing a concise summary of the works carried out and components installed.  This should be agreed with the Estates Records & Archives Officer and Building Information Manager to ensure record document requirements are included in the budget and contractor tenders.

As-built / As-installed drawings

Any alterations to the College’s buildings or services should also be documented in drawings (and 3D digital information where applicable) delivered by the Contractor in As-built / As-installed status.  These must be produced in accordance with the project specific EIR produced at start of project and included within the Contractor’s tender documentation.

Delivery of records

The full set of completed record documentation should be delivered in the format outlined in the guidelines, or otherwise agreed at the Record Document Strategy Meeting, to the Estates Records & Archives Officer.  Access copies of these records are then uploaded to the O&M Viewer on BOX, accessible to all Estates staff and other users (internal or external to the College) upon request.

How long do records have to be kept?

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What help and training is available?


A tailored presentation on Records Management for Estates is offered to Estates staff on a regular basis.  Refer to the Estates newsletters and bulletins for announcements on the next dates and sign up via ICIS.

The Estates Records & Archives Officer also provides induction for new starters within Estates on Records Management best practice and can also give tailored one-to-one training on any of the areas covered in this page.  Contact the Estates Records & Archives Officer for further information.

A guideline document to get started using Box cloud storage has been tailored for Estates’ use from Box’s official help pages.


The guidelines provided on this page align with the recommendations of Imperial College’s Corporate Records and Archives Unit (ACRU).  Refer to their pages for additional guidance or contact them directly for anything relating to College records.

College training courses

The following training courses are offered by the College’s Learning & Development Centre (LDC).  Refer to LDC’s pages to enrol on any of the following courses.

  • Records Management e-learning
  • Information Security Awareness
  • Data Protection e-learning
  • Freedom of Information e-learning

Further Links to policies, procedures and guidance

Data related policies within Imperial College

External authorities: