Part One

Like it or lump it. Classification for big bucket retention.

Splitters and lumpers

Two people look up at the sky and see a plane.

The first person points up and says: “Look it’s a jet plane”.
The second person responds: “Well actually it’s Boeing 737-900ER”.

Both are correct, but the first person is someone who defines things in broad categories, a lumper.  The second person is a splitter, someone who defines things in smaller categories. Referring to people as splitters and lumpers is common in biological sciences, particularly evolutionary science where classification of species depends on the importance placed on minor differences between individual animals. In the fossil record this has led to some traps for splitters who have created numerous hominid classifications where we might be looking at differences in size, age, gender, health within a single species. Whereas lumpers are criticised for accepting too many variations and therefore lumping different species within one category as in the case of Homo habilis.

Classification for records management

This kind of problem in classification is not just the preserve of the sciences. It is something most records managers must consider when devising a retention schedule. Especially if they are aiming for “big bucket retention” for their schedule. On the face of it you might think that big bucket retention would lend itself well to those who are better at lumping categories of records together. But creating meaningful large categories requires a good understanding of the details that dictate which small differences are significant and which ones are not.

Learning to be lumpers

Records management as a profession tends to attract people who like detail. You’d think this means our work requires us to be splitters. But the nature of our work increasingly requires us to be lumpers, as the scale of records management means we cannot practically apply retention rules and business classifications at such a granular level. This does mean that we as a profession have a tendency to  create schedules that are more complex. The very ambition of having a simple, big bucket schedule in our complex working environment is a bold one.

Compromise between simplicity and complexity

In the end it’s a constant process of compromise between the need for simplification and the need to ensure more complex records management requirements are accommodated.

Lumping records into “big buckets” does not mean we ignore the detail. In fact the detail must be understood to help us determine which records can be classed separately, and which can be safely lumped together.

This all sounds very challenging to do correctly, especially once you start to involve stakeholder who always make things complicated!  To provide some advice I’ve reflected on the years of experience writing and implementing retention schedules and I hope you find these posts a much more practical approach to the real world issues you will encounter while creating or re-creating your retention schedule. 

Of course if you have any questions about practical retention management please use the contact form on the right or email us

Out of control growth of records and documents held on SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and other applications is a problem common for many. The Compliance Centre provides records and Information Managers with a great toolset to help manage retention in Microsoft 365. But while what is on offer is very sophisticated, it’s not always entirely intuitive. It’s a steep learning curve, especially if you happen to come from an information industry background as opposed to a technical one.

There’s a lot of advice and guidance from SharePoint practitioners, which is really helpful but sometimes assumes a great deal of familiarity with Microsoft products. So we put together a few short demo videos providing an explanation of retention management in the Compliance Centre and how you might want to apply this – from a records management perspective. 

You can watch the snippet of our first demo below or for the full video and access to the full series visit our Youtube channel. We hope you find these useful to add to your learning and if you want to ask us any questions about the Compliance Centre please use our contact form on the right. 


It’s been a long time since we have had the opportunity to meet up with our associates, partners or clients face to face. So we were absolutely delighted to see so many at our Associate Night at the Edinboro Castle last week. There were many familiar faces there, some who we haven’t seen in over a year. And then there were those who we have only ever spoken via screens who we were excited to meet in person.

For some of us it was our first proper night out since early 2020. After over a year of restrictions we’ve learned to treasure what was previously something we took for granted; meeting colleagues at the pub for a good catch up. While we’ve all managed to continue to work remotely surprisingly well, nothing replaces the immediacy of a hug, a smile, or just enjoying being in the same space.

We hope those who attended our Associates Night enjoyed themselves as much as we at Metataxis did. And we hope that we get to see our friends and associates again very soon.

We are delighted to share that Judi Vernau, the director of Metataxis New Zealand, has just launched a new blog in collaboration with ISKO UK. Judi is a taxonomy and information architecture expert, and an ISKO committee member. A previous director of Metataxis UK, Judi is now settled in New Zealand, and her first blog entry sets the scene for discussing information architecture from a “kiwi” perspective. We look forward to future posts!

Read the first blog in the upcoming series here.

It’s official. Destruction is nice. Or so says the new Section 46 Code of Practice issued this month:

Destroying information is essential to maintaining an effective information management capability, and means that authorities avoid the unnecessary financial burden of searching, maintaining and storing information that is no longer needed.

While this is what records managers have been saying to their colleagues in IT and governance for years, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it put quite so bluntly before. 

The new Code of Practice is much more explicit than the previous 2016 version. Less space is given to discussing the benefits of following the Code  (which in retrospect seemed a little redundant) making way for clearer expectations around governance arrangements. Good governance is key to any information or records governance programme, so I’m glad to see this is given greater prominence here.

The principles of good practice remain the same but the new Code of Practice provides much clearer descriptions of how these work in practice which is both welcome and daunting. At Metataxis we know that it’s a difficult task meeting obligations which are fine in theory but are difficult to achieve in the reality of your information environment. Find out how we can help you turn general principles into practice. Contact us today.