Records Management with SharePoint – part 1

SharePoint 2010 has some great capabilities for implementing a true Records Management policy.  Let’s explore both the capabilities as well as limitations, and how to extend SharePoint to create a true enterprise-class Records Management system.

The overarching goal in Records Management is to ensure Records are handled in a manner that is consistent with the organization’s Records policy.  So first a policy must be defined across the enterprise, and then all systems including SharePoint must manage documents in a policy-compliant, automated, user-friendly and auditable fashion.  Strategically we want to:

  • Limit demands on the user
    Simplify metadata tagging, and hide records jargon from end-users
  • Policy based disposition
    Automate disposition to eliminate the dependency on end-users to take action on each document.
  • Enhanced reporting
    Enable users to self-satisfy, to explore document expiration and disposition.

First let’s clarify what Records are.  Not all documents are Records.  SharePoint offers a range of capabilities in support of defining and managing records:

  • Records can be managed centrally or in-place
    Central management through sending documents to a “Record Center” offers the ultimate in centralized control, search, storage, security and administration.  However there is a real impact on end-users when Records are moved from their usual home.  SharePoint offers “In-Place Records Management” which is the direction the industry seems to be heading.
  • Records can be blocked from deletion
    End users can be prevented from deleting a Record, which makes sense, as Records Management by definition provides policy for treating Records.
  • Records can be stripped of versions
    This reducing the frequency that multiple versions of a Record are stored.
  • Records can be made read-only
    This can be used to lock down a record so it does not change.
  • Records can and likely do have their own expiration and disposition rules
    SharePoint allows a different policy to be applied to a document if it is a record.
  • Records are quickly identified
    Searching, sorting, filtering are available to identify records.  Documents that are records are also easily identified by a special record mark on the document icon.

Below are the pieces of the puzzle, each of which I will devote an article to addressing:

  1. Define your information architecture
  2. Creating a centrally managed set of Content Types with Information Policies
  3. Wrestling an unstructured set of sites, libraries and documents into a centrally managed information architecture
  4. Document Disposition in SharePoint
  5. Customizing the Expiration Date calculation
  6. Reporting on pending document disposition in SharePoint
  7. Review and approval of document disposition
  8. Control the timing of document disposition

I’m going to delve into how to accomplish the above to define and put in place a Records Management policy and system across an enterprise.

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