SharePoint 2010 Records Management Overview
Guest Author: Michal Pisarek
Before we dive in to creating our Records Management solution its worth to overview the various tools and features that we will use to construct our solution. SharePoint 2010 has come leaps and bounds in Enterprise Content Management, a vast range of these tools can be applied to our Records Management solution as well.
In forming a solution it is worth to try to determine what we are trying to accomplish. In essence Records Management refers to the practice of maintaining the records of an organization from the time they are created up to their eventual disposal. This may include classifying, storing, securing, and destruction (or in some cases, archival preservation) of records (thank you WikiPedia!)
But in essence we want to achieve the following:
- A way to construct content that will become records
- A way to classify records
- A way to store and secure records
- A way to report on records
- what are the tools that we can use to accomplish this?
Constructing content in the SharePoint sense is the definition, creation and upkeep of Content Types. The great thing about using SharePoint as a Records Management platform is that all content can be managed from a central location.
SharePoint 2010 however adds two vital features that aid in the creating of Content Types:
Content Type Syndication (CTS)
This to me is the unsung hero of the SharePoint 2010 platform. CTS allow us to define and manage the lifecycle of Content Types in one central location, with the ability to publish Content Types across Site Collections, Web Application and even Farms. This was a huge issue in MOSS 2007 as updating Content Types across Site Collections was problematic at best.
Now we can define our Content Types, with metadata, templates and in our Records Management mind set Information Management Policies, from one location and control those Content Types effectively.
Just as CTS allowed us to centrally managed Content Types, the Managed Metadata Service provides the ability to centrally define metadata attached to Content Types. This gives us the ability to easily control the metadata that is so vital in order not to construct but also to classify and report on records.
Managed metadata also offers huge advantages in terms of the interface it presents to users. It makes entering metadata easier, and the more information that users add to their content, the better it can be classified and managed within a Records Management Scenario.
Information Management Policies with Multi-stage Retention
This is one of the many improvements in SharePoint 2010 that is specific to Records Management. The ability to define retention schedules that have predefined triggers and associated actions closely models how many of the big players in the Records Management space work.
In essence it will allow us to control content as it moves from stage to stage in our retention plan, and with the addition of CTS we can neatly wrap these retention policies up in our Content Types and distribute them across the entire farm.
Interestingly this is one of the new features of the platform that hasn’t got much attention, but I love it. You can now define default metadata at the document library level for any column that is present. In Records Management I really like this because we can route content to a folder and then automatically add pre-defined metadata to it simply because it landed in that location.
It makes things easier and more consistent, helping us to classify our content a little more effectively.
Unique document Identifiers
One of the more highly touted features in the ECM toolkit of SharePoint 2010 is the concept of unique document identifiers. This will give us 2 major advantages in creating a Records Management solution. Firstly we can now associated a unique identifier to a piece of content and retain that identifier across the entire lifecycle of the document. This means we can be confident that the content has not been altered or tampered in any way.
More important however is the easy findability of the document, regardless of its location within SharePoint. A unique document identifier does not contain the location of the document when you are trying to retrieve it so a user can find a document regardless of whether it has moved to the Records Center or is anywhere else within the system.
Compliance information is now easily viewable from the context menu of any piece of content stored within SharePoint 2010. The more exposure that users have to routing policies, seeing if an item is a Record or other information such as Holds really help users understand the various policies that are attached to the content that they are using.
In Place Records Management
Another new ability is to mix Records and Non Records within the same library. This is a really cool feature that does make it much easier to get users to use the records management features inside of SharePoint since its now part of the user interface.
Now there is some tradeoffs to this approach and it is mainly to do with the fact that it is difficult to create complex routing rules using inplace records.
Multiple Send To Locations
With MOSS 2007 only one send to location could be defined. Now with SharePoint 2010 you have a whole host of options that can be leveraged in a Records Management scenario including new options when an item is sent, multiple locations to send to and the ability to actually hide send to location from users to distinguish items that have been moved manually and items that have been moved as part of a policy.
Store and Secure
Hierarchal File Plans
Another of the big feature changes for Records Management within SharePoint 2010 is the ability to create a hierarchal file plan. This relates to defining different disposition policies within different folders within our file plan.
The way that this is implemented within SharePoint 2010 is through the new ability to be able to specify the Information Management Policy source for content. We can now choose to override the disposition policies attached to a Content Type and use the policy defined in the folder.
Hierarchal file plans are a huge deal for Records Managers everywhere as it gives them the control to specify retention details down to a very granular level.
We also have a new Records Center template available that contains a number of useful features such as a in built Content Organizer, a search box where users can search for content by document identifier, a default Records Library to store records and an improved administrator interface.
The Content Organizer is the feature that will link our Content Types complete with metadata to our file plan. We will use the Content Organizer feature to organize documents within our file plan where they can then take on the retention rules defined on the folder that they belong in.
Electronic Discovery and Holds
The eDiscovery aspects of the platform have also been greatly enhanced. Now we can search for content and create legal holds to track actions such as litigations, investigations or audits when we need to suspend any alterations to content.
Although not strictly part of creating a Records Management solution, it is a vital part of the capabilities that SharePoint offers
Metadata Driven Navigation
Again tied with more with the ECM capabilities of the platform but vital in a Records Management scenario. Essentially if we have many documents in a records center we need some way to be able to navigate those documents, and it shouldn’t need to be via the file plan.
Metadata driven navigation gives us this capability, allowing us to quickly navigate even through the largest of file plans with ease!
So as you can see a lot of the new ECM aspects of the platform we will use to create our Records Management solution. Really what we are doing is not creating a Records Management solution but a small ECM solution that emphasizes the Records Management aspects of SharePoint. But that is one of the great features of the platform that we can use pieces of functionality on so many different levels to craft the solution that we need.
Stay tuned for the next installment when we start to define our Content Types and metadata using Content Type Syndication and the new Managed Metadata Service!
Guest Author: Michal Pisarek
Michal Pisarek is a solution specialist for Habañero Consulting Group, a Microsoft Gold Partner in beautiful Vancouver Canada. He has been working with SharePoint for 3 years and has a passion for finding the right balance between technology, innovation, governance and fun to meet his client’s needs.
- Create a Records Management Solution in SharePoint 2010
- SharePoint 2010 Records Management Overview