The Records Management story with SharePoint has been evolving for several years now. I talk to many organizations that are in the midst of deploying SharePoint records management or looking at using SharePoint for records management. SharePoint is a great System of Engagement (SOE), but many don’t realize it is also a System of Record (SOR).
Before we dive in, here are a few other articles that discuss SharePoint Records Management that you might be interested in.
Introducing Records Management in SharePoint 2010
Policy and Retention in SharePoint Server 2010
SharePoint Records Management Speaks with Adam Harmetz on SharePoint 2013
Like a fine wine or levelling your Pokémon, SharePoint records management has been steadily improving with age and experience. With the SharePoint Server 2010 release and now with Office 365, SharePoint is all grown up as a records management solution and many are taking notice. Yes, SharePoint can scale and support robust records management. Nowadays you might consider it a 1978 Chateau Margaux, or level 80 Charizard. Yes, I just compared SharePoint to wine and Pokémon.
You can use SharePoint Records Management out of box, customize it, or find partner solutions depending on the level of your needs.
I can say at Microsoft, we have tens of terabytes in Records Centres with more data every day. We use it completely out of box. To learn more check out the case study: Microsoft Boosts Records Management with Built-in Features of Collaboration Solution. We only have about 1TB in Records Centres in Office 365 but that will soon change with the new 1TB site collection & unlimited tenant size limits.
So what are the key areas you need to think about as you start growing your own SharePoint Records Management Pokémon?
SharePoint Version: I would suggest you take a serious look at Office 365. With Office 365 you are always on the latest version and Microsoft takes care of the servers and scale for you. All of the Records Centre features are available in Office 365. There are some limitations around customizing with code. For example you cannot use custom retention formulas, declare records through code, or access the audit logs through code. But you can syndicate record content types through the content type hub, configure retention policies, and use the content organizer to distribute records into folders and across site collections. SharePoint 2010 is where the SharePoint Records Management story really started to reach maturity so either SharePoint 2010 or 2013 on premises is a good option. However, search is greatly improved in 2013, quick edit of multiple lines in lists is super useful, and your litigation team will be begging you to upgrade to the 2013 eDiscovery features.
Retention: Information management policies let you configure retention a.k.a. expiration a.k.a. deletion. You can configure retention per content type (the primary document classification) or separately per library and folder. You can even do multiple stages. For example 3 years after modified date, send to records centre, 1 year later, permanently delete. You can base the expiration date on any date field on the content type.
Classification: You need to map out your content types and what metadata will be on each content type. Content types are the schema, the metadata fields available when you upload a document. I have heard some organizations try and figure out how they get from thousands of classifications to a manageable amount of content types. Simplify your classifications, it will save you effort and management issues down the road. At Microsoft we went from thousands to 65. I have heard of one customer even getting to just two content types despite 1PB of records. You also need to define your taxonomies, columns (metadata), and if you need them on multiple site collections you use the content type hub to publish the content types out across all site collections. Now you have the same content types and metadata in every Records Centre. Add a couple levels to your Recordisaur.
Records Strategy: How will people create and manage records over time? I have seen three approaches. 1. In-place, 2. In the Records Centre, and 3. Hybrid.
In-place: Use the declare in-place records feature so people can declare records to follow a record specific retention policy.
In the Records Centre: Most of the lifecycle of records is in the Records Centre. The records are usually created directly in Records Centres and remain there throughout their life. This makes a lot of sense for tax records, financial statements, and employement records where people can create and manage a bunch of them all in one place.
Hybrid: Users can declare records In-Place or use Send To, this will then either move or copy the record to a Records Centre where the appropriate metadata and retention policy will then be assigned and the record will live out the rest of its life.
In practice, hybrid and in the Records Centre seem to be most common. Successful in-place strategies are rare because it is difficult to train everyone on what records are and how to declare a record. Instead most organizations seem to rely on people who deal with records to use solutions to ingest content when the content is ready to become a record.
So with that overview, let’s see how our little Records Management Pokemon (or Recordimander, Recordisaur, and Recordizard as I like to call him) has evolved over time. The following table shows the new Records Management capabilities that have been added with each new version of SharePoint Server.
SharePoint 2007 Recordimander
SharePoint 2010 Recordisaur
SharePoint 2013 Recordizard
Manually add items to hold
Use search to add items to hold within a site collection
eDiscovery Center that searches all SharePoint sites
Block edit and delete in Records Centre
Block edit and delete on individual items anywhere
In-Place Hold for entire site, doesn’t affect users
Information Management Policy
Delete based on metadata
Start a workflow
Content type based only
Folder & content type based
Available in all sites
Site policies delete entire site
Auditing in Records Centre
Per item audit reports
Site template for managing records
Records Centre updated
Records Centre Available in Office 365
2,000 items per folder
30 million items per library
Distributed records centers
1TB site collections & unlimited tenants in O365
60 million items per site collection
Library File Plan Reports
Hierarchal File Plans
Rule based file organization
DoD 5015.2 Add On Pack
Consider partners such as Gimmal or Collabware
Barcodes & Labels
CMIS in SharePoint Admin Toolkit Add On Pack
CMIS APIs are part of SharePoint
Content Types & Metadata
Content types define documents and their metadata
Content type hub
Send to Records Centre
Sent to any site with a content organizer
Send To in Office 365
Declare in-place records anywhere
Browse and Search
Content Query Webpart
Content Search Web Part
FAST Search built in
Thank you for learning more about SharePoint records management. But this is far from the final word. In fact, like top earning movie sequels there is so much awesomeness here I am splitting this overview into two parts. Look for part two coming in just a few days. In the next article I will explain additional SharePoint Records Management considerations including: physical records, scale, DoD 5015.2, distribution, organization, and eDiscovery.
Quentin Christensen, Program Manager
You state that "search is greatly improved in 2013" - in what ways? We have SP2013, were promised that search capabilities would be greatly expanded, but still see nothing more than "google-style" single keyword searches that are almost worthless. No change,
no improvement...is it just our IT staff does not understand implementing SP2013?
There are a lot of improvements under the covers as well as new capabilities to customize the search experience. My Overview of ECM post shows some of the main changes in Search over the years.
You can see that here:
Here are a few of the top new things in 2013 Search.
FAST Search built in, continuous crawling, improved relevance, and improved UX:
Content Search Web Part: