SharePoint 2010 : Making Enterprise Content Management Work - Records Management (part 1) - Record Declaration, Information Management Policies

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7/11/2013 8:47:07 PM

Records Management in SharePoint 2010 enables you to manage business documents that are necessary for regulatory compliance, business continuity, or historical interest. Records management is not new to SharePoint 2010, but it has been enhanced to allow both in-place records management in addition to the ability to move documents to a specific records center (leaving a permanent link to the new physical location in its place). In a nutshell, records management involves declaring a record, setting polices, and auditing around documents. It’s an effective way to ensure that historical content is maintained, not deleted, and does not burden search engines and content navigation.

1. Record Declaration

To start off, which will you use: in-place records declaration or the records archive? You’ll likely use both and will need to decide which and when. There are certain items you need to consider:

  • Record retention rules

  • Which users can view records

  • Ease of locating records (collaborative users versus Records Manager)

  • Maintaining each version as a record—do you need this?

  • Records Auditing—how often will you audit records?

  • Site organization (and number of sites used)—what does your IA look like?

  • E-discovery

  • Security

If you plan to use a records archive, you will need someone in a records manager role to ensure that records are managed well and that rules are followed. Your records manager will need to work closely with your general counsel, compliance officers, and information architect to ensure protected content is properly identified. For some content, they will likely set up a records archive using the Records Center template (Figure 1). Other content could be managed using in-place records management as described in the next section.

Figure 1. The Records Center template enables you to create a site specifically geared toward enterprise records management

You can also declare records in-place. This requires you to enable a Site Collection-level feature called In-place Records Management (see Figure 2). Once you enable in-place records management, you can then enable manual declaration of records either at the Site Collection level or at the document library level (under Record declaration settings). You can also automatically declare items as records when they are added to certain lists or libraries. After you enable manual declaration of records, users will see a new action in the ribbon that allows them to declare items as records (see Figure 3).

Figure 2. You can enable in-place records management through a Site Collection-level feature

Figure 3. Once the ability to manually declare a record is enabled, users can declare records in-place

2. Auditing

For many organizations, especially those in industries that require a high level of regulatory compliance, storing documents in a repository is not enough. It is just as important to manage the activity around those documents. Activity management is all about auditing or recording the details around what happened to a particular document across its life cycle. Examples of audit information include things such as: Who added particular sections and when? When was this document approved and by whom? What did this document look like on a certain date? What are the rules around document retention?

An even more granular audit requirement is the ability to record viewing statistics associated with a particular document. Let’s say you have a new corporate policy that requires executive approval prior to publishing. The information in the document is so sensitive that you may want to know who viewed this document prior to its approved state. As you can see, auditing spills over into accountability. Because of this, it is important to have a robust records management solution in place to properly track and record all details associated with portal content.

SharePoint 2010 delivers on the goal of effective records management by providing a system that allows auditing on documents or any list item. SharePoint 2010 provides auditing capabilities for tracking specific events like when a document was opened or viewed, when a document was edited, when a document was checked out, and even when a document was moved to a new location. All of this is built right into the SharePoint 2010 system interface and is easily configured as part of a list or library definition.

In addition to item-level auditing, SharePoint 2010 also provides auditing at a specific site level. This is an especially interesting feature as it allows site managers to track when security changes were made within the site and when metadata associated with a particular document were altered. Think about the impact of such a feature! Administrators can be assured that policies about site security and/or document definition can be effectively monitored and enforced. This is how the term compliance gets introduced in the SharePoint 2010 feature set.

Only administrators can see details on audit data. Content contributors, whose activities are be tracked, do not have access to audit reports. In addition, no one is allowed to edit or alter audit data. This lockdown ensures that audit trails are always complete and accurate. In addition, audit policies themselves can be audited so administrators can assess how well certain policies are being followed. This rules-based approach is yet another reason why SharePoint can support restricted and sensitive information. Everything is monitored; polices are always tracked.

3. Information Management Policies

We’ve briefly talked about applying audit policies to specific document or list items in SharePoint 2010. One of the obvious questions is, how do you ensure that these policies are in place, in all the right places? SharePoint 2010 provides the ability to set Information Management Policies as a means for administrators (or records managers) to define the proper audit policies as well as apply them to all relevant locations so no one has to worry about these policies extending into new sites or documents.

As with most SharePoint 2010 functionality, Information Management Policies management is built right into the interface. This allows administrators or records managers to define policies directly in the Site Settings of a particular document or site. In the Permissions and Policies section, there is a link for Information management policy settings. This is where policy is defined and applied.

Setting and administration of Information Management Policies is intended to be simple and intuitive. No special skills are required to define policies. For end users, the experience is just as simple. When a policy is in place around a particular document, the user is made aware by a notification bar at the top of the document. All other functionality is the same as if there were not an Information Management Policy in place.

While there are several Information Management Policy use cases, let’s look at a specific example associated with an expiration policy. Very much like metadata capture, document expiration is critical to the overall effectiveness of portal document delivery. Few documents should live forever (at least in the context of the corporate portal). Over time, most documents become less relevant and therefore should be either reviewed and revised or moved out of the mainstream. Without rules and policies in place, this becomes an overwhelming burden for document administrators. Who can be responsible for investigating all documents for usefulness?

SharePoint 2010 introduces the ability to have multistage expiration policies, which is a set of rules for executing activity on a particular document or group of documents. This is a two-step process.

The first step is to define when a document will encounter an expiration trigger. This is most easily done with logic against known metadata (another reason to properly tag content!). While most rules will be date driven (for example, expire after 180 days), any metadata can be used to drive expiration, including a Records Retention Code.

The second step in the policy definition is to define what happens to the document when the criteria are met. This can take many forms; you can delete the document from the repository or perhaps launch a SharePoint-based workflow that can move that document to an archive location. By setting expiration rules, administrators and records managers can ensure that the portal always contains relevant and timely data. See Figure 4  for the compliance details on an item; note that the item has a multistage retention policy.

Figure 4. You can view the compliance details on any document, where you can see the document’s scheduled retention policy, record and hold status, and audit information
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