Records Management in SharePoint 2010

A record is a document or other electronic or physical entity in an organization that serves as evidence of an activity or transaction performed by the organization and that requires retention for some time period.

Records Management (RM) Lifecycle Process

The typical process lifecycle of Records Management is as shown below. Confidential client documents (financial, personnel documents), legal and regulatory documents and intellectual property rights documents must be stored in a secure, easily accessible way. You also expect the RM system to be auditable which allows tracking of who accessed the document and what changes were done. The RM system must be capable of automatically routing the documents to appropriate folders based on certain key metadata and the RM system must also be able to perform effective searches and narrowing of search results by tags. The RM System must also allow companies to make better decisions in the future by allowing building business intelligence reporting on the entities that are saved as records.

Records-Management -Lifecycle-Process.jpg

Figure 1: Records Management Lifecycle

Information Management Policy

The organization can decide whether Records Management should be a rules-driven process or a manual process or a combination of both. For example, a rules based process could be a policy that a document stored in a particular folder or library makes it implicitly a record. For example, a medical bills submission. Once the bills are submitted for approval in a particular folder it becomes a record.

For a manual process the example could be a statement of work. Once the signed statement of work is received from the client, the project manager would want to declare it as a record, not allowing anyone to modify or delete it.
Hence implementing a Records Management solution typically depends on the organization's policies for managing information.

Implementing Records Management in SharePoint 2010

File Plan

The file plan is the primary Records Management planning document in SharePoint Server 2010. The file plan typically:

  • Describes the kinds of items and content types the organization acknowledges to be records
  • Describes what the broader category of records the items and content types belong to
  • Indicate where records will be stored
  • Describes retention periods for records
  • Assigns responsibilities for managing the records

The organization's Governance board is typically responsible for creating the file plan.

Designing Records Management Solution in SharePoint 2010

The Records Management solution in SharePoint 2010 can be designed in three ways; In-Place Records Management, a centralized Records Center Site or a combination of In-Place and Records Center Site.

In Place Records Management

In this solution the user can manually declare a document as a record. The document remains in the same library i.e. does not move to another library or site collection. Depending on the site's policy, once declared as a record the user may or may not be allowed to modify or delete the document. This approach provides flexibility and ease of use to the user.


Records Center Site

This is a centralized Records Management solution. It also supports non-document types of Records Management. For ex.: integration with Exchange for email Records Management. It has the ability to route documents to correct destination folders without human intervention with the help of a Content Organization feature.

This is a site collection type. Documents and Non-documents are automatically routed to this site collection to implicitly become records.


Combination of both

The third architecture could be a combination of both In-place and Centralized Records Center.

A command in the Office Ribbon can be developed so that users can access the Records Management application from within any Microsoft Office 2007 program with a single mouse-click to store a completed document.

The metadata information that a user enters can be used to automatically route the record to the appropriate site, and then to more detailed category folders for the type of document within the site, such as Team Meetings, Bugs, or presentations.

Records Archival vs. Records Declaration

Archiving is storing documents for a certain period of time that may or may not have importance for the business from a legal or compliance perspective. It is like taking your regular backups and saving data for usage in case of current data failure.
Declaring an entity (document or email) as a record means that that entity has legal and regulatory importance for the organization.