Configuring Records Management (RM) in SharePoint 2010

Research for this article is from here

Records management – the storing and finding of records

  1. Identifying who has the responsibility for records management
  2. legal and business requirements
  3. determining record types
  4. Locating current records and their format
  5. Establishing taxonomy and defining metadata
  6. Creation of retention/disposition schedules
  7. How to show proof of destruction at end of a records lifecycle

SharePoint 2010 supports RM via features such as multiple stage retention policies, managed metadata, Content Organizer, in-place records declaration, holds and eDiscovery, and search. Documents submitted to the SharePoint Records Center become locked as a record. Unique Document IDs are assigned by the system to each document and maintained with the record so that if it is moved, the document can be located via the ID. Compliance details including the retention stages, content type, exemption status, hold status, record status and generation of an audit log are available for individual SharePoint items. Routing of records is handled by the Content Organizer based on pre-defined routing rules. A threshold can also be set for the folders within a document library to limit the number of items it can hold, automatically generating new folder.

Managed metadata as a key document property. Creation of routing rules is based on content types and can contain multiple conditions. Using managed metadata in conditions allows for a centralized team to manage large amounts of metadata information. Routing rules are stored in the Content Organizer Rules list for ease of creation and editing. The retention policies for records can be placed on content types or at the library/folder level with the capability to start a workflow.

Other features include auditing, bar codes and labels. Holds can be placed on an individual item or in multiples by using the search and hold capability. This reduces the burden during eDiscovery and allows for central management of hold activities. The Compliance Details dialog can be found on all record and non-record content in a SharePoint 2010 library.  It is essentially a list of settings that provide business information about the document or record.

Finding records with Document ID or a well thought out file plan where records will be available in a properly named and hierarchical folder structure. Metadata plays a huge role in locating records as metadata navigation can be applied to a document library. Lastly, SharePoint’s search capabilities offer the best combination for records locating as it leverages the power of search coupled with the ability to filter by metadata.

RM Definitions

The information lifecycle Model

A succession of conditions through which information is processed, from creation (or receipt) to final disposition.  These conditions are called ‘states’.  When a document moves from one state to another, one or more processes occur depending on the particular needs of the organization. Each organization must determine what different states its information passes through, but a typical lifecycle may look like this: Temporary > Draft > Final. Changing states in SharePoint this would likely be done by changing the value of one of the columns in the document’s content type. A document could be published to a portal or emailed to a partner where the organization may have a requirement to declare the final document a record, so a process would fire that automatically sends a copy to the Records Center.  These processes should be initiated in a way that is completely transparent to the information worker who created the document, so we have the potential to significantly lower the burden on the end user, but still consistently enforce the organization’s policies and standards.




Record’ is easily the most misunderstood word in Enterprise Content Management.  There are essentially two very different types definitions for ‘Record’.  One type I call the ‘organizational’ definition – meaning the organization is responsible for determining what type of information it considers an official ‘record’.  These descriptions are based on the content and context of the material, rather than the its format.  For this reason, an email from a customer that says the customer has accepted the organization’s proposal would typically be considered a record, and should be managed as such.  An email from your buddy verifying your tee time would not.

But SharePoint is not concerned with the content or the context of a record.  In SharePoint, a record is any piece of information that is subject to organizational business rules that require it to be rendered immutable and assigned a retention period.   This is the second type of definition for ‘Record’, which I call the ‘functional’ definition.


I’m speaking in broad terms here, so please bear with me.  In SharePoint a document is any unstructured content that has not been declared a record. Generally speaking, there are no rules preventing documents from being modified or deleted.  Documents can be spreadsheets, images, emails or any other piece of electronically stored information that resides in SharePoint.

File Plan

A classification scheme in the SharePoint Records Center used to categorize a record based on its security, retention and disposition requirements.  SharePoint uses the File Plan to apply an organization’s official retention schedule.  (Though, to be clear, expiration policies can be applied to material outside of the Records Center, as well.)

A typical file plan in a SharePoint implementation might include a Records Center Library for all Human Resources records.  The Human Resources Library may contain a folder called ‘Medical Benefits’.  This folder may have multiple subfolders for each employee in the organization.  A signed medical benefits agreement for John Smith would be classified into the file plan under Human Resources > Medical Benefits > Smith, John.

Appropriate permissions would be applied throughout the file plan and, in SharePoint 2010, different retention requirements could be applied at each file plan level, as necessary.

Content Type

Broadly speaking, a Content Type is a reusable collection of settings that apply to a specific set of SharePoint content.  Content Types are designed to help organize SharePoint content in meaningful ways.  Content Types allow you manage document metadata and behaviour in a centralized and reusable manner.

In records management terms, Content Types loosely parallel a Record Series, such as ‘Expense Report’ or ‘Annual Review’.  In SharePoint 2010, record classification is determined by a combination of Content Type and user designated metadata values.

Master Sites and automated site provisioning.

Automated site provisioning allows an organization to quickly and easily commission standard SharePoint sites across an organization.  With automated site provisioning your organization can apply such things as standard taxonomy elements, information lifecycles, search, and security settings in exactly the same manner in every site you create.  This allows you to enforce site standards while still allowing your users the flexibility to customize SharePoint for their own purposes. A master site is just what it sounds like: a central location for all your organization’s standard Content Types, metadata and Information Management Policies.  They enable the design and retention of content to be defined in a single place.