Designing for in-place records management (SharePoint Server 2010)
Published: May 12, 2010
In Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 you can manage records in an archive, or you can use in-place records management, managing records in the same document repository as active documents. By using in-place records management, when you declare that a document is a record, it remains in the same location, but SharePoint Server 2010 now manages it as a record.
By using in-place records management in SharePoint Server 2010, you can:
Decide what actions will cause an active document to become a record. For example, a user could select an option to declare a document to be a record; a workflow could run after a specific event and turn an active document into a record; or you could define a retention policy that turns an active document into a record after a certain time.
Restrict who can perform records-related operations. For example, you could specify that any user can declare a document to be a record, but only records managers can edit or delete a record.
Restrict what actions users can perform on records. For example, you might prevent users from deleting records, or from both editing and deleting them.
Specify a retention policy for active documents, and a different retention policy for records.
For more information about deciding whether to use in-place records management or a records archive, see Using a records archive versus managing records in place (SharePoint Server 2010).
This article describes how to make the planning decisions that are required before you can implement in-place records management. It does not explain how to implement the decisions that you make. Before working through the steps in this article, you should already have created a file plan. For more information about file plans, see Create a file plan to manage records in SharePoint Server 2010.
If you are using in-place records management, it is assumed that you are also using SharePoint Server for another purpose, such as team collaboration sites. (If this is not true, consider using a records archive.) Therefore, you should already know the content types and folder hierarchy that your existing solution uses, or be defining these in parallel with designing your records management solution if your other SharePoint Server solution is being developed at the same time.
In this article:
Overview of in-place records management planning
You can set up retention policies for records based either on content types or on the folder in which a document is stored. Whether to organize records by content type or by location is the primary decision that you must make when you plan for in-place records management. After you have determined how to organize records, you design either the content types or the folder hierarchy. Then you define other aspects of records management, such as auditing policies. Finally, you decide what can be done with a document after it is declared to be a record.
If your solution will use both in-place records management and a records archive, you do not have to plan both aspects at the same time. For example, if you base your in-place records management plan on content types, you do not have to organize records in the archive based on content types.
Folders or content types?
You can define retention policies based on an item’s content type or based on the folder in which an item is located. For any given library, you must select one or the other; you cannot base retention policies on a combination of content types and folders within the same library. Your choice will greatly affect how you set up the site and how users use the site. It is usually simpler to base retention policies on content types, if this works in your situation.
Consider the kinds of records that you identified in your file plan. Use the following heuristics to determine whether to organize based on content types or on location. Follow the first heuristic that applies to your situation.
Do all records of the same record type have the same retention policy? If so, organize based on content types.
Do most record types consist of records with the same retention policy? Is the case of a record type having records of different retention policies rare? If so, can you easily and logically create subtypes so that the same retention policy applies to every record of the subtype? If so, organize based on content types.
For example, if non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are retained for five years; leases are retained for 10 years; and partnership agreements are retained for 15 years but you classified them all as legal agreements, not all legal agreements have the same retention period. But if you subdivided legal agreements into three separate kinds of legal agreement records – NDAs, leases, and partnership agreements – then all records of the same type would have the same retention period.
Will all records have common attributes, or metadata, that determine the retention policy? If so, organize based on location.
For example, if every record will have a “customer” attribute, and records for government customers have a different retention policy than records for corporate customers, then organize based on location.
Does your organization already have a folder structure that users are familiar with? Does the same retention policy apply to all records in a folder? Can you rely on users to store documents in the correct place in the folder structure? If all these are true, organize based on location.
If none of the previous heuristics applies, an in-place records management implementation is probably not a natural fit for your situation. Reconsider whether using a records archive will work. If you use an in-place approach, you have two options. The first option is to create additional content types whose only purpose is to differentiate items with different retention periods. The second option is organize items within folders as much as possible, and then to use sub-folders to hold items with different retention periods. Either of these options is likely to be confusing to users.
If your organization already uses SharePoint to manage documents and you are now starting to use the Records Management functionality, content types and a folder structure already exist. If neither of these map well to retention policies, you will either have to convert some items to new content types or move some items to new folders.
Defining content types
For each kind of record in your file plan, determine the content type or content types that records of this kind could be. You can enter this information on the records and content types tab of the In-place records planning worksheet.
Now consider each content type. If documents of the content type might become records, note the retention policy that applies to records of the content type. You can use the content types and retention tab of the worksheet for this purpose. If your solution will use a records archive in addition to in-place records management, only note the part of the retention policy that applies to the record before it moves to the records archive. When an item is sent to a records archive, the item’s policies are erased, and the item is given the policies that are specified within the records archive.
If the previous task resulted in a content type having more than one retention policy, you will have to split the content type. Find a logical way of splitting the content type into multiple sub-types so that each sub-type can have a single retention policy. Update your mapping of records to content types to reflect the new content types.
Organizing folders for in-place records management
You will probably organize folders differently depending on whether users will determine where they want to store documents or whether you will use the Content Organizer to route documents to the correct location. These options are described in the following sections.
Option 1: Users decide where they want to store documents
If users will decide in which folder to store their documents, the folder hierarchy must make it easy for them to place documents in the correct location. Start with the folder structure that your current SharePoint Server solution uses, or the folder structure that you are designing for the other parts of your SharePoint Server solution. For each folder that might contain records, determine the kinds of records that might be in the folder. Use the record types and your file plan to determine the retention policies that could apply to items in the folder. You can enter this information on the folders and retention tab of the worksheet.
If the previous task resulted in a folder having more than one retention policy, you will have to create subfolders. For each folder that could contain items with different retention policies, create a sub-folder for each retention policy. Since users will determine where they want to store documents, there must be an easy way to explain to users what to put in each sub-folder. If there is not, consider forbidding users from choosing where they want to store documents and using the Content Organizer instead. Update your mapping of record types to folders to reflect the new sub-folders.
If you have an existing SharePoint Server solution, you will probably have to move some existing documents to put them in the folders that have the appropriate retention policies.
Determine how you will train users to place documents in the correct location and whether you will audit where documents are put. The successful application of retention policies depends on records being stored in the correct folder.
Option 2: Use the Content Organizer to determine where to store documents
If you will use the Content Organizer to route documents to the correct folder, it is less important that the folder hierarchy be easy for users to navigate. You can hide the folder structure from the users, and create views that they can use to navigate. Because the Content Organizer routes documents based on their metadata, a unique combination of metadata must apply to each folder that will contain documents.
Examine your file plan and determine which combination of attributes corresponds to each retention policy. It is okay if different combinations of metadata have the same retention policy. However, each unique combination of metadata can only correspond to one retention policy. If this is not the case, determine additional metadata to differentiate between retention policies. You can enter this information in the first two columns of the metadata and folders tab of the In-place records planning worksheet.
Next, identify a folder to correspond to each set of metadata. Enter the name of the folder in the third column of the metadata and folders tab of the worksheet. You will need this information when you create the rules that the Content Organizer uses to route documents to the correct location. You will also have to enable the content organizer to force all uploaded and new documents to go through the drop-off library.
If you have an existing SharePoint Server solution, you probably will have to move some existing documents to put them in the folders that have the appropriate retention policies.
Determine how you will train users to apply the appropriate metadata to documents. The successful application of retention policies depends on all documents having the correct metadata.
General records management planning tasks
Once you plan how to structure content for in-place records management, most of the remaining planning tasks resemble those that you would perform for a records archive. Consider the following records management decisions.
How a document will become be a record There are several ways that a document can become a record:
You can define a retention policy on active documents that automatically makes an active document a record after a certain time.
You can create a workflow that makes an active document a record, and cause the workflow to be triggered by specific events.
A user can manually declare a document to be a record.
You can configure a library so that every document that is placed in the library is converted to a record.
How will active documents become records in your solution? If a document should become a record a fixed time period after it is created or modified, using a retention policy is a good solution. For example, you can specify that six months after the last time that a document is modified, the document becomes a record. Users will not have to take any action to make documents become records; this will occur automatically.
If there is no standard time when documents become records in your organization, there are two possibilities. If you can specify the rules under which a document becomes a record, you can create a workflow that evaluates a given document against the rules, and declares the document to be a record when it is suitable. You can then create a retention policy that starts the workflow periodically. However, if only users of a document know when a document should become a record, you should provide a manual way for a user to declare a document to be a record.
Who can declare and undeclare records You can specify that anyone can declare documents to be records, that only administrators can declare documents to be records, or that only policy actions can declare documents to be records. If you select “only policy actions,” then users cannot manually declare a document to be a record. Documents can be converted to records only by a rule in a retention policy.
The same options are available for defining who can un-declare a record as for defining who can declare a document to be a record.
What actions can users take on records You can restrict the actions that users can take on records without restricting what users can do to active documents in the same library. The three levels of restriction that you can set are as follows:
No restriction. Users can perform the same actions on records that they can perform on active documents.
Block delete. Records can be edited, but they cannot be deleted.
Block edit and delete. Records cannot be edited or deleted.
Retention policies Your retention policies should already have been defined in the file plan.
Auditing The same auditing policies apply to both records and active documents. Determine which actions that users might perform on a document that you want to track. You can define the auditing policy either at the folder level or by content types. Defining auditing policies based on content types usually results in fewer unnecessary events being logged.
All policies are removed when a record is sent to the records archive. Therefore, if you are using a multi-stage retention policy that includes sending a record to an archive after a certain time, the archive’s retention policies will apply after the record is in the archive.
Workflows Will you use workflows to track any actions that are specific to records management? If so, determine what the workflows will be, and which type of items they will be applied to. For example, you could have a workflow requests approval from a records manager when a user tries to declare an item to be a record.
You can use the following worksheet with this article to help plan for in-place records management:
In-place records planning worksheet http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=185011&clcid=0x409