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What is records management?

Updated: February 26, 2009

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

Updated: 2009-02-26

In this article:

Elements of a records management system

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 is the process by which an organization:

  • Determines what types of information should be considered records.

  • Determines how active documents that will become records should be handled while they are in use, and determines how they should be collected once they are declared to be records.

  • Determines in what manner and for how long each record type should be retained to meet legal, business, or regulatory requirements.

  • Researches and implements technological solutions and business processes to help ensure that the organization complies with its records management obligations in a cost-effective and non-intrusive way.

  • Performs records-related tasks such as disposing of expired records, or locating and protecting records related to external events such as lawsuits.

Determining which documents and other physical or electronic items in your organization are records is the responsibility of corporate compliance officers, records managers, and lawyers. By carefully categorizing all enterprise content in your organization, they can help you ensure that documents are retained for the appropriate period of time. A well-designed records management system helps protect an organization legally, helps the organization demonstrate compliance with regulatory obligations, and increases organizational efficiency by promoting the disposition of out-of-date items that are not records.

Elements of a records management system

A records management system includes the following elements:

  • A content analysis that describes and categorizes content in the enterprise that may become records, provides source locations, and describes how the content will move to the records management application.

  • A file plan describing, for each type of record in the enterprise, where they should be retained as records, the policies that apply to them, how they need to be retained, how they should be disposed of, and who is responsible for managing them.

  • A compliance requirements document defining the rules that the organization's IT systems must adhere to in order to ensure compliance, along with the methods used to ensure the participation of enterprise team members.

  • A method for collecting records that are no longer active from all record sources, such as collaboration servers, file servers, and e-mail systems.

  • A method for auditing records while they are active.

  • A method for capturing records' metadata and audit histories and retaining them.

  • A process for holding records (suspending their disposition) when events such as litigations occur.

  • A system for monitoring and reporting on the handling of records to ensure that employees are filing, accessing, and managing them according to defined policies and processes.

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes features that can help organizations implement integrated records management systems and processes. To ensure that information workers can easily participate in your enterprise's records management system, 2007 Microsoft Office system applications, such as Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 and Microsoft Office Word 2007, also include features that support records management practices.

Overview of records management planning

This topic describes the planning steps you should take to help ensure that the records management system you implement based on Office SharePoint Server 2007 will achieve your organization's records management goals. Here is a preview of the records management planning process:

  1. Identify records management roles   Successful records management requires specialized roles, including:

    • Records managers and compliance officers to categorize the records in the organization and to run the records management process.

    • IT personnel to implement the systems that efficiently support records management.

    • Content managers to identify where organizational information is kept and to commit their teams to following records management practices.

  2. Analyze organizational content   Before creating a file plan, records managers and content managers survey document usage in the organization to determine which documents and other items may become records.

  3. Develop a file plan   After you have analyzed your organizational content and determined retention schedules, fill in the rest of the file plan. File plans differ from organization to organization, but in general they describe the kinds of items the enterprise acknowledges to be records, indicate where they are stored, describe their retention periods, and provide other information such as who is responsible for managing them and what broader category of records they belong to.

  4. Develop retention schedules   For each record type, determine when it is no longer active (in use), how long it should be retained after that, and how it should ultimately be disposed of.

  5. Evaluate and improve document management practices   Make sure that proper policies are being applied in document repositories. For example, ensure that content is being properly audited, so that adequate audits are retained along with records.

  6. Design the records management application   Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes a specialized site template, the Records Repository, which is designed for records management. Based on your file plan, design the site's libraries, content types, policies, and its record series, which defines where in the site record that type should be stored.

  7. Plan how content moves to the Records Center site   If you are using Office SharePoint Server 2007 for both your active document management and your records management application, you can create custom workflows to move documents to the Records Repository at the appropriate times. If you are using either Office SharePoint Server 2007 or external document management systems, you can plan and develop interfaces that move content from those systems to the Records Repository, based on the Records Repository's programmable interface.

  8. Plan Microsoft Exchange integration   Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, along with Office Outlook 2007, includes features designed to facilitate the flow of e-mail into the Records Repository using specialized folders and commands. If you are using Exchange Server 2007 as your e-mail server, you can plan how to classify e-mail and move it to the Records Repository.

  9. Plan compliance reporting and documentation   To verify that your organization is performing its required records management practices and to communicate these practices, you should document your records management plans and processes. If your enterprise becomes engaged in records-related litigation, you may be required to produce these records management guidelines, implementation plans, and metrics on effectiveness.

Download this book

This topic is included in the following downloadable book for easier reading and printing:

See the full list of available books at Downloadable content for Office SharePoint Server 2007.

See Also

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