Resolving SharePoint Records Management Shortcomings

November 6, 2014 by Chris Caplinger

SharePoint Records Management has limitations...

Whether you are considering using SharePoint as a repository for records or have been using it for years, you likely have your opinions on whether or it's a viable option. There are a lot of software vendors in the business wanting you to think SharePoint is not the answer. However, truth is that there are a lot of organizations currently using it for records management, with and without third party customizations.

Nevertheless, one thing that both side can agree on is that records managers won't be able to follow their formal processes in SharePoint without some type of help.

This post will discuss the shortcomings when building a formal records and information management process with SharePoint and how the RecordLion solution addresses them.

File Plan / Retention Schedule Management

The Problem:

In SharePoint, the File Plan and the taxonomy are one unit. You really can't have one without the other. There is the concept of policies and you can chose to add those to Document Libraries or Content Types, but there is no high level File Plan management that Records Managers are accustomed to.

Our Solution:

RecordLion separates your File Plan from the taxonomy in SharePoint. You can create a File Plan in our software after, during or before the SharePoint taxonomy is generated or content is added to the system. This is the reason our software is implemented faster and for less cost than other systems, because we don't require you to reinvent your SharePoint Site, Libraries and Content Types.

SharePoint Retention Schedule

(You can read more about File Plans here)

Record Classification

The Problem:

There is a two-fold problem with attempting to classify (match to record policies) content in SharePoint or with most third party solutions. The first is that mixing Content Types and Locations is virtually impossible. You must chose one or the other. The second is using other data to classify, such as SharePoint Columns, Managed Meta Data or even Site Names. Essentially SharePoint has a weak Content Rules Engine and most third party solutions don't expand on this far enough.

Our Solution:

RecordLion can help you apply rules using your current SharePoint taxonomy, often with no changes, to classify content that specifies which policies should get applied. We can mix Sites, Libraries, Content Types, Folders, Columns, Terms and Keywords in our Content Rules Engine. We can even move data automatically to new locations at different times throughout the lifecycle.

(Read more about Classification here.)

Cutoff and Retention

The Problem:

Again, two problems emerge when trying to determine cutoff and retention periods in SharePoint. The first is that, without custom code, SharePoint uses only date properties (think created date, modified date or custom dates) to determine when retention should begin. The second is it is impossible to act on an entire file/case without building some type of workflow that would populate the date property on each item.

Our Solution:

RecordLion Information Lifecycle uses date properties, recurring events and one time events to start retention on items in SharePoint (or outside of SharePoint for that matter). We also have the ability to act on files with the same Meta data with one single event. Case files are also possible which group like items together as one unit, but stay as separate items in SharePoint. This enables you to use your current system with fewer changes to allow you to deploy a records management program faster and easier.

Trigger Events

Disposition

The Problem:

SharePoint does not have a review process to solicit approvals before allowing the appropriate disposition to take place.

Our Solution:

The RecordLion solution allows record managers to determine whether or not specific classifications (record categories/series) should have an approval process associated with the disposition policy.

RecordLion also helps your organization prove "defensible disposition" by auditing all changes made to the File Plan. This assures that you can be prepared to defend both your policies and actions.

(See the RecordLion website for more on Disposition.)

Physical Records

The Problem:

SharePoint does not have any concept of Physical Records. You probably have paper or some other type of physical artifact that you need help managing.

Our Solution:

Physical Records Management is a key component to the RecordLion Records Management solution. We enable you to unify your electronic records together with physical files or to keep them separate, by creating a versatile container structure as well as barcoding infrastructure. RecordLion even allows for physical records to be converted to electronic records in one simple step.

(Learn more about RecordLion Physical Records Management.)

Physical

Auditing

The Problem:

Auditing in SharePoint is limited to the basics of create, edit, modify, check in/out and search. This may not sound too bad, but when you consider the performance implications of turning the feature on, you may realize it's not feasible.

The Solution:

While RecordLion does import all audit information from SharePoint, we also build new robust capabilities to inform records managers of everything going on with the lifecycle. RecordLion Information Lifecycle also provides a thorough SDK that allows importing of audit information from other applications, such as scanning and workflow.

Reports

Reporting

The Problem:

SharePoint is limited to very basic audit information and only provides it as cryptic data in spreadsheet format.

Our Solution:

Your records program is only as good as your ability to set goals and measure results. With 16 (and growing) out of the box reports as well as report builder tool, virtually any report imaginable can be created, and you can know exactly what's going on with your entire records program.

(Read about Audits and Reporting here.)

Conclusion

We hope this gave you a deeper understanding of SharePoint and Records Management. If you'd like more information about our product or would like to contact us just fill out this quick form.

Topics: Physical Records, Records Management, SharePoint