Our plans for documenting records management features



Hello, everyone. My name is Rob Silver. I’m a technical writer working on content supporting the records management features and scenarios that Tina, Ethan, and Jason have been discussing with you in this blog.  As I’ve learned about the needs of records managers and the IT teams that work with them, and about the great records management feature-set built into Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, I’ve become aware of how important effective, comprehensive documentation can be to the success of a records management deployment based on Office SharePoint Server.


 


I’d like to use this posting to start a conversation with you records managers, information analysts, IT pros, and legal specialists who are considering using Office SharePoint Server to implement your records management solution. I’ll point you to the Web site where we regularly post our IT content set, including my records management planning content, and hopefully get some of your feedback on it. And I’ll tell you about our content plans (both the content directly related to records management and the wider content set that will enable your IT teams to deploy and maintain Office SharePoint Server successfully).


 


The heart of our content plans for IT professionals, application administrators, information analysts, and solutions designers (including, of course, records managers) is a set of online books that guide you through the "lifecycle" of planning, deploying, customizing, operating, and troubleshooting your solution based on Office SharePoint Server.  You can see this content taking shape at the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Tech Center. Notice the set of content links in the middle of the page under "SharePoint Server 2007 Technical Library (Beta)." This is beta content, so take it with a grain of salt, but there’s a lot there already and it will continue to grow as we approach the product release (and it will continue to grow beyond then as we get your feedback).


 


For records management, I focused on first delivering you planning and overview content. I did this because, first, I wanted to make it clear what we mean by records management. I thought this was important both to enterprises just getting started in records management and to actively working records managers who may want to make sure that we mean the same thing as they do by "records management." Secondly, in our model of managing a successful deployment, effective planning is a prerequisite to an effective deployment. Planners need content to help them build a design specification document that then drives deployment. Our planning content is designed to support that activity.


 


So let’s take a look at some of the planning content of interest to records managers. On the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Tech Center home page, click on Planning and Architecture. This will take you to the TOC of our planning content. There are two sections that will be particularly interesting to you: of course, Plan records management, but also Plan document management.


 


Most of the topics in Plan document management are relevant to you. Our program managers and product developers designed a set of core features (such as auditing, workflows, policies, and the other features that Jason and Ethan have been writing about) that apply both to active document management and to records management. So to understand, for example, "content types," you learn about them in the core document management content and then learn how to apply them to records in the records management content. Also, learning about both our active document management and our records management features will get you thinking about some of the benefits of integrating these features across the active document and records management wings of your enterprise.


 


Now let’s look at the contents in Plan records management. Here’s what I’ve written so far:



 These links are live! Please read the topics and give me your feedback:



  • Are the topics relevant to you?

  • Do they go into enough detail?

  • Do they give you enough guidance in making decisions?

  • Did you have questions, as you read the content, that weren’t answered?

 Here are a couple other topics I plan on writing soon:



  • Planning physical records retention

  • Planning email integration

What other planning topics related to records management would you like to see?


 


In this blog posting, I focused on our planning content for records management solutions based on Office SharePoint Server.  I’ll post again in a while and talk about how our deployment and operations content is designed to support you.


 


I’d like to close by modifying something that Jason Cahill wrote in a previous posting on this blog: "The most important step that you can take to lower the cost of running your organization, whether you’re wearing your IT hat, your legal hat, or your records management hat, is to have consistent business policies and practices, backed up with good software and technology and documentation to help manage the volume of your enterprise’s content."


 


I hope that, based on your feedback, we can give you the great content you need to help you in planning, deploying, running (and occasionally troubleshooting) your records management solution based on Office SharePoint Server.


 


Thanks for reading,


Rob Silver, Office SharePoint Server Documentation Team  


Comments (20)
  1. Peter says:

    Your diagram shows an "archive site" and it is "for retaining documents that are no longer records"

    don’t know where you got this idea, but it is inconsistent with RM philosophy. Once a record always a record, it does not revert back to document status. An archive is where records of long-term value to an organization are maintained. usually these records have a historical value to the organization. Please don’t use the IT term "archive" if you are going to write documentation related to records management then you need to read and learn about records management. I would suggest that you read the ISO 15489 standard which provides a clear definition of what a record is as well as the characteristics of a record. the ARMA International bookstore has a tremendous amount of material on records and information management that would be excellent reference material for your documentation process.

    Don’t go about reinventing the wheel. make sure that your documentation lines up with records management philosophy.

  2. George Goodall says:

    Thanks for the great resource. I agree with Peter’s comments about the ambiguous term "archive"… but I also admit that most IT managers struggling with issues of document management aren’t ARMA-certified records wonks. So far, your content seems quite pratical and is a good start toward answering the question asked by all over-burdened IT managers: "What should I do now?"

    That said, ISO 15489 is a jolly read. Throw in DoD 5015.2, AIIM-TR48, and JSR170 for good measure.

  3. Peter and George,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    The archive reference was meant to describe the case when a record’s retention period is over but, for historical or some other reason, the organization desires to keep the record rather than destroying it. I’m interested in learning if this scenario is common and what terminology to use for this situation.

    Thanks,

    Rob Silver, Office SharePoint Server Documentation Team  

  4. Chris says:

    Without wishing to labour the theme of terminology, my view is that the fact that the minimum retention period applying to a class of documents has expired isn’t in anyway relevant for a document where there are good reasons for retaining that specific resource.

    This scenario is in fact quite common, especially in the government context (which is where my interest lies).  Common reasons are a) ongoing legal processes, b) related transactions that are still active, or c) some heritage-related reason to retain the document – a significant driver for governments.

    There is no particular terminology to describe such a record, merely that its sentence has been changed from Destroy (or whatever) to Retain, or perhaps Review if the retention is for a limited additional period.

    On that subject, can I infer from the discussion that it is possible to set sentences on items that are different from the usual retention policy for the relevant class of documents?  (as long as it isn’t a shorter sentence, of course).

  5. Peter says:

    "The archive reference was meant to describe the case when a record’s retention period is over but, for historical or some other reason, the organization desires to keep the record rather than destroying it."

    this indicates to me that the concept of retention is unclear to you. A valid retention period is permanent ie the material is retained for historical/archival purposes. In rare cases you might prevent the destruction of a particular record because of its historical importance. For example after WW2 a Texas based company bought the Big Inch pipeline from the US govt. They actually wrote a check for the purchase. Now, most records retention schedules would say that cancelled checks are retained for a specific period of time and then they are destroyed. In this case because the check was a a key document in the founding of the company they didnt’ destroy it. But this is the exception to the rule.

    A good records retention schedule would note that the records might be reviewed by an archivist for sampling or historical items before destruction. remember an archives contains items that document the history of the organization. Archival material are not different from other records. The retention perod would reflect this. So having two different repositories runs counter to RM philosophy.

  6. Peter says:

    "The archive reference was meant to describe the case when a record’s retention period is over but, for historical or some other reason, the organization desires to keep the record rather than destroying it."

    this indicates to me that the concept of retention is unclear to you. A valid retention period is permanent ie the material is retained for historical/archival purposes. In rare cases you might prevent the destruction of a particular record because of its historical importance. For example after WW2 a Texas based company bought the Big Inch pipeline from the US govt. They actually wrote a check for the purchase. Now, most records retention schedules would say that cancelled checks are retained for a specific period of time and then they are destroyed. In this case because the check was a a key document in the founding of the company they didnt’ destroy it. But this is the exception to the rule.

    A good records retention schedule would note that the records might be reviewed by an archivist for sampling or historical items before destruction. remember an archives contains items that document the history of the organization. Archival material are not different from other records. The retention perod would reflect this. So having two different repositories runs counter to RM philosophy.

  7. Peter says:

    "…ARMA-certified records wonks."

    ARMA doesn’t provide any certification. The official certifying body is the Institute of Certified Records Managers (www.icrm.org)

    besides the various items George listed I would look at the standards and best practices that have been developed by ARMA’s standards development committee. ARMA is the official body responsible for the development of records management standards and works under ANSI guidelines.

    IT types should start to read and investigate the literature that comprises records management practices.

  8. Peter says:

    "the minimum retention period"

    a common misconception amongst non-records ‘wonks’.

    Regulations provide a minimum retention period. An organization can keep records beyond the minimum required period if they so desire. BUT once the organization’s records retention schedule is finalized that then is the official retention period. no minimum, no maximum

    if it is desired to keep the records beyond the official retention period then a reason must be supplied and it should be for a valid business reason, and should not be for longer than 1 year.

    Now if litigation, investigations or audits require the retention or records then a hold is placed on the records. This hold tolls the retention period ie it stops the clock ticking. but once all holds are removed the clock starts ticking again, and if the retention period has been meant while the record was on hold then the records can be destroyed.

  9. Peter, Chris, George, and Michael,

    Thanks again for the great feedback. This is just the kind of conversation I was hoping to get going!

    I plan to remove the reference to "archive site" in my records management content as Peter and George have suggested, and will continue to listen and learn from all of you as your responses are posted (and I also appreciate all the materials that many of you suggested that I read).

    Thanks,

    Rob Silver, Office SharePoint Server Documentation Team  

  10. What would be really handy is to be able to "autoarchive" items in folders of the same list based on time e.g. annual, bimester, trimester, monthly …. several large customers asked for this features ….

  11. @ Igor:

    Can you clarify what you mean by “autoarchive” in this context? (“Archive” is a term that means different things to different audiences…)  

    Where would items be archived to? Would the items be moved or copied? And how would you expect those “archived” items to be managed relative to the policy defined in the original location?

    Thanks,

    – Ethan Gur-esh.

  12. DavidM says:

    Hi all,

    I actually agree with a number of the comments previously made on this page.  Additionally, I believe that one of the major issues that we have in the vendor community is the lack of functional knowledge that is available from anyone particular vendor about records & document management.  As an example, if I have a problem with an accounting process or function and I had SAP installed, you could bet that SAP would be able to bring in an accountant that specialises in that process.  If however, I have a problem with a records management function, all the vendors appear very light on for experienced practioners that deeply understand both the product and the process.  The previous discussion about the term Archive is a classic.

    I currently Chair ISO 15489 and I encourage you to engage and adopt this Standard as your baseline document that will underpin all future design work….

    Kind Regards,

    David

  13. In the previous post , we covered the basics of what’s involved in e-mail records management and why

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