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The Rule of Three

By Mimi Dionne posted Jan 25, 2012 2:59 AM

  

I once had the privilege of working for a Corporate Sponsor who forgave mistakes easily. “If you don’t make mistakes,” he encouraged, “you’re not working fast or hard enough.”  I cannot tell you how much his employees appreciated his clemency--especially the matrix team comprised of Records and IT personnel implementing the company’s electronic records management system.  He was beloved by all of us.

I’ve mused over his recommendation many times as I’ve built SharePoint 2010 records management environments and their governance plans. One of Chris Sterling’s assertions in Managing Software Debt is “the way we design can always be improved”. He writes

This particular principle is not all that controversial. There is a continuous flow of writing about design methods and ideas in our industry. It does, however, suggest the notion that following a single design method is not recommended. By trying multiple methods of design, teams continue to learn and innovate for the sake of their applications.

My SharePoint 2010 records environments have run the gamut from traditional set up (i.e. as described by Microsoft’s Administrator’s Companion) to heretical (i.e. as recommended by Mimi Dionne Consulting).  The truth is, SharePoint 2010 is no different from any other electronic records management implementation: it takes three design attempts to assemble the environment in a simple but elegant configuration.

In the beginning, I overcomplicated everything. As I muddled through my first architecture, I read every book. Our literature is (still!) shockingly bereft of SharePoint 2010 records management configuration lessons learned, so I wrote my own.  As soon as I identified my errors, I peeled back the layers until I could fix the structure’s weaknesses. I reassembled.  Then, using my records retention schedule, I described my configuration.

As I built, I realized that every organization should entitle the traditional Administrator role and the Records Administrator role equally—I couldn’t properly assemble or reassemble as a site collection administrator (for Records Center only).  Because the traditional Administrator needs us, the partnership truly creates the best information management environment.  If an organization has only one and not the other it is detrimental to the company’s future intellectual capital. As Mr. Sterling says, “design and construct for change rather than longevity.”

Don’t misunderstand me: of course reading every book and taking every class is useful. However, if you’re one of the SharePoint Faithful, be prepared for disillusionment. Out-of-the-box SharePoint 2010 records management isn’t there yet, which may complicate your marketing campaign. Draw upon every useful tool you have: review your retention schedule. Is it stacked with more than 35% of event-driven retentions, which have been so popular in the past few years? Then plan for an additional programming headcount. Those “easy” how-to instructions on the Records Center administration page?  Extraordinarily oversimplified and unhelpful—assembly shouldn’t happen in that order and it certainly doesn’t all happen in the Records Center, either.  Only by muddling through it yourself will you understand the real, long-term records ramifications. Ensure you get to architect the environment.  Plan for many lessons learned and schedule enough time for the rule of three.

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