Let SharePoint Do That

By DANIEL ANTION posted 07-17-2013 18:42


Several weeks ago I wrote about the information policy document that we are creating for one of our newest SharePoint sites. The site consists of several libraries and lists, and we are working to define the various attributes of the site, each library and to establish the protocol for getting things where they need to be. One of the elements of the information policy that I pawned off on the owners of these documents was records retention. That hot potato needs to go somewhere and I don’t want it to be my desk.

This week, I helped review a rough draft of the retention policy. It was pretty good; clearly the product of considerable thought, but it was disconnected. By that, I mean it was a good retention policy, but it wasn’t written with SharePoint in mind. As we reviewed the policy, I pointed out several places where SharePoint could either assist with the records retention task, or automate it completely. The following are three that were well received:

Implement policy thought settings or workflow – SharePoint has many capabilities that can assist or flat-out implement retention and destruction policies. Get familiar with the document management capabilities, as well as the basic features of SharePoint Designer workflows. Check out the ways in which record libraries differ from document libraries and how in-line record declaration works. If you don’t want to get that close to SharePoint, then make sure you bring someone who does onto your project.

Manage/ Hold in-place – Some of the specific actions that were being recommended were from the point of view that people had to do certain functions. I’m not suggesting that people aren’t important, but SharePoint understands the concept of a legal hold, document destruction, and other records management processes. While the process should be designed by humans, they don’t have to put the documents in a file cabinet and lock it in order to prevent them from disappearing.

Notification = Peace of Mind – One thing that SharePoint can do while standing on its head, is to notify someone of something. It doesn’t matter if that something has already happened or is about to happen or already should have happened, SharePoint can tell the world about it. So, for the people who have to know what happened to a document, or what needs to happen, notification can save them a ton of time.

Now it’s time to spread a little credit around. First, I want to thank the guy who wrote the draft of this policy. It’s easy to play editor with the first draft, creating that draft is quite a challenge. Records retention is easy when there are compliance rules to follow. Records retention is difficult when some people think we should delete documents after (n) years while others think we should save everything forever. This guy threaded a bunch of needles in crafting a solid first cut at this policy. Second, I need to cut a healthy slice of credit for AIIM Education. One of the suggestions I made was to leave a “stub record” behind after documents are deleted. That’s a tip I picked up from Bob Larravee during my AIIM ECM Master class. Understanding the process well enough to know how to anticipate records management requirements and to accommodate them in SharePoint’s configuration and workflows is something I learned during AIIM’s ERM Master Class. In case you didn’t know it, the “E” in ERM stands for ‘electronic’ - you know the kind of records SharePoint manages.

In addition, being able to say that I have those designations as well as my CIP, helps people understand that I don’t play an information professional on TV, chances are good that I actually might know what I’m talking about.

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