With considerable anticipation and a blaze of publicity SharePoint 2010 was released in May. Included with it was new and improved records management functionality designed to fill SharePoint 2007’s weaknesses on this front.

Records Management Weaknesses in SP2007

In this respect, Doug Miles, Director of Market Intelligence, AIIM Europe, in a recent webinar on records management and SharePoint 2010 identified three principal weaknesses that SharePoint 2010 aimed to tackle. These included

  • Record Management abilities isn't very robust
  • Insufficient granularity of security
  • No way to enforce classification template policy for new team sites

And yes, he says, some of these have been addressed in 2010, but with many companies still using SharePoint 2007 and others still trying to get to grips with SharePoint 2010, he says it is early to form an opinion as to whether its records management in SP 2010 is good or bad.

Records Management in SharePoint 2007

Three major problems in SharePoint 2007 records management that SharePoint 2010 attempts to address include:

  1. To preserve content as records and to stop them from being deleted they had to be sent to a records library within the Records Center.
  2. For different types of content you had to set up different records libraries in the Records Center.
  3. It does not support a useable fileplan hierarchy. The folders have no functionality, so records did not inherit rules or metadata from the folders.

Records Management in SharePoint 2010

For these three problems, SharePoint 2010 offers three solutions:

1. Records Center

The first is Records Center. Introduced in SharePoint 2007, it facilitated records management in the traditional way by moving content classified as a record to a secure place.

In SharePoint 2010 this facility is still there, but users are also offered the possibility of classifying content as a record, and leave it in the place it was created.

The result is that users of SharePoint 2010 can choose between centralized management and dispersed records management.

2. Fileplans

With SharePoint 2010, the Records Center supports fileplan hierarchies and in doing so, deals with the problem of inherited rules and metadata.

SharePoint 2010 uses the File Plan to apply an organization’s official retention schedule. Appropriate permissions are applied throughout the file plan and, in SharePoint 2010, different retention requirements can be applied at each file plan level.

3. Folders

Folders have no functionality in 2007, with users avoiding them in most situations and using metadata columns instead. For 2010, folders are able to act as parents to any child objects with metadata applied at folder level, so that the child objects can inherit that information.

Who Uses SharePoint for Records Management?

Research carried out by AIIM (news. site) this summer that shows that few enterprises are really looking at the records management element of SharePoint at all.

However, it also showed that there would be a considerable increase in the use of that element of SharePoint over the coming 12 to 18 months.


SharePoint Enterprise Use.jpg
SharePoint use in the enterprise

Given the amount of enterprise content that currently resides in SharePoint this is not surprising -- remembering that up to 75% of enterprises have some sort of SharePoint deployment. The same AIIM research shows:

  • 12% of deployments are hosting more than 1000 team sites
  • 11% adding more than 25 team sites a month
  • 12% have more than 5 terabytes of content on those sites
  • 16% have more than 20 terabytes of content

With this level of content the problem of keeping and tracking records is formidable.

SharePoint Deployments Lack Planning

What is even more concerning is that when asked what they are doing with SharePoint, or what they will be doing with SharePoint, 46% said they needed a plan but didn’t have one and a further 12% said they didn’t even knowing where to start.


SharePoint 2010 for Records Management?

And this is where the starting point of all records management lies. Paolo Cattolico, EMEA Marketing Manager for Information Management at Hewlett-Packard (news, site) argues that the fundamental issue is to define what a record is and what the lifetime of a record will be.

Once you have done this and clarified it across all key enterprise applications, you can decide what kind of system or platform to use. For SharePoint 2010 this means that enterprises have to ask themselves whether they can use it with its existing records management functionality, or whether a dedicated records management system is needed.

The AIIM research also gives us a glimpse into this. It shows that

  • 35% are not using SharePoint records management functionality
  • 25% plan to use records management in SP2010
  • 33% prefer to use a third party system,
  • 42% of SharePoint users are not at a records management stage yet

For those that are, the experience of using it has not been great with over 40% saying that the records management element of SharePoint has major shortcomings.

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SharePoint use and satisfaction

Lack of Enterprise Planning is the Real Issue

Cattolico points out that these are not technical issues, but global problems with records management planning. The six principal offenders include:

  1. Not defining policies on what to use SharePoint for
  2. Inappropriate training and guidance
  3. Letting untrained users manage security
  4. Not treating SharePoint like an enterprise application
  5. Not planning for scale and/or growth
  6. Not providing SharePoint as a centralized service for the organization

He says that the fundamental issue is the first of these. Failure to identify what to use if for and what not to use it for. If this is not clear, he says, no amount of added functionality in SharePoint 2010 or in future versions is going to produce effective records management.

Lack of Standards Still a Major Issue

In an article addressed to the AIIM ERM Community in July, James Lappin, a records management consultant at Thinking Records says that while the records management abilities in SharePoint 2010 have improved they don’t comply with international standards.

He cites Microsoft as saying that it will not be looking for DoD 5015.2 certification in the US or MoReq 2 in the EU with SharePoint 2010 and that it is advising those looking to meet these standards to look to third party products.

Has SharePoint 2010 Improved Enough?

As yet, the jury is out on whether records management functionality in SharePoint will be enough for the companies that have decided to go the SharePoint 2010 route.

While it will be some time before a consensus can be arrived at on this, it does not mean that the basics of good records management cannot be applied in the meantime.

Without overstating the issue, the AIIM research seems to indicate that in the majority of cases SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010 is not the issue. Good planning or lack of it still seems to be at the heart of most problems.