This is the fourth article in this series “What Is This SharePoint Thing All About Anyway?” In this article we are going to be looking at the concept of SharePoint Enterprise Content Management (ECM).

I want to highlight for you some of the most common ECM features and work through some different ways that you can use them. My hope is that by reading this article you are able to identify some features that you aren’t currently using that could potentially help you work more efficiently within SharePoint.

Records Management

The first concept I want to cover is Records Management. Within SharePoint there are two types of Records Management that can be configured -- Global and In Place.

Global Records Management allows you to maintain a central location to store all company records. The Records Center Template is used along with Content Types to determine how to store and manage each type of document. When a document is declared a record it is moved to the official records center site and then assigned retention policies based on its content type.

There is also a way to configure what is known as In Place Records Management. When using this configuration it allows for items to be declared records but remain in their source location. This approach allows declared records and non-records to be stored in the same central location. This approach is useful if you need to access working content along with records.

And, like most things in technology, if one approach doesn’t work alone you can develop a hybrid approach. An example of a hybrid approach for Records Management in SharePoint could be keeping records in place for two years and then moving them to an official Records Center.

By configuring a Records Management solution you are enabling your organization to track and manage records over time including how they are created, managed, reviewed, published and then ultimately destroyed. This process involves reviewing the lifecycle of your documents and then building a solution that enables users to easily work with their content throughout its entire lifecycle.

There is much to think through and plan when setting up an approach for managing internal Records. Below are some links that I have found helpful as I go through the planning stage. This is definitely one of those topics that you want to have a good plan in place that includes a strategy for maintaining governance over time.

Information Management Policy Settings

Next up, I want to highlight some of the settings that you have access to for Records Management. These are known as Information Management Policy Settings and can be configured with either approach to Records Management. By default these policies are based on Content Types, but they can also be configured based on the Libraries folder structure.