Here’s what your SharePoint 2010 Records Governance Plan should look like -- and why.

The beauty of SharePoint 2010 is the warm end user experience of declaring a record while the user still references it, instead of the cold transference to the Records Center after a period of time post modified date when the record is no longer valuable. SharePoint 2010’s Active Records Management allows end users to version documents that are declared records earlier than would be possible using other more classic or home-built environments that customarily separate the two functions of document control and records management.

Whereas Microsoft may see the two capabilities as an opportunity to serve more customers, records professionals are excited about the possibility of interacting more with internal clients. Both are marketing campaigns; however, records professionals understand the importance of the electronic record’s usability against the backdrop of ISO 15489.

Creating a Records Governance Policy

To write a Records governance policy for SharePoint 2010, you need to read ISO 15489’s General Guidelines and the Technical Report. Get your copy of the general guidelines here. A link to the Technical Report is provided on that page.

ISO 15489 defines Records Management as “a field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records”. ISO 15489 distinctly states how records provide for their entities through context and technology.

A record should correctly reflect what was communicated or decided or what action was taken. It should be able to support the needs of the business to which it relates and be used for accountability purposes. As well as the content, the record should contain, or be persistently linked to, or associated with, the metadata necessary to document a transaction, as follows:

a) the structure of a record, that is, its format and the relationships between the elements comprising the record, should remain intact;

b) the business context in which the record was created, received and used should be apparent in the record (including the business process of which the transaction is part, the date and time of the transaction and the participants in the transaction);

c) the links between documents, held separately but combining to make up a record, should be present.

The life cycle of the record as outlined in ISO 15489 encourages the usability and wholeness of documents to become something more. In other words, a record is a corporate decision in time which creates an obligation under a statute of limitations. Each technical portion (metadata, content, links) of the whole record must be handled with precision and accuracy so that the record-ness is identifiable from birth.

Transitioning Document to Record

The usability and transition of document-to-record state prompts a serious approach -- at least a feasibility study. Think about the below questions in the context of 15489:

  1.  Does our culture support the connection amongst information warehouses?
  2. What data from legacy records and information management implementations should we migrate to our new platform?
  3. What political mess remains from the MOSS 2007 implementation?
  4. Will our SharePoint 2010 environment provide structure for currently unstructured data?
  5. What kind of file formats will we permit and exclude here?
  6. What stipulations can we use to curtail massive, overnight growth?
  7. Should we perform a 1:1 migration?

These questions can facilitate the creation of high-level information pathways. These pathways outline the line of custody within and between business units on the corporate RRS and in their taxonomies. The outcome is a Records governance plan that should be codified into the following sections. Note: within each section, map corresponding functions in SharePoint.

Sections of Records Governance Plan

The Introduction

Focus on the Records vision and scope of SharePoint 2010. Projected benefits may include: authenticity, reliability, integrity, usability (in accordance with ISO 15489); renewed corporate agility; faster retrieval; better availability; consistency; stability; reduced costs of discovery; reduced silos; reduced print sets; applied content management rules; reinvestment in KM; simpler business risk analysis; codified goals and strategies of the organization; measured volume and growth rate of records; physical records management; and, best of all -- improved morale.

“Your SharePoint Records Governance Plan and ISO 15489: Part Two” continues next week with the rest of the plan—and more commentary on document control.