Information Management, Metadata Solves Your SharePoint Content Management Problems
In the midst of all this wonderful discussion about information governance and records management in 2018, we shouldn’t forget a simple rule: the work still needs to be done.  

The key to a successful SharePoint implementation from a content management point of view is metadata. Metadata management should be a tier one priority during the object review and cleanup prior to the Records Center implementation and the Records Center retention policies rollout.

Object Review and Cleanup

Metadata is crucial to reviewing objects in all storage locations -- especially if the team isn’t allowed to actually look at the objects themselves. A story can still be gleaned from the metadata of each object. The baseline statistics will identify duplicate objects to be deleted, individual objects to be deleted, objects that should remain in collaborative file shares, intranet sites and libraries for the year, and objects that should be transferred immediately to the repository.

Sample metadata includes:

  • File Name
  • File Extension
  • File Type
  • Volume
  • Size
  • Creation Time
  • Owner User Name
  • Last Access Time
  • Last Modified Time
  • Days Since Last Access
  • Days Since Last Modify
  • Days Since File Creation
  • Days Since Creation
  • File Path
  • Attributes
  • Read Only
  • System Flag
  • Encrypted Flag
  • Not Content Indexed
  • Duplicate Key String

Sample metadata survey questions include:

  • System and driver objects per drive?
  • Original size of the network drives? Also deltas as well as growth.
  • Total percentage and number counts per file extension per department’s drive? Also deltas as well as growth.
  • Duplicate object decision guidelines may include:
    • What if there are more than two similar objects? Choose the best location.
    • Retain both if they’re housed in different drives but still necessary.
    • What if they’re titled similarly, but different objects? They each remain.
  • Collaborative file shares:
    • Recent growth
    • 1 year growth
    • 5 year growth
  • Typical name per file type as well as numbers and percentages?
  • Records series counts per department per drive?
  • Numbers and percentages of duplicates? Their locations?
  • Dates since last accessed or last modified? Numbers and percentages? Averages?
  • Unapproved extensions in SharePoint based on policies (e.g., “.msg”)?
  • High volume corporate records owners?
  • If the content was in boxes, how many TB would this content be?

Ultimately the purpose of this exercise is to inform a collaborative and personal file shares management policy (if it does not exist already). Bonus: predicting and monitoring annual growth rates in file shares and the intranet as well as assigning responsibility for the orphan objects.

Retention Schedules, Revised

The retention schedule is the public-facing tool that explains retention policies -- but it’s just a summary. Create an internal view of the retention schedule for the implementation team.

For a SharePoint project, divide the retention schedule according to each records management service: site collection assignment, content type, required and preferred metadata, custom view enabled, information policy, declaration method, etc. Each records series should be completely populated with this information and distributed as regularly as updates are issued. Remember, SharePoint Records Management services are hard to unravel once they’re built -- use this template as the architecture guide.

A second version outlines the destruction policy per records series. Each series has subtleties that are specific to industry, the organization, and its departments and functional teams. Literally, the influences trickle down.

The destruction policy should reflect quantitatively the results from the hard copy and electronic surveys (see questions above) completed with each functional team. Because the organization has a comprehensive records retention schedule, the destruction policy version might have two simple percentages per series: working documents and records OR each series could be divided by the more traditional categories of vital, permanent and non-permanent records. Regardless, this is an opportunity to provide the organization with the 180 view of the information map.

Learning Opportunities

A Long-Term Investment

Metadata is extremely powerful. Fortunately you, the Records Administrator, can designate required metadata easily -- it can be set at the content type layer. During the information map interview, ask colleagues to reveal their team’s common vocabulary and current library structures.

For example, are they driven by subject or chronology? Perhaps a data governance model is already in play? How does data flow within the team and amongst the external project stakeholders or business partners? Do data redundancies exist within the team or the department?

I’ve attended several SharePoint Saturdays in the past few years. Whenever a speaker polls the audience on whether or not the attendees’ organizations leverage metadata, I’m the only one who raises their hand (I’m usually the only records person in the room -- I don’t think that is a coincidence).

Metadata management requires long-term vision.The challenge is: will all of the decision makers listen and support this phase of the project? Or will executives sacrifice long-term return on investment for short-term accomplishment?They should clearly express their support of it throughout the organization.

Meanwhile, our profession has high hopes for information governance. Somewhere in our language we should leverage metadata management -- it’s essential to our future success.

Title image courtesy of Laurin Rinder (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Mimi is passionate about records management. Read more in An Electronic Records Management Implementation Journal: Month One