How records declaration and disposal works in Sharepoint 2010

The following is an explanation of how records ‘declaration’ and disposal works (or can be made to work) in Sharepoint 2010.  It is important because records managers working in organisations implementing Sharepoint 2010 can add real value by understanding and applying these concepts.

For a start, I think it’s important to not discard the concept of ‘declaration’ as a US-only term or process.  We can use it to our advantage in the Australian recordkeeping context.

The ability to allow something (which can include a document or a list) to be declared a record by a user is set at the Site Collection Administration level. There are three options:

  • Whether any additional editing and delete restrictions can be applied once something is declared to be a record.
  • Whether the ability to declare something a record is available in all sites by default (or not)
  • Who is able to declare and undeclare something (eg all can declare, but only administrators can undeclare)

Sharepoint sites are made up almost exclusively of Content Types.  Content Types can be documents, lists (mostly data – based), folders, wikis etc.

Every Content Type (including customised Content Types) includes the option to add what are called ‘Information Management Policies’.

One of the options in these settings – probably *the* most important from a recordkeeping point of view – is ‘Enable Retention’.  By default, there are settings for ‘Non-Records’ and for ‘Records’. One of the beauties of Content Types in Sharepoint 2010 is that functions-based retention rules can be applied, and the Content Type moved to the correct BCS location in the Records Centre via the Content Type organiser (see below).

Ignoring these US terms for the moment, these settings can be modified (by records managers, preferably) to achieve the outcomes we are seeking.

Records managers can configure these settings with three broad outcomes in mind:

  • Records that would be covered by Normal Administrative Practice, or would be otherwise left to the discretion of end users to dispose of, as they do now on network drives and in email folders.
  • Records that are covered by specific retention policies that can be left on site for eventual disposal (subject to review).  An example of these could be calendars or wikis.
  • Records that are covered by specific retention policies that can be transferred to the Records Centre for review after a given period of time, for eventual disposal or ‘permanent’ retention.

The value of being able to declare something a record lies in records that would otherwise be the subject of the first outcome.  An example is a working document that becomes of value as it moves through various iterations.  At the moment, these documents are often stored on network drives and are (we hope) saved to the recordkeeping system as a final.  The ability to ‘declare’ something a record gives users a powerful option to increase the ‘recordness’ value of the record.

As noted above, Content Types can be mapped directly to a location in the organisation’s business classification scheme.  What this means is that, at a given point in time, as set by the retention rules in the Information Management policies, the Content Type can be transferred automatically to the Records Centre and then automatically be placed in the correct functional location defined in retention enabled folders in a Library in that Centre.

In other words, records in the form of Content Types start their lives in business-defined sites, and then are automatically transferred to a records-defined Centre at a given time for review and/or disposal and/or further retention.

The model is very powerful, and ‘declaration’ can be a powerful additional tool in the mix.


One thought on “How records declaration and disposal works in Sharepoint 2010

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