Implementing SharePoint 2010 to manage records – three broad steps

There are three broad phases records managers need to understand if they (or their organisation) is considering implementing SharePoint 2010 to manage records.

Understanding and designing the required architecture and implementing the appropriate SharePoint server environment based on business requirements

You need to sit down with your SharePoint Administrator and possibly also your Web Administrator to understand what you want to do with SharePoint and the technical architecture of the product, including ‘single farm – single service’, or ‘single farm – multiple service’ model. In smaller implementations of intranet environments there is often a tendency to try to do records management on the intranet (publishing) site collection.

In my experience, many people still seem to not understand the difference between a publishing environment (e.g., an intranet) and an enterprise collaboration environment (e.g., a place where you would store and collaborate on documents, often in ‘team sites’). You need to understand and get the technical architecture and environment right first because there are some things that you cannot do in a publishing environment that you will want to do with documents/records.

The key here is to get the architecture right first and keep your blueprint/model/design on hand as you work through the implementation.

You should also have a very strong understanding of SharePoint’s limits, including things like a recommended 2 GB for team site storage, 100 GB limit for site collections, and 200 GB limit for content databases. This will affect your proposed architecture model. See http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc262787.aspx for more information.

Before you can do anything, you will need to consider thinking about and planning a Site Topology, keeping in mind SharePoint limits, for enterprise sites based on at least three site types: organisational hierarchy, community, and applications.

Enabling and configuring basic items including the Records Center site collection, the Content Type Hub/Managed Metadata Service (Central Administration)

These don’t take long (maybe a day if you plan it right and you have a good SharePoint administrator) but if you get them wrong they are really hard to fix later on.

There are some recordkeeping features (like Document IDs) that are set at the site collection level. This can be when you start creating your initial Content Types (in the CT Hub) and enterprise metadata (in the MMS using the Term Store Tool).

Generally you will need Admin rights to access these elements, including access to Central Administration and the Site collection Administration. Consider who should be able to do this. In my view the records manager (or equivalent) should have access to the CT Hub and MMS because these are core to our interests.

Creating and Publishing Content Types

As a general rule, don’t use the ‘top level’ Content Types but create ‘customised’ ones.

For example, create a ‘RK_Document’ with all the recordkeeping metadata in it first.  Every new document-based Content Type can then be based on that one and so inherit the (mostly invisible) RK metadata.

You may need to create some new metadata columns before you add them to the new Content Types but look carefully at the extensive range of out of the box metadata elements.

A key part of the Content Type is the ‘Information Management Policies’ area. This should be modified by a records manager with the knowledge to do it, or with input from the records manager. You will find audit options here too (although note that accessing the audit trail is not as easy as it may seem, and you will need administrator access).

Once you have all this in place, you need to ‘provision’ your new sites with the relevant content types AND disable access to the default ones. You will also need to modify some of the Site’s settings and, for each Library you add, those settings too. This is where you decide whether retention will be based on Content Types or Libraries and Folders. Access permissions are also important to understand.

In a future post I will describe these three steps in more detail.

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