Records management with Microsoft Purview – Part 1: Introduction

What is Records management?

Are you struggling to manage regulatory, legal, and business-critical records for your organization? If so, a records management system, also known as records and information management, can be a lifesaver.

Records management for Microsoft Purview is a solution that can help your organization achieve its legal obligations, demonstrate compliance with regulations, and increase efficiency by regularly disposing of items that are no longer needed. Here are some of the capabilities that you can use to support your records management solution for Microsoft 365 data:

  • Label items as a record: You can create and configure retention labels to mark items as a record. Users can apply these labels manually, or they can be applied automatically by identifying sensitive information, keywords, or content types.
  • Migrate and manage your retention requirements with a file plan: Using a file plan, you can bring in an existing retention plan to Microsoft 365, or build a new one for enhanced management capabilities.
  • Configure retention and deletion settings with retention labels: You can configure retention labels with retention periods and actions based on various factors, including the date last modified or created.
  • Start different retention periods when an event occurs with event-based retention: You can start different retention periods when an event occurs, such as a legal hold or a litigation.
  • Review and validate disposition with disposition reviews and proof of records deletion: You can review and validate the disposition of records with disposition reviews and proof of records deletion, ensuring that records are deleted in compliance with legal requirements.
  • Export information about all disposed items with the export option: You can export information about all disposed items, providing a record of what has been deleted.
  • Set specific permissions for records manager functions in your organization to have the right access: You can set specific permissions for records manager functions in your organization, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive information.

Using these capabilities, you can incorporate your organization’s retention schedules and requirements into a records management solution that manages retention, records declaration, and disposition, to support the full lifecycle of your content. With records management for Microsoft Purview, you can achieve compliance, increase efficiency, and improve the management of your organization’s critical records.

Records Management vs retention

To define the differences between records management and retention, it is wise to first get a definition on these two topics.

Retention refers to the act of keeping and maintaining records, documents, or other types of information for a specific period of time. Retention can be driven by various factors, including legal requirements, regulatory compliance, business practices, or historical significance. The retention period may be determined by laws, regulations, or organizational policies, and can range from a few months to several years or even permanently. Retention is a critical aspect of records management, as it ensures that important information is preserved for the required period and can be accessed when needed.

Records management is the practice of systematically organizing, maintaining, and preserving records or information throughout their lifecycle, from creation to disposition. The objective of records management is to ensure that information is captured, stored, and retrieved efficiently and effectively, while complying with legal, regulatory, and organizational requirements. Records management includes activities such as creating and organizing records, classifying and indexing them, setting retention periods, protecting them from unauthorized access or destruction, and disposing of them when they are no longer needed. Effective records management enables organizations to reduce risks, improve decision-making, and enhance accountability and transparency.

That being said, it is now easier to understand that retention is actually part of the bigger picture. It is actually just one part of the whole records management process.

Next to the understanding of how records management and retentions relate to each other, it is good understand what a record actually is. Examples of a Record include:

  • Contracts and Legal Agreements
  • Employee Files and Medical Records
  • Tax Records
  • Payroll Time Sheets
  • Meeting Minutes

However they do generally not include examples like:

  • To-do lists
  • Lunch calendar
  • Blank templates
  • ….

How do I start?

Whether starting a records management strategy from scratch or revamping your current system, it can quickly become a daunting task. If you are interested in implementing a records management program for your organization, here are 6 steps to get started:

  1. Conduct a needs assessment: Identify the scope and purpose of your records management program. Assess the types of records and information that your organization produces and how they are currently being managed.
  2. Develop a records retention schedule: Identify the legal and regulatory requirements for retaining records, as well as the business and operational needs for keeping records. Create a retention schedule that outlines how long records should be kept and when they can be destroyed.
  3. Create policies and procedures: Develop policies and procedures for managing records, including how records will be created, stored, and accessed, as well as how they will be disposed of.
  4. Train staff: Provide training to staff on the importance of records management and how to follow the policies and procedures that have been developed.
  5. Implement a records management system: Choose a system for organizing and managing records, such as an electronic document management system or a physical file system. Ensure that the system is compatible with the policies and procedures that have been developed.
  6. Monitor and review: Regularly monitor and review the records management program to ensure that it is meeting the needs of the organization and complying with legal and regulatory requirements. Make adjustments as necessary.

Implementing a records management program may seem daunting at first, but it can provide significant benefits for your organization, including improved efficiency, reduced risk, and enhanced accountability. Taking these steps can help you get started on the path to effective records management.

Step 1 – 4 are actually business-oriented, as compared to steps 5 and 6, where the actual technology comes into play.

Solutions like Microsoft Purview (Records management and retention labels & policies) can help enforce your records management strategy across your IT environment.

What is next?

In my next couple of blog series I will give advice on how to get started with records management and retention within the Microsoft Purview platform.

Please note that this blog is part of a series on Records management using the Microsoft Purview platform.