The Records Center is intended to serve as a central repository in which an organization can store and manage all of its records such as legal or financial documents. The Records Center supports the entire records management process, from records collection through records management to records disposition.
The Records Center site template is similar to other SharePoint sites in that it serves as a general repository for documents and enables collaboration among site users. The Records Center site template, however, is a pre-configured site designed specifically to help organizations implement their records management and retention programs. Versioning, auditing, metadata management, eDiscovery, and customizable record routing are built-in features that can help you manage records more effectively.
Note: In SharePoint Online, we've introduced using retention labels to declare content as records, which effectively replaces the need to use the Records Center. If you're using the Records Center, you can continue to use it alongside retention labels. But moving forward, for the purpose of records management, we recommend using retention labels instead of the Records Center.
Defining a records management plan
At the highest level, there are two major steps involved in designing a Records Center site to implement a records management program:
An organization must develop a records management strategy and a formal records management plan. This is a collaborative effort that involves coordination among records managers, compliance officers, IT professionals, and information workers.
An organization must then configure one or more Records Center sites to implement its records management plan.
The sections below outline the primary elements involved in each of these steps.
Records management planning
Before an organization can configure a Records Center site as its records management solution, it should develop a formal plan for its records management strategy. The specific elements of a formal records management plan are likely to be unique to individual organizations or businesses. However, virtually all records management plans include the following documents and processes:
File plan A file plan describes the types of documents or items that an organization acknowledges as official business records. It indicates where these records are stored, and it provides information that differentiates one type of record from another. The file plan serves as a comprehensive collection of policies, processes, and guidelines for creating, storing, and managing records. A file plan should cover all records, regardless of media, including paper, blogs, wikis, e-mail, and electronic files. It must also specify how each record is classified, secured, and ultimately destroyed. It should also include considerations for special categories of records, such as Confidential, Vital, Trade Secret, or Privileged records. Finally, a file plan must specify the people who are responsible for managing each type of record.
Record Libraries Record libraries are essentially document libraries that you create to classify and store important records. You create a record library for each type of record you want to retain. Records are automatically routed to the appropriate library based on the settings configured in the Content Organizer.
Content types You create content types to define the types of records your organization needs to store and identify any unique properties for each type of record. By defining content types for specific kinds of records, your organization can ensure that each of these groups of content is managed in a consistent way. Office documents, PDFs, TIFFs (scanned images), e-mail, instant message conversations, videos, and physical records can all be classified and stored with the content types you create. Any record called a “contract,” for example, will be treated the same way and in a consistent manner within SharePoint’s records management system. Using content types to classify and store records is an alternative method to using record libraries.
Retention schedule A retention schedule specifies how long each record type in the file plan must be retained (its retention period) and the process for disposing of it when it reaches the end of this period (its disposition process). The guidelines in a retention schedule are usually based on legal requirements, risks to the organization, and business need. Additionally, a retention schedule usually describes the risk management contingencies that determine the retention period for each record type.
Compliance requirements document A compliance requirements document defines the rules to which IT systems for records management must adhere, the capabilities they must have, and the kinds of regular monitoring they must support in order to ensure compliance.
Formal process for suspending the disposition of records This process, which is often called a hold, details how an organization suspends the disposition of records when events such as litigation, audits, or investigations occur.
System for monitoring and reporting the handling of records To ensure that employees are filing, accessing, and managing records according to defined policies and processes, a records management program must have a process or system for monitoring and reporting on the handling of records.
Configuring a Records Center site
After an organization engages in detailed planning of records management and develops a formal plan for records management, it can create and configure a Records Center site to help it implement this program.
You need to take the following steps to configure a Records Center site:
Create record libraries or lists to manage and store each type of record that is specified in the file plan.
We recommend that you create one record library for each content type in your records plan.
When records are submitted to the Records Center, they are routed to the relevant list or library.
Create columns for the relevant document libraries, lists, or content types to contain and display the metadata for each record type that is specified in the file plan.
Specify the information management policies for each record type on the Records Center site. These policies should reflect the retention periods and auditing requirements that are specified in your organization's file plan and retention schedule.
Configure the Content Organizer to route each record type to the appropriate location. When records are submitted to the Records Center site, either manually or programmatically, the application uses this feature to determine how to classify the record within the Records Center site and where to send it.