Microsoft have posted up a virtual lab to showcase the Records Management capabilities. The lab basically took you through:
- creating a new records center
- creating some Document Libraries for Financial Reports, Contracts, and Product Development Files. All with some custom metadata, retention policies and audit policies.
- creating record routing for each Content Type.
- configuring Central Administration to map a SharePoint instance to the Records Center
- applying a Document Library to a newly created Content Type e.g. Financial Reports
- submitting a Document to the Records Center
The problem I had with the Virtual Lab is that although it does demonstrate the features of the Record Center. It doesn't particularly explain a scenario that an Enterprise would go through and the purpose of the Records Center. The Records Center paradigm is not the same as how most Records Managers think and if I demonstrated this to one of them they'd eat me alive!
The problem I am having is trying to compare this to other Records Management products out there and how SharePoint will compete against them in Tender Responses and Presentations.
I also found a web cast that walks you through creating a Records Center.
I have summarised the Records Center functionality here.
For those of you that haven't even looked at the Records capabilities these are the Policy options you have out of the box:
From this interface you can basically get it to expire based on a simple metadata datetime field. This does have it's limitations, but you can code around this. You may have a business rule that not only checks expiration, but also checks whether the document has been printed for example (weird requirement granted). I'm sure under the hood this are just Events hooked up to the library that constantly spin through each item to check for expiry and then trigger the actions or workflows you assign. Again, this can all be extended very heavily, but out of the box this is what you can do. I expect Partners to extend on these things very soon to cater for meeting standards.
Record Routing controls what happens to the Records when they enter the Records Center. This is how you configure what Document Libraries they get put into. Records can be received via email, Web Services and from the SharePoint interface. With Web Services, that basically means that third party applications can also send records to the the Records Center.
Create new Record
I was looking at the Record Routing create screen and noticed that the Library mandatory field is a single line text field...as apposed to a drop down of all the Document Libraries within the Records Center. I'm not quite sure what the advantage is of this and could lead to some ugly errors and troubleshooting hours with typos. I remember reading somewhere about someone putting an extra space in this box at the end of the name of the Document Library and spending hours to find this out!
Saving Documents into a Library
It also highlights a key feature of SharePoint where you can force Document Libraries to be managed by Content Types. So that when Users save documents in the Document Library it prompts them to declare what Document Type it is.
It shows how by configuring in the Central Administration a link to the Records Center form the SharePoint instance you get options to Send To Records Center on items in a Document Library.
What was nice, was that as the Record Routing was configured to go to the Records Center | Contracts Document Library, it prompted the User to enter the Final Effective Date for the Record as this column was set as mandatory. This is how SharePoint is trying to enforce a File Plan strategy.
When I clicked view properties on the new Contract Record I couldn't see the expiry date that is mentioned in the Virtual Lab.