[Editor’s Note: While I was able to attend SPC14 for the first two days and talk to a number of key SharePoint Records and Information Management thought leaders (both within and outside Microsoft), circumstances back home prevented me from staying long enough to attend any of the conference sessions. With that in mind, I’ve asked our good friend from the Netherlands, Eric Burger, if he would permit us to publish an English-language version of his SPC14 Records Management and Compliance summary that appears on his blog. Eric kindly agreed. Here’s what he had to report. - Don]

SPC 14 Having been treated to a one hour speech on the benefits of communication technology by former president Bill Clinton, SharePoint Conference 2014 kicked into high gear with a keynote by Jared Spataro, General Manager Product Marketing at Microsoft. He highlighted the remarkable growth of SharePoint, Office 365 and SharePoint Online sales.  However, subsequent speeches by amongst others, Julia White, whose live demos introduced innovations in Office 365 not previously shown, got the audience really loose.  A far-reaching integration of Office and social features called Office Graph, which breaches the traditional dividing lines between the domains documents, email, and social will be released in the coming months.  Elements of Yammer can be added so that an overall picture of interaction, trends, communication and importance of certain objects, people and communications is created on the fly.  The entirely new ‘Oslo’ concept, which allows the user to work from a visually very attractive, individually composed screen, has been developed to bring the working environment – documents, actions, people – intuitively to the user, to make him or her ‘work like a network’.

The last demonstrations in Monday’s keynotes were a pleasant surprise to all of us compliance-minded professionals. A brand new Compliance Center in Office 365 is the SharePoint- and Exchange dashboard for the compliance officer or record manager. Existing functions for security (encryption, data loss prevention, and information rights management), audit, e-Discovery and retention can now be activated, configured and controlled on tenant level. Previously, most of these functions were limited to configuration per site collection. Auditing in Office 365 has been extended with ‘viewing’, something that already existed for on prem. And audit reports – just a prototype in the demo – will be readable soon! Adding to the transparency trend, an ‘admin audit log’ will make Microsoft administrators’ steps traceable. These functions extend to Exchange, so compliance officers will have control of e-mail messages, can even put deleted messages on hold.

Also new are the ‘deletion policies’ in Exchange and SharePoint Online, by which specified categories of messages and documents can be disposed of after a certain time. This is not intended as a retention period applied to a process or content type (retention policies), but for example, allows e-mail notifications (meetings, tasks) to be removed automatically.  It struck me that the granularity of this functionality overlaps with new opportunities in e-Discovery (time-based hold) and retention policies, so that even the speakers occasionally came up with the same examples for the various functionalities.  We have to find the right scenario’s for each.
Once again, Microsoft added functionality to its legal hold features, extending hold with time-based hold. Holds can be applied from the Hold Center to any keyword, metadata element, webpage or item in SharePoint, Exchange, Lync and file-shares. Yammer is still excluded, though, and any relevant content from social should be exported to a file-share first to be added to a hold.

So this Compliance Center is a big step forward in centralized SharePoint information governance. On Tuesday, Astrid McClean, Senior Program Manager Information Protection, did an excellent job in explaining the Microsoft ‘in-place’ strategy and diverse functionalities brought together here. Check out her presentation (audio and slides).

Some of the 200+ sessions in this conference dug deeper into existing (mostly SP2010-) implementations of records management in SharePoint for large multinational companies.  Main lessons to take home there: yes, you can do records management in SharePoint, even for the biggest multinational corporations, including General Motors worldwide. And, yes, record management should be centrally managed with compelling governance at the highest level.

Daniel Harris in his General Motors presentation (‘Managing 130,000 Users’ Documents and Records – Making It Easy While Maintaining Control’) focused heavily on the issue of governance.  Not entirely out of the box SP2010, governance was maintained by a custom form for easy site provisioning. Security- and retention policies and metadata were all pre-arranged there. As only 25Gb site-collections are handed out, anything bigger asks for new registration.  Before provisioning is activated two dedicated owners, a half hour of training and confirmation of compliance rules is obligatory.  Automatic provisioning also creates record centers for each of these site-collections.  Also, a few end-users’ buttons were added to file documents as a record.

Examples in a presentation by Nishan DeSilva, Senior Director, Information Governance Microsoft, (‘SharePoint for Large Scale Records Management – Hundreds of Millions of Documents and Beyond ‘) confirmed:

- Large archives in SharePoint are not the problem, uncontrollable growth of site-collections is;
- Custom workflows might be added to out of the box rules, to meet organizations’ needs in site provisioning;
- Only by strict and (where possible) automated governance is a large records management implementation controllable.

Other best practices, on Metadata and Content Type Planning, came from Lori Gowin, Premier Field Engineer at Microsoft. After all, we know that content types are often at the core of records management processes in SharePoint. Some jeering erupted though when pen and paper or whiteboard were still to be regarded as best practice. And of course: MS Excel!  The audience expected a little more sophisticated tooling by now. Her overview highlighted a few key lessons:

- Do not change or remove any of the default content types in SharePoint – terrible things can happen – but make new types, derived from the standard;
- Plan in advance and make sure that the design has some room to grow;
- Keep the list of content types (not very clear to begin with in SharePoint) by formulating ‘categories’ as simple as possible;
- Use the content type hub to publish content types beyond the boundaries of site collections.

So where Office 365 was lacking robust records management functionality at the time of its 2011 introduction, it is now delivering the latest Microsoft technology, with SharePoint on premise falling behind. Code for the Compliance Center had just been tested shortly before SPC14 and will be shipping – added to the Office 365 environment automatically – in a couple of months.

SPC 14 VegasLas Vegas is quickly becoming my second home…

I just want to let our readers know that I will be in Vegas this coming Sunday and Monday (3/2 and 3/3) to attend the opening of the SharePoint Conference. I would love to meet with anyone attending the conference who’s interested in talking SharePoint and Next Generation Records Management.

Let me know if you’d like to get together and exchange ideas. I’m available for coffee in the morning or a beer (or two) any time after that.

Cheers,
Don

Magic Quadrant - SmallAs many of you know, I have been busy with a new online forum, NextGenRM.org, which is focused on innovative information lifecycle management solutions to the challenges faced by today’s Records Management professionals.  It’s really an interesting community of professionals and I would encourage everyone who reads this blog to check it out.  (You can find it here.)

The new forum has left me unable to update this site as frequently as I would like, but I did want to take a moment to point out that our friends at Gartner released their annual Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management a few months back and, as always, it had a few interesting things to say about SharePoint.

As with past reports, SharePoint is positioned among the highest rated products in the ‘Leaders’ quadrant.  Gartner noted that SharePoint’s market penetration is extremely high, with about half of their client interactions involving SharePoint in some capacity.  Gartner also notes improvements in SharePoint 2013 and an increase migrations to 2013 from SharePoint 2007 and 2010.

Gartner mentions a lower-than-expected user adoption rate as a SharePoint ‘caution’ and suggests Microsoft continue to improve SharePoint’s interfaces and user experience capabilities.

No specific mention was made of SharePoint’s records management functionality in this year’s report, but it is worth noting that Gartner still weighs much of their evaluation of records management features based on the product’s compliance with the US DoD 5015.2 Standard.  SharePoint 2013 is not natively compliant with the DoD 5015.2, but many Records Management professionals (including myself) now question the value of virtually all of the records management features the Standard requires.

The entire report can be found here.  Check out Gartner’s thoughts on all the different ECM products it evaluated.  As usual, they provide some excellent analysis.

Tropical vacationRegular readers of this blog know that I believe ‘information governance’ is simply another term for the work that Records Management professionals have performed for (quite literally) hundreds of years: efficiently managing recorded information through its complete lifecycle.  So when I saw that Microsoft’s TechNet had posted an article called ‘Governance Planning in SharePoint 2013’, I was particularly intrigued.

Turns out article goes well beyond basic information governance to include whole sections on ‘IT Governance’ and ‘Application Management’, but the readers of this blog will get the most use out of the ‘Information Management and Governance in SharePoint 2013’ section.

If you are upgrading to SharePoint 2013 or planning to deploy it in the near future, reading through this new guidance will be a good use of your time.

MS SharePoint RM Case StudyIn a recent article I posted to AIIM’s Expert blog page, I argued that any organization considering the purchase of an Information Lifecycle Management product should insist on a comprehensive demonstration by the product’s vendor detailing how the vendor successfully implements their own product internally.  (Having been in this industry for a long time, I can tell you that a shockingly low number of product vendors actually eat their own dog food.)  I further argued that if the product is not good enough for the vendor to use, it certainly isn’t good enough for you to buy.

Right on cue, Microsoft released this case study yesterday, describing in detail how the company – supported by our old friends at Gimmal and the folks at Iron Mountain – are leveraging native SharePoint capabilities to implement a unified records management solution that spans digital and physical records, on-premises and in the cloud, here in the US and in scores of countries across the globe.

If you ever doubted that SharePoint was capable of managing content through every phase of the information lifecycle, I highly recommend you check this compelling case study out.

Vegas, Baby, VegasJust want everyone to know that I’m winging it out to Sin City at the end of the month to attend the ARMA 2013 Conference and I’d love to talk SharePoint records and information management with anyone interested.

I’m not going to try to sell you anything, I promise.  In fact, I’m more interested in learning from you.  I want to hear about your real-world experiences – both good and bad – implementing SharePoint information lifecycle management solutions.

If you are attending the ARMA conference and you can spare an hour or so, please contact me through my corporate site  at www.harborpointim.com.

The first cup of coffee (or, this being Vegas, tequila shot :-)) is on me.

Hope to see you there,

Don

SPRM 5th BirthdayIt’s that time of the year again when we give ourselves an annual pat on the back.  This month marks our fifth year of publication and we couldn’t be more grateful.  I want to thank all the contributors, commenters and support folks who have allowed us to continue to publish this long.  And I particularly want to express my gratitude to our many loyal readers from every corner of the globe.  A half-decade is a long time to commit to anything these days and your loyal readership is greatly appreciated.

I was recently accused by someone who claimed to be a long-time follower of this blog with being on Microsoft’s payroll and ‘paid to push Microsoft’s agenda’.  (That comment can be found here.)  I want to take this opportunity to reiterate that this blog has always been completely independent, written entirely by me and paid for out of my own pocket.  I have never taken a cent from Microsoft (nor any other vendor) and I have no intention to do so.  That policy will not change.

With a little luck – and your continued support – we will remain the number one island-themed SharePoint Records and Information Management blog on the Internet for many more years to come.  I’m looking forward to it…

Thanks, again.

Best Wishes,

Don

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