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Designing a File Plan for Records Management with SharePoint Server 2013

At the heart of any records management process should be a file plan, meaning a method of organizing records into a repository. This repository should be structured so stakeholders in the success of the records management effort can obtain the information they require from the records reposed in the system.

It is certainly possible to design, implement, and operate a records management system on any one of a variety of enterprise document management (EDM) systems, including, but not restricted to SharePoint. Therefore, a practical file plan for the system should include some information pertaining directly to the specific platform chosen as the underlying foundation for the process. Ultimately, the purpose of the file plan is to provide a post processing method for automating the activities associated with managing records.

Our course on Records Management with SharePoint Server 2013, which is presented by John Holliday, a subject matter expert, and published author on this topic, includes some information about file plans in the first tutorial in this set. As well, a short video tutorial titled “File Plan Development Strategies” is entirely devoted to this topic.

The file plan must answer four important questions:

  • What document types will the system manage?
  • For how long will these files be reposed in the system? (in other words, what is the retention period?)
  • What actions will be included in the retention policy?
  • What are the role assignments?

Given the types of questions to be answered in the file plan, it may make sense to include it in an overall governance policy for SharePoint.

John Holliday emphasizes the importance of first establishing a retention policy for documents to be reposed in the records management system, and then designing a method of classifying the documents.

In this video we also differentiate record types from content types. The most popular tools for developing file plans, MS Excel, InfoPath, or NotePad and Word, also make heavy use of columns for item labels. So it is very important to understand the differences between record and content types, since the same tools are commonly used to build both sets of hierarchies.

On the other hand, SharePoint can certainly be successfully used to manage lists with large numbers of items. These lists are typical components of this type of records management system.

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved