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What is In-Place Records Management?

When you are searching for a Records Management solution, there are many choices.  Many of them have similar features, although there are a few things that set them apart from each other.  One such feature is In-Place Records Management.

What is In-Place Records Management?

In-Place Records Management is when the Records Management Solution does not physically move the content to manage it; the content remains it its original location, but the solution is managing the retention policies and overall File Plan for the content.

Not all solutions are architected to use in-place records management.  Many solutions utilize the concept of moving the content so it can be managed.  Although this may be desirable in some situations, if you move the content you have to consider your security and workflow, and how the users will find the content once it is moved.

In the example of SharePoint, the Records Management features of SharePoint do enable you to manage records in-place (starting with SharePoint 2010), but unfortunately, many of the other records management features in SharePoint are very weak or non-existent.  But that is a topic for a different post.  Before SharePoint 2010, you had to move the document to a Records Center for it to be managed.

There are situations in which you might want to transfer your records to another location, but you don't want that to be a requirement to manage them.  For example, the lifecycle of a particular type of record might be to transfer the records to a different storage location as the first phase of the lifecycle and then when the retention period has expired, perform the actual disposition of the records.  That is a valid use case, and your solution should accommodate for this.  But you don't want that to be a requirement.

There are many advantages of In-Place Records Management.  Here are five reasons to consider this functionality: 

  1. Your users can still find their documents in the same place.   The users will still search and view the documents the same way; they don't have to go to a different location or use a different interface to find the documents.
  2. Security does not have to be replicated.  The security that you created for your documents is still applicable since the documents will not be moved.  The originating business system is still responsible for the document and controlling the security.  You don't want to have to re-create a security plan inside your Records Management solution.  It should be noted that the Records Management solution should absolutely have the ability to lock down a record (e.g. make it immutable), but it should be able to do that without moving the record.
  3. Centralized policies.  This may not be a standard feature for all solutions with In-Place Records Management, but it should be.  Your policies should be managed in a central location by a single web interface.  This is especially relevant if you have disparate systems.  Your Records Managers should have a single File Plan to manage, and that File Plan should be managed from a single interface.
  4. Your workflow does not have to change.  Since the content hasn't moved, your workflow processes do not have to be updated to incorporate a new location for the documents.  Updating workflows can become an arduous task if you have extensive workflows.  If your documents are being moved, you also need to consider if your existing workflow solution can interface with the new repository.
  5. One solution for all disparate systems.  Many large organizations have a variety of repositories in which their data is stored.  If you are forced to move your content to a centralized repository, this can be an overwhelming task and may take many years to complete in a large organization.  In contrast, if your data can remain in-place, then the Records Management Solution can be implemented faster because it doesn't have to move the data and it will just need to know the location of the data.

In summary, consider the location of your data and how many repositories you have in your organization.  Will the process of relocating your data be a disruption to your business and a long-term disadvantage?  If so, then you should consider In-Place Records Management.

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