SharePoint and Office 365 are the ideal platform for enterprise collaboration, and offer some enterprise-grade information governance features. The Microsoft platform provides excellent value on its own, but can easily be extended with third-party software to enable IG and records management features that provide industry leading compliance from within a system users can already understand.
Here are three information governance capabilities that organizations should consider implementing in SharePoint to make the most of their Microsoft investment.
Classification via Metadata
The ability to automatically classify information through automatic metadata assignment can greatly increase information value, minimize risk, and eliminate manual efforts. As we have mentioned in previous blog posts, one of the keys to improving your information governance program is eliminating end user involvement. The majority of your users are not trained on IG and the onus to properly classify records should not fall to them.
By relying on a manual process, the adherence to organizational information management policy is placed directly in the hands of the end users. End users, while having the best insight into how the information should be classified, typically will not take the time to accurately assign relative metadata. Especially in a large organization where new records are created hourly, there is little hope of handling the growing records using manual processes.
If an organization can, instead, automatically classify their existing and future records based on its metadata, it can eliminate one of the most common information governance roadblocks.
Eliminate manual metadata entry using rules
Historically, information classification requires a lot of user effort. Organizations expected users to consistently apply metadata to content. This metadata was then used to classify the content. This process can involve considerable effort for the users, just to save a file. The experience of filling in text boxes with the needed metadata is cumbersome and time consuming.
On the other hand, when you automate the upload of content and application of metadata by taking advantage of available third-party SharePoint add-ins, you can eliminate another common source of errors.
By defining rule-based workflows triggered by metadata values, we can further automate needed information management processes – like automating the creation/management of regulated copies of content.
Additionally, the third-party add-ins can greatly facilitate the scalable implementation of records management and retention policies in SharePoint.
Managing content outside of SharePoint
While SharePoint is certainly the most popular content and collaboration solution, nearly every organization also uses other systems to store their data. This can range from a file share to cloud-based file sharing solutions.
Third-party software can include records management dashboards that enable you to manage information policies centrally, and apply them consistently across the whole organization. Location or content-based policy enables controls to be enforced transparently.
This is often referred to as "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 in its original location, but the solution is managing the retention policies and overall file plan for the content.
By using an in-place solution, the records team can properly apply the rules and classification discussed above across the entire enterprise. This allows for increased transparency and overall better compliance. Not to mention, the organization benefits from the same automated processes and elimination of end user involvement. Finally, by implementing rules and automatic classification to a file share, for example, end users do not have to change their normal workflows. They can continue to work and save their documents in a familiar place while the records team applies policies behind the scenes.
SharePoint will continue to be the go-to for many organizations when it comes to collaboration and storage. However, the information governance capabilities out-of-the-box are not nearly robust enough for true compliance. By implementing a third-party add-in, the records management gaps can be easily closed and the business can benefit from the automation of several processes that in the past were error-prone and extremely time-consuming.