July 21, 2020

Improving Records Disposition in Microsoft 365

12 minute read

I recently wrote an article about how we improve retention labels in Microsoft 365 (M365) and wanted to continue on the topic of improving the ever growing Microsoft platform.  This post will discuss records disposition with M365 and how Gimmal improves on that. 

First, let's understand what I mean by records disposition.  It is simply the last action taken for a record when it is no longer required or needed by an organization.  The last action may not always be to destroy to content and typically varies depending on the type of records that is being dealt with. 

How disposition works in the Compliance Center 

Configuring Labels for Disposition 

How disposition is handled for a particular record is mostly dependent on how the Retention Label was configured.  When configuring a label there are few options for the final action; just delete the content, trigger a disposition review, or nothing. 

Machine generated alternative text:
When this label is applied to content„. 
Retain the content 
For this long.. 
Do you want us to delete it after this time? 
C) elete the content automatically. 
(O Trigger a disposition review. 
Noti these eo le when there are items read to review 
C) othing. Leave the content as is. 
Don't retain the content. Just delete it if it's older than 
Retain or delete the content based on 
when it was created

Automatic deletion is perfectly fine for many types of business records, as long as you can prove the deletion is happening in a consistent manner according to the rules put in place. 

Triggering a disposition review is more typical approach to how disposition is handled for important business records.  In Microsoft 365, specific people or groups can be targeted for the review, however, there is only one step to the review, so requiring multiple people to approve is not possible. 

The third option is to simply leave content where it is.  In my opinion, this is sort of a cop out.  Yes, it's great that you didn't break any laws by deleting it too soon, but now you're just going to let the content sit in your organization and R.O.T.?  This is a recipe for unstructured content chaos. 

Managing the Disposition Process 

If the Retention Label was configured to trigger a disposition review, one of the assigned reviewers will need to decide what should happen.  Users will be notified weekly if they have items they are set to approve, and they can select specific labels from the file plan to search for documents to approve.  Once found, users can dispose (delete) the content, extend the retention period, or tag (reclassify) with a different label. 

Machine generated alternative text:
DFinalize decision 
Put your justification here.„ 

Smoothing out the disposition process 

Being involved with many organizations records process over the years, we've found a lot of things that can take disposition from hard to easy.  Here at Gimmal, we set out to greatly improve the process on Microsoft 365 and know we can save organizations a lot of headaches during the process.  Here's how we do it: 

Lifecycle - Retention rules are often more complex requiring multiple steps, in which certain steps may need to be parallel.  At the end of each step, an action may be taken, such as: declare the item an official record, move the item, or launch a workflow. 

Machine generated alternative text:
Contract End + 1 Years 
Require Approval Every 
Declare Record 
Contract End + 1 Year(s) > > Automatic Declare Record (Approval) 
Created + 5 Years 
Require Approval Every 
Created + 5 Year(s) > > Automatic Permanent (Approval) 
Contract End + 1 Years 
Require Approval Every 
Dispose and Delete 
Automation Level 
Contract End + 1 Year(s) > > Automatic Dispose and Delete (Approval) 
+ Add Phase 
+ Add Alternate Phase

Disposition actions - While Microsoft 365 allows for delete, reclassify, and extend, Gimmal adds the ability to move the document to another location (typically an archive), or make the item immutable so cannot be changed or deleted.   

Reject  From talking to records managers over the last decade, one thing they've consistently asked for is the ability to reject an item and enable them to come back later to determine what do with it.  This will be appearing in our next version of our records management product. 

Multi-step review - Most business records we have talked to our clients about have at least two people that need to approve.  Often, it's the content owner, followed by records managers, or someone in legal.  Gimmal allows any number of steps for disposition approval, each with any number of possible approvers. 

Bulk review and approval - While the concept of approving in bulk is somewhat possible in Microsoft 365, Gimmal adds a disposition Inbox, allowing approvers to have a consistent area to look at their approvals as well as view for record managers to see what needs to be approved.  Users can work on checking off items to be approved over any period of time and then submit them for disposition in bulk. 

Destruction Certificates - The concept mentioned above regarding disposition in bulk allows our destruction certificates to become very useful.  When approvers batch up their approvals and submit in bulk, it allows one certificate to be created that covers all records in a classification (think retention label) that were approved by that person and destroyed on a given day. 


Microsoft 365 is a great platform to build your information governance program on.  Every day we find something else that makes our clients lives easier, whether it's a new way to use Power Automate, or the possibilities with Microsoft Cortex.  We've been doing records management a long time, and we have found ways to make Compliance in Microsoft 365 even better.  Our goal is to make records management and other ways to govern your information easier, while providing a higher level of compliance with your corporate rules, industry regulations, and the laws you must abide by.   


Learn how to boost your information governance program with Microsoft 365 and beyond HERE! 

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