By Cathy Dew
SharePoint Information Management Tools are Moving into Office 365
Over the past 3 months, Microsoft has implemented several significant feature changes in regards to document management and retention policies. These changes have raised the scope of the SharePoint Document management rules to Office 365 wide. This allows the Office 365 Admin to provide the same rules and document management policies across MS Exchange, OneDrive and SharePoint. Centralization of the document management rules into the Office365 Security & Compliance Center will continue and you should be keeping an eye on Office 365 announcements for new or enhanced features.
Labels, Label Policies, & Retention Policies are designed to replace the Retention Rules assigned within SharePoint Content Types. Content Types are still extremely useful for Metadata collection for SharePoint documents, but the Retention Rules are being split apart from the SharePoint Content Types. Embedding Retention Rules within SharePoint Content Types will be supported for a while, but should be considered deprecated and will be remove at some point in the future.
For a deep dive into document management, from content types to workflows and document centers, check out our topic page "SharePoint Document Management: Document retention and collaborative tools for teams."
Office365 Classifications – Labels
Labels are the new pathway for marking documents so they can be identified and managed appropriately. Via different label designations, the user can assist the Office 365 Administrator to identify documents that:
Need to be retained for a minimum period of time
Permanently deleted when they reach a specific age
Retained for a specific period and then permanently deleted
Marked as records and cannot be changed or deleted
As stated, labels can be applied manually by the document creator. Additionally, with the proper Office 365 license level, labels can be applied automatically via data content detection, sensitive information templates (OneDrive & SharePoint) or keywords (Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, Office365 Groups).
Labels can also be setup to apply to all documents in a document library (Via Library Settings – Apply Label), or all email and documents in an Exchange folder (Folder Properties).
Note: You can only apply one label to a document at a time. When there is a conflict, manual application takes highest precedence. With Folders/Libraries, Auto-Labeling as the hierarchy of precedence (higher to lower), and when auto-labeling has a conflict among multiple rules the oldest rule in affect will be used.
Office365 Classifications – Label Policies
Label policies are the retention or record application rules in effect for a document when a label is applied. Labels can be reused between different policies and locations. Therefore, it’s important that the Office 365 Administrator and the Data Governance group think though the setup and usage of the labels and policies so they are utilized in a manner that doesn’t cause confusion.
One important note: Once Label polices are published they can take 1 - 3 days to appear in their target locations for manual application. Auto-application of labels via sensitive data templates or keyword queries can take 5 – 7 days to be applied.
Label Policies allow the Office 365 Administrator to apply record and retention rules with some granularity and user involvement. Don’t confuse Label Policy retention rules with the Office 365 wide retention policies that can be setup via the Data Governance settings. We’ll discuss these Office 365 wide policies in the next section.
One strength of Label Polices is their rules can be in affect from when the label is applied versus when the document was created or last modified.
Lastly, labels can assist with in-place records management. A “records” label can be made available to the end users to change the status of a document. When a “records” label is applied, the document is flagged as a record the document is “locked” and the document cannot be edited, permanently deleted, nor label changed or removed.
Data Governance – Retention
Retention rules can also be applied Office 365 wide, location specific, or even user specific. Rules can be applied to all content, or via the sensitive information templates.
One big difference with the Data Governance – Retention Policies versus Label Policies is the Preservation Hold Library. This is a special holding area to ensure that copies of the target document are retained for the period required after edits or deletes. Documents in the Preservation Hold Library are scanned for expiration of the retention rules in affect, and when the retention rule expiration is 7 days old, the document is permanently deleted. Documents that are not changed or manually deleted before the retention rule expiration are moved into the 2-stage recycle bin which permanently deletes documents after 93 days.
Another difference with Data Governance – Retention Policies are that the rules are applied via the age (create date or last modified date) of the document. The date of the rule application is not used for rule expiration.
The biggest strength of the Data Governance – Retention Policies is the application by location. You can create Retention Polices that are specific for departmental needs and then apply them to all the Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive locations that the department employees communicate and store their documents. This ensures that the whole department is covered by their specific document retention policy.
Upgrading Your Current SharePoint Document Management Policies
Unfortunately, there is no automated way for you to migrate from Content Type Retention rules to Label Policies or Retention Policies. Additionally, you might have many unique Content Types that are specific to departmental site collections, so manual audit could be needed to identify all the Retention Rules currently in affect within your Corporate environment. So, plan on a methodical trip through your SharePoint Online system to catalog your current rules and then analyze them for migration to Label and Retention Policies.
In the meantime, see how a SharePoint Document Center can elevate the level of your document managment.
Do you need help building new Office 365 Document Management Policies? Or migrating your current SharePoint Retention Rules to Office 365? The processes can be involved—particularly for first-timers. At 2Plus2, we’d be happy to walk you through the steps for building of document management strategies that meet your company’s internal and compliance needs. From designing custom content types, Office 365 Labels & Office 365 Label Policies, to Office 365 Retention Rules, our SharePoint experts can help you get a handle on SharePoint Online and Office 365.
Go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.