Selecting the Right Tools for Records Management

By Gatewood, Brent | Information Management, January/February 2009 | Go to article overview

Selecting the Right Tools for Records Management


Gatewood, Brent, Information Management


SharePoint is popular as a collaboration tool, but is it robust enough for managing records enterprise-wide?

Microsoft's SharePoint is becoming ubiquitous. If it isn't in your organization yet, it most likely will be soon. There are several beneficial reasons for this from an infrastructure and architecture standpoint. But, as a records and information management (RIM) professional, you will - if you haven't already - receive that call: "Can't we use SharePoint to manage our records?"

Take a deep breath before you answer.

What SharePoint Is - and Is Not

To answer that question, it's important to look at what SharePoint is and what it isn't. SharePoint started its life as a team site tool for collaboration purposes. Today's SharePoint (MOSS 2007) is a much-improved offering but still has its focus on collaboration. The SharePoint Portal Server was first released in 2001, and there have been two significant (full-version) updates in just six years. Obviously, Microsoft is dedicating resources to the development of the SharePoint family. A careful look at SharePoint's overview and capabilities as listed by Microsoft on the SharePoint website (www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/prodinfo/defaulLmspx) shows:

Office SharePoint Server 2007 is an integrated suite of server capabilities that can help improve organizational effectiveness by providing comprehensive content management and enterprise search, accelerating shared business processes, and facilitating information sharing across boundaries for better business insight.

And on SharePoint's capabilities site (www.microsoft.com/sharepoint/ capabilities /defaultmspx):

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 provides a single, integrated location where employees can efficiently collaborate with team members, find organizational resources, search for experts and corporate information, manage content and workflow, and leverage business insight to make better-informed decisions.

From the records management perspective, there is something missing from the references above - any mention of records or lifecycle management. The focus is on collaboration and presentation, not control and disposition.

What DoD 5015.2 Certification Means

The above information illustrates that SharePoint was not intended as a records management tool. It was, however, certified as compliant with DoD 5015.2-STD Electronic Records Management Software Applications Design Criteria Standard in May of 2007. This Department of Defense (DoD) standard is generally considered the baseline for functionality concerning records management software and was developed specifically for the certification of records management applications to be deployed in DoD (and, ultimately, most government) settings. In the absence of any other standard in the U.S. marketplace, the DoD spec has become the de facto standard for commercial implementations of records management software as well.

The SharePoint certification and general availability of the DoD 5015.2 Resource Kit (an add-on enabling functionality required for DoD compliance) seem to indicate that Microsoft is indeed promoting SharePoint for records management. The question is: Can a solid records management solution be put together by adding the DoD Resource Kit to a standard MOSS 2007 installation?

Unfortunately, the answer is "no," as the company states on its own Microsoft Records Management Team Blog (http://bbgs.msdn.com/recman/ archive /2008 /02/09 /announcing-thedod-5015-2-resource-kit-for-sharepoint-server-2007.aspx ):

...the Resource Kit is not intended for customers, who would like to enhance the records management functionality of MOSS 2007 with particular 5015.2-oriented features but are not required to run their system in a certified configuration.

Also:

The DoD 5015.2 Resource Kit is intended only [emphasis added] for customers, who are required to run their records management system in a DoD 5015. …

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