SharePoint 2010 Cookbook: In Place Records Management for a Document Library

SharePoint 2010 delivers a comprehensive set of document and records management features. In this article, we take a look at a new feature called In Place Records Management.


In our company, we use SharePoint to manage our documents. Some of our documents are required our Legal department to adhere to certain records management policies.  Since the policy of these documents can differ for each department, project, and even type of document, we do not want to send all documents into a records portal where they are centrally  archived.

What can we do to provide records management control at each site or document library level?


While SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) provides Records Management capabilities, you must send the record over to the Records Center for archiving purposes.  In SharePoint 2010 Server, you can declare an item (document, wiki, blog, or list item) as a record at the site where the item was created, and have it adhere to a set record management policy.  The retention policy can be applied globally at the Content Type level, or at each document library to give you more flexibility in business practices.

Let’s walk through the steps on how we can use this feature.


Step 1: Activate the In Place Records Management Feature

The first step is to activate the In Place Records Management feature at your site collection, since it is not activated default.  To activate, follow these steps:

  • At the top site collection level, go to Site Actions > Site Settings > Site Collection Features
  • Activate the In Place Records Management feature

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Step 2: Setting Records Declarations

Next, you want to set the standard records declaration for the site collection.  Remember that these settings can be adjusted at each document library.

  • At the same Site Collection settings page, click on Site Collection Administration > Record declaration settings:

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You can now set the edit and delete restriction when a document is declared as a record.  You can also allow manual record declaration selecting the “Available in all locations default” radio button.  If this button is not checked, then the only way to declare a record is via workflow and/or using your information policy.  You can also define which security roles can declare a record:


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Step 3: Document Library Settings

Next, you can override some records settings at the document library level.  Click on the Document Library, and select Library Tools > Library > Library Settings:

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Click on the Record declaration settings link, and you will see the options to either use the settings that were set at the site collection level, or to allow record declaration at the document library level:

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Step 4: Declare a Record

  • Go to your document library, select Library Tools > Document and select a document or Document Set.
  • Click on Declare Record in the Ribbon.  Note that this icon is visible since we opted to be able to manually declare a record anywhere in our site collection.  You will not see this icon if you opted for automatic declaration.

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Note that in the example above, you can conveniently select the entire Document Set to declare it as a record.  Once you have declared a document as a record, there will be a padlock symbol on the icons.

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So, what will happen to my documents?

Once a document becomes a record, it will follow the record retention policy set for the Content Type that your document was based on.  For out-of-the-box documents, this would be the Document Content Type.  You can override and create a new policy at each document library selecting Information management policy settings at the document library settings page:

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Next, you will see the content types that are available in the current document library:

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Click on a content type, and you will see the document retention, auditing, bar code, and label settings for each of the document type:

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How to Undeclare a record

There is no icon to undeclare a record in the Ribbon.  In order to undeclare a record, go to the item and select Compliance Details on the drop down menu:

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From the pop up form, select Undeclare record.  Note that you will need the correct permissions in order to undeclare a record, which were set in the Site Collection settings page.  In some situations, when this menu is disabled, make sure that your document library is not set to automatic declaration mode.

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As you have seen in this example, you can perform records management in SharePoint 2010 Server at the individual sites without having to route documents to the Records Center as in the previous SharePoint version.  There are some main features of using In Place Records Management:

  • You can declare a document into a record manually or automatically.
  • It’s easier for the project team to manage the archive process.
  • Think carefully through the design of your folders and document sets in the document library.  Once you have declared any document as a record, simple things like changing the properties of the parent folder or Document Set are not possible.

There are some disadvantages of using In Place Records Management versus a document center that you should consider:

  • The In Place Records Management feature is only available in SharePoint 2010 Server and is not part of the SharePoint Foundation 2010.
  • In Place Records Management is distributed nature, so a compliance officer will have a harder time searching for a document all over your site. Document audits might take more time unless you plan for appropriate search or alerts when documents are archived.
  • Security is controlled at the site, not at the Records Center.
  • Most of these negatives can actually be mitigated  forwarding the document over to a Records Center as the next phase.

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