SharePoint and Information Management Policies

Posted by on May 29, 2009 in SharePoint, SharePoint 2007

Did you know you can create policies within SharePoint that will dictate how long a document will reside in a library before it’s automatically disposed of?  Did you know you can enable barcodes on documents for physical asset recording?  Did you know you can achieve all of this without writing a single piece code?  Information Management Policies within SharePoint is a key and usually under utilised SharePoint feature  that will assist any organisation with the lifecycle management of document  libraries, plus a whole lot more.  These policies can be created at the document library level and even set for each unique content type or you can create site collection level templates that can then be re-used throughout your SharePoint sites.  I will go through each of the components that can be configured within Information Management Policies below.

Firstly, to create a site collection policy, navigate to your top level site and select Site Actions / Site Settings / Modify All Site Settings / Site Collection Administration and click on Site collection policies.

site collection administration SharePoint site collection policies

The below screen will then appear allowing you to create or import an information management policy.  In our case we will click on Create.

site collection policies sharepoint

To create a policy at the document library level, click on Settings / Document Library Settings, within the document library itself and then click on Information management policy settings.

information management policy settings permissions and management sharepoint

Click on Define a policy …

define a policy sharepoint site collection policy

Regardless of where you create your information management policy, the following screen will then appear after clicking on the OK button which allows us to name our policy and also provide a thorough explanation to our end users explaining and making them aware of the policy that is being applied to the content  via the Policy Statement .  The Administrative Description area is specifically for administrators or policy writers in the event that a policy is required to be altered.

SharePoint Information Management Policy

You will notice that SharePoint  includes four information management policy features to help you manage your content.  They are; Expiration, Auditing, Document Labels and Document Bar Codes.  I will go through each of these below with examples to assist in determining when and why you should use information management policy within SharePoint.

Enable Expiration

Enabling expiration on a document library provides you with a basic Information Life Cycle Management (ILM) strategy for your documents and or emails with email enabled document libraries. Expiration options provided allow you to create a consistent retention period for your documents based on create or modified date.  In my case I have specified that items located in the document library that are older than 6 months are automatically deleted.  You also have the option to control how the information is routed, such as creating a workflow that would archive rather than delete the item.

By implementing expiration policies in your document libraries you will reduce unnecessary redundant content and reduce noise in search results.

Expiration ILM SharePoint Policy Statement enable expiration

Enable Labels

This option or feature allows us to uniform the creation of labels in documents ensuring that document properties such as file name, author creation dates etc can be included in the label when a document is printed.

In my example I have created two additional columns in my Document Library, “Project Name” and “Manager” which can now be used in the label format.

Project {Project Name}\n Managed By: {Manager}

(Please note that “\n” creates a new line)

enable labels label format sharepoint

Microsoft Word Document Management Panel SharePoint

Properties item sharepoint

Enable Barcodes

This allows you to generate Code 39 standard barcodes and apply them to your document properties that can also be displayed in the header area of your document.  This is useful when managing physical records such as computer equipment.  By enabling barcodes you are primarily using this feature to track hard copies of documents, i.e. documents that are outside your SharePoint Site.

Barcode SharePoint Information Management Policy

Enable Auditing

This option allows your to create specific audit trails for specific document libraries.  Please note that you can also enable Site Collection Audit Settings that applies to all items within a site collection.  This can be achieved via, Site Actions / Site Settings / Modify All Site Settings / Site Collection Administration, Site collection audit settings.

In summary, auditing provides you with the ability to track specific events (listed in the screen capture below) with regards to the life cycle of a document.

Auditing SharePoint

This information can be accessed via the Excel based Audit Log reports that are also located under Site Settings.  Reports showing the audit trail can be run by site collection administrators.

View Auditing Reports Excel SharePoint

Exemption from Policy

You also have the ability to exempt an individual item from a policy that is being applied to a document library.  Simply navigate to the item that you want to exempt from the policy being applied and click on View Properties.  The below screen will then appear providing you with the ability to click on Exempt from policy …

exempt from policy no exemption sharepoint

A warning will then appear in which you will have the option to click on Exempt to continue or cancel to go back.

Set policy exemption SharePoint

If I now view the properties of the same item, you will notice that the exemption has been applied and also providing you with the ability to reverse the exemption.

The item is exempt from policy.  This item will not be expired until the exemption is removed.

As you can see, setting up Information Management Polices is an easy task and I would be interested to know how many SharePoint Implementations out there are actually using this feature and why?