Our plans for documenting records management features

Hello, everyone. My name is Rob Silver. I’m a technical writer working on content supporting the records management features and scenarios that Tina, Ethan, and Jason have been discussing with you in this blog. As I’ve learned about the needs of records managers and the IT teams that work with them, and about the great records management feature-set built into Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, I’ve become aware of how important effective, comprehensive documentation can be to the success of a records management deployment based on Office SharePoint Server.

I’d like to use this posting to start a conversation with you records managers, information analysts, IT pros, and legal specialists who are considering using Office SharePoint Server to implement your records management solution. I’ll point you to the Web site where we regularly post our IT content set, including my records management planning content, and hopefully get some of your feedback on it. And I’ll tell you about our content plans (both the content directly related to records management and the wider content set that will enable your IT teams to deploy and maintain Office SharePoint Server successfully).

The heart of our content plans for IT professionals, application administrators, information analysts, and solutions designers (including, of course, records managers) is a set of online books that guide you through the "lifecycle" of planning, deploying, customizing, operating, and troubleshooting your solution based on Office SharePoint Server. You can see this content taking shape at the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Tech Center. Notice the set of content links in the middle of the page under "SharePoint Server 2007 Technical Library (Beta)." This is beta content, so take it with a grain of salt, but there’s a lot there already and it will continue to grow as we approach the product release (and it will continue to grow beyond then as we get your feedback).

For records management, I focused on first delivering you planning and overview content. I did this because, first, I wanted to make it clear what we mean by records management. I thought this was important both to enterprises just getting started in records management and to actively working records managers who may want to make sure that we mean the same thing as they do by "records management." Secondly, in our model of managing a successful deployment, effective planning is a prerequisite to an effective deployment. Planners need content to help them build a design specification document that then drives deployment. Our planning content is designed to support that activity.

So let’s take a look at some of the planning content of interest to records managers. On the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server Tech Center home page, click on Planning and Architecture. This will take you to the TOC of our planning content. There are two sections that will be particularly interesting to you: of course, Plan records management, but also Plan document management.

Most of the topics in Plan document management are relevant to you. Our program managers and product developers designed a set of core features (such as auditing, workflows, policies, and the other features that Jason and Ethan have been writing about) that apply both to active document management and to records management. So to understand, for example, "content types," you learn about them in the core document management content and then learn how to apply them to records in the records management content. Also, learning about both our active document management and our records management features will get you thinking about some of the benefits of integrating these features across the active document and records management wings of your enterprise.

Now let’s look at the contents in Plan records management. Here’s what I’ve written so far:

These links are live! Please read the topics and give me your feedback:

  • Are the topics relevant to you?
  • Do they go into enough detail?
  • Do they give you enough guidance in making decisions?
  • Did you have questions, as you read the content, that weren’t answered?

Here are a couple other topics I plan on writing soon:

  • Planning physical records retention
  • Planning email integration

What other planning topics related to records management would you like to see?

In this blog posting, I focused on our planning content for records management solutions based on Office SharePoint Server. I’ll post again in a while and talk about how our deployment and operations content is designed to support you.

I’d like to close by modifying something that Jason Cahill wrote in a previous posting on this blog: "The most important step that you can take to lower the cost of running your organization, whether you’re wearing your IT hat, your legal hat, or your records management hat, is to have consistent business policies and practices, backed up with good software and technology and documentation to help manage the volume of your enterprise’s content."

I hope that, based on your feedback, we can give you the great content you need to help you in planning, deploying, running (and occasionally troubleshooting) your records management solution based on Office SharePoint Server.

Thanks for reading,

Rob Silver, Office SharePoint Server Documentation Team