Curating Cloud Content: Document Retention Policies for Cloud

Curating Cloud Content: Document Retention Policies for Cloud

Curating Cloud Content: Document Retention Policies for Cloud

July 25, 2017 | Posted by: Heather MacKinnon |

Microsoft’s recent introduction of the Security and Compliance tool has opened many more possibilities for managing content in Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive and Groups. Today I will focus solely on Retention within Data Governance.

When content was managed on-premises, the possibility of shared drive content growing infinitely each year was really… not that big of a deal, right? Just add more VMs, increase storage, etc. Honestly, for a small IT team, that might have been the least of their worries. However, dumping mass data and letting it expand in the cloud can bring you right back to where you started: Poor organization, muddied search results and no insight into how your users interact with documents.

Over the past few years, we have helped hundreds of organizations move their content into the cloud. One of our first questions is: what is your retention strategy? This applies to the content going into the cloud, as well as what’s left behind. Often, we find no policy in place, let alone enforcement of the policy, on-premises. While it’s easy to leave some data behind and move forward with a fresh cloud document management system, failing to develop and configure a retention policy for your cloud content upfront is risky. Sure, your content is safe in the cloud, but it’s not being managed efficiently.

Here are some of the key reasons to set retention policies upfront:

  • Configuring retention policies keeps your data flowing, not stagnant and growing. Features such as file versioning ensure your data is current, searches yield usable results and you are not paying for extra content storage you don’t need.
  • On the flip side, you can configure retention policies to keep the data you don’t want to lose, such as important product development files, policies and legal, HR or accounting data. With proper retention policies, you can create copies of this important data that stay in your tenant even if a user deletes it.
  • Not every user is going to remember to classify files correctly (or at all). That’s OK. With retention settings, you can create classifications and labels that can automatically be applied throughout your tenant. A user did not flag a contract as “Internal Use Only”? No problem. Your retention policy can pick that up and make sure it is retained according to schedule.
  • You can apply retention policies to everyone/everywhere, specific locations or specific users. You can even use keywords to make sure critical information is caught and retained. Have a top-secret project underway? Add the project name as a keyword to your new retention policy to keep that content safe.
  • The security and compliance portal contains a dashboard that helps you keep track of your content flow. No logging into a separate system, running reports, exporting to Excel, processing data, etc., to make decisions. The dashboard is in the same portal as the retention page, so it’s easy to create, edit, remove and apply policies on the fly. Have you added 1 TB of data to SharePoint in the past month? Might want to investigate or create a new retention policy to handle that new content.

Now more than ever, the importance of creating a holistic document governance strategy prior to cloud implementation is clear. Retention is only a piece, but a simple start that should be discussed upfront as part of migration planning. Learn more about Data Governance and Retention here.

Heather MacKinnon
SharePoint Practice Lead

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