From time to time when I’m talking to prospective customer about Record Center, I get the question “What made you decide to build this?” It’s a great question, and the answer stems from a conversation I had with the CIO of one of our customers back in 2011. For this particular customer, we had recently implemented SharePoint Server 2010 and were in the process of migrating their Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 sites and content up to 2010, while also planning for a variety of new SharePoint-based applications. When we looked across the portfolio of applications that we were going to build along with all of the other non-SharePoint-based systems they were maintaining, one thing became apparent – their records management story was non-existent. Across the organization, there were at least (that we were aware of) 11 different systems/locations that records could be stored in, and fewer than half of those had an identified business owner. To make matters worse, there was zero consistency in naming conventions, metadata, and classification schemas between the systems. It became immediately apparent that something had to be done because this was a mess from every perspective – but what exactly we were going to do was not so apparent.
You would have thought that with B&R being a SharePoint solutions provider, we would have immediately recommended SharePoint as the answer. But back in those days (and even still today), SharePoint was not known for being a great records management solution. Sure, there are site columns, managed metadata, content types, information management policies, retention policies, records declaration, and the content organizer (to name some of the features). But trying to explain how to configure and properly utilize all of these features to a site owner or business user tasked with records management for their department or group was close to impossible. The features were all over the place – library settings, site settings, site collection settings – and required various levels of access that most organizations did not want to grant. Simply put, SharePoint did not offer the end-to-end records management solution that was intuitive and easy to use; with this in mind we initially looked at alternative solutions.
The features were all over the place and required various levels of access...
As an alternative to SharePoint, we looked at a variety of options including Documentum, FileNet, and other large systems, but the sticker shock we got when we saw not only the licensing but implementation costs (and timelines) always brought us back to SharePoint.
And that’s when Record Center was truly envisioned. When looking at the other systems, we saw the types of features and functionality they had – and we knew most of that was available in SharePoint, but was buried and difficult to implement out of the box. We knew what we had to do – take all of the disparate, but vitally important features of SharePoint that would support a records management initiative and combine them into one unified solution. And so, over the next two years, we built the application from the ground up, squeezing everything we could out of SharePoint while providing a simplified interface that provided records managers with the tools they needed to successfully perform their jobs and end users with the simplest of interfaces that allows them to find exactly what they are looking for without needing more than a few minutes of training.
In the end, Record Center became – and still is – one of the most successful IT projects in the history of our customer. And today, with the latest version of Record Center available for both SharePoint 2013 & 2016, organizations can have an accurate picture of and can easily manage the lifecycle of their records.
We knew we had to take all of the disparate features of SharePoint and combine them into one unified solution.
We know that records management isn’t a glamorous or exciting topic, but it’s a critical component to most organizational strategies for reducing liability, ensuring discoverability, and properly classifying records to meet legal and compliance requirements. Already using SharePoint? Then why implement a separate system that you must manage and maintain – use what you already have and experience a better path forward.