SharePoint Retention Policies

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I am interested in knowing how many organizations are using SharePoint’s retention policy capabilities, and what is working well or not so well.

I’ve used them quite extensively. If your retention policies are based on a date column, they are very easy to implement and use.

The implementation complexity begins to rise as your retention logic becomes more complex. For example, I have a project where records tagged with a project ID is used to determine retention. The project data stores the date when the project was closed, so that date isn’t directly available as a metadata column on the record. The retention rule was to move the record to the recycle bin 7 years after the project end date. This required some custom code.

The disposition logic is much more flexible as you delete records, move records to the recycle bin and even execute workflows.

If you have more specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Microsoft SharePoint MVP (2006-2010)

Hey Robert and Warren,
I’m interested in knowing how SharePoint Online meets records management requirements such as Records Classifications, Retention Schedule, Dispositions, Records Litigation Hold Process, etc. Is it possible to do all of that and more with SharePoint out of the box?

I think it depends upon what Microsoft license you have. We recently tested the E3 license and found that the data deletion policy overrides any retention policies you have implemented. For example, we set a data deletion policy of 7 days based on last modified date and tested to validate that all content that was not declared a record using InPlace RM or on Legal Hold would be deleted. Our test results validated that the data deletion policy did work; however it overrode the Information Management policy of all documents that had been declared records and deleted them as well. We also confirmed that their is no legal hold process for specific content and the only work around is to make the entire URL exempt.

We are meeting with Microsoft next week to further validate this test, but I would be curious to know if anyone else has tested this process.

General Mills

Can you clarify your response a bit? You stated “there is no legal hold for specific content”. Do you have to place a hold by user? To not be able to place a specific hold seems like it would defeat the purpose of a hold.

Hi, I am still researching. It’s my understanding that you can only place content locations on hold.

General Mills

You can avoid this issue by having a Records Center site collection and moving content to that logical location as soon as it meets 1 of your retention criteria.
Alternatively, for MUCH greater control, you can acquire and implement one of the 3rd party RM solutions such as Gimmal, Collabware, AvePoint, RecordPoint, etc.


Exactly right, Lorne. Of course, you’d expect me to say that as an employee of one of the 3rd-party alternatives you list! 🙂

Even using a Records Center to manage records, in the manner you describe, is an involved and laborious process without 3rd-party assistance.

Paraphrasing some of my more annoying college professors, “SharePoint provides all of the API’s and low-level primitives you need to address operational records-management issues, but actually implementing and using them in production is left as an exercise to the Records Manager.”

That’s even more true for in-place declared records outside of records centers. Go down that path, and you’ll find yourself with some very frustrated end users AND records managers.

Throw eDiscovery and Legal Holds into the mix and it’s easy to understand why Records Managers have a heavy workload.

Microsoft is a great platform company. In this area, they’ve delivered a rich assortment of powerful tools. But not a solution. If you want a complete, implementable and supportable solution, you’ll need 3rd-party help.

Gartner’s been updating their research in the area of federated rules-based records management. They’re covering all of the companies you mention as well as others. I’m happy to discuss the specifics of RecordPoint’s solution if you’re interested, but I’m a vendor. Gartner will give you a more independent perspective.
RecordPoint Software

Sorry this may be a delayed response.

Looks like the IM overriding issue is about “scope”. Would be curious what happened to your meeting with Microsoft and provide us an update.

If scope is indeed the issue, it looks like only 1 policy can be applied to a document library to avoid overrides. Or the IM policy should have a workflow condition added to handle non-records (instead of having 2 separate policies) not only for records. As for legal holds, I guess there should be a procedure how to handle documents or records identified for legal holds either to have them “moved” from their existing doc library to a Legal Hold library or change user permission to Read access on the libraries where they are located.

I have implemented SharePoint retention while I was still in corporate using SharePoint on-premise and it worked wonders. I am now in consulting and I have implemented 3 Electronic Document Management Solution (using SharePoint Online) and retention policy works wonders.

My approach is that I create an extra site collection which is a Records Management site collection and ensure the content types in the main EDMS are replicated in my ERMS, then I set the policies on libraries and tell it to move the document to ERMS but leave a stub in the EDMS. The client never knows they are looking at the ERMS.

I am sure you got this sorted since this was last year’s question, but better late than never.



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