In 2018 Ulster University recognised that while much progress had been made towards adoption of digital working, many files were still frequently being processed physically. This was especially the case for records, where the University maintains thousands of files spanning decades.
The University launched a Digitisation Project, which aimed to move to a paper-lite environment by introducing a digital first approach for processes. This initiative aims to reduce the volume of paper records held by at least 85%. The introduction of a digital records management solution was identified as a key component that would help the University meet this objective. One of the key challenges that the University faced was how best to translate its existing file plan and retention schedule, which had been defined primarily with physical files in mind, so that it could be applied to a digital records management solution.
Solution Strategy – Microsoft Purview Configuration
Having already selected Microsoft 365 for collaboration and storage, the University’s records management team decided that the platform’s retention capabilities would provide them with the best approach for managing digital records. Recognising the specialism of configuring Microsoft Purview, Ulster University selected Intelogy as its partner to oversee the design and
implementation of its records management hub.
With a dedicated Knowledge & Information Management practice, Intelogy’s team is at the very forefront of records management in Microsoft 365. Shaping the engagement, a series of workshops helped to identify the University’s understanding of Microsoft Purview’s capabilities and provide skills transfer where needed. This process empowered the University to make informed decisions about the nature of its future records management solution. One of the key challenges was translating Ulster University’s existing file plan and retention schedule into an architecture that would best meet its needs. By evaluating the file plan in detail, our team defined a detailed model for retention labels, including how they are triggered, their duration and whether they result in disposition review or automated deletion.
It was especially important to the University that many of the retention periods only began at the end of the academic, financial and calendar years. In order to realise this, Intelogy made extensive use of Microsoft’s ‘event-based’ retention labels. This approach necessitated the seeding of default date metadata across content, removing the need for manual classification. The result of this approach has allowed the University to automatically trigger the start of retention for thousands of files in accordance with its retention schedule.
Ulster University also required certain retention periods to be triggered when individual files are superseded. Having evaluated the different approaches that would allow us to achieve this, it was determined that the most appropriate option was to have two separate retention labels in these scenarios. A ‘permanent’ default label could then be exchanged for a retention label with a much shorter duration when the item is superseded. As this step is manual, Intelogy made sure that the name given to each retention label was as intuitive as possible, to avoid confusion or potential error.To implement the architecture, our team created PowerShell scripts that created a SharePoint Hub, containing a series of separate sites. Each site contained multiple libraries, with default metadata and retention labels applied.
With Intelogy’s guidance Ulster University was able to successfully make use of the retention capabilities provided in Microsoft 365, by using them to craft a records management solution that fully supports the retention schedule. The University has now successfully launched its tailored records management hub, which is quickly becoming a central repository for all of its digital retention.
Attention has now switched to the scanning and migration of decades of records into the new hub. Once complete, the University will be well on its way to meeting its objective of moving to a paper-lite operating model.
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