The legal department at a Seattle non-profit corporation needed a way to manage their digital records, subject to legal holds and destruction, in compliance with records management mandates.
Users in each department had to search for the term “archive,” or scan through folder and file names, to manually decide if documents were records and required destruction. The potential for overlooking documents, especially those that may not have been correctly archived, was high. This left our client at increased legal risk. Attempting to mitigate this risk using their current environment was costing them large amounts of time.
Plaster Group’s Enterprise Software team was asked to develop a system and processes to ensure business records were retained for historical purposes, and deleted once the retention period was over, in compliance with records management protocols. Third party products did not allow for the functionality required and organization requirements prevented the use of out-of-the-box SharePoint. The solution would need to be custom built.
Plaster Group worked closely with our client’s legal department to understand the details behind their records management needs. Our client would need an overarching policy across their entire SharePoint farm.
Plaster Group consultants worked with our client’s IT and risk departments to design custom systems and processes for labeling and monitoring “legal holds” and retention dates and delivering automatic notifications to the legal department when records were scheduled for destruction.
Custom actions, layouts, and jobs were implemented to give an enterprise-level view of the data to be managed. System-wide commands allow our client to place and release legal holds on documents. In addition:
- A document definition component was created to identify specific document types
- Compliance workflow puts structure around managing digital elements
- Tasks are assigned to individuals in a series with flexible notifications
- A custom “legal hold” attribute allows read-only access to files
- Automated records review ensures the correct documents are slated for destruction, reducing human error
- Custom task-execution engine runs nightly to generate reports, destroy documents, or place legal holds
The implementation of this workflow solution has had positive impact across our client’s entire organization. The new technology and processes have reduced liability by ensuring legal records are managed according to records management policy. In addition, the solution:
- Allows end-users to be in compliance easily as files don’t need to be managed manually
- Separates Legal Hold workflows from Records Management Compliance workflows, allowing for precise management of records that have met their retention requirements and the ability to retain items that are still needed for legal hold purposes
- Provides physical proof for auditors, reports of everyone accepting the task, and required legal wording incorporated directly into workflow
- Is built entirely within SharePoint, preventing the need to buy a third party solution and saving money