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Hello everyone and a happy new year to all! Today’s topic is another Records Management basic: holds.

Holds are a very common process for Records Managers, and contrary to the picture above, in the world of Records Management, it will not get you a 10 yard penalty. That is, unless you aren’t performing them correctly, in which case, your penalty could be much much more!

As we discussed in an earlier post, Retention is the process that important documents or records should be held for a specific amount of time and then subsequently destroyed. But if a lawsuit or investigation requires ongoing access to documents that are nearing the end of their retention period, you will need a way to pick out the documents that are important to the case, and suspend their disposition process until the case is over. This process is called placing the item on hold.

While this concept may seem somewhat trivial in theory, in reality it is a crucial component of Records Management, and a requirement of DoD 5015.2 compliance for any records management system. In a nutshell, companies need to be able to defend their records management processes, and if documents or records pertinent to the case “slip through the cracks,” then additional fines or other litigious punishments may be issued. In fact, it is possible that a judge may rule that the removal of the documents was intentional instead of accidental, and act accordingly. Better get those holds straight!

To place items on hold in SharePoint 2010, you first have to activate the “Hold and eDiscovery” feature at the site level.

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This will enable the “Hold and eDiscovery” section in Site Settings.

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Click on “Holds” to create a new Hold.

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Once the hold has been created, it will now be available to be placed on documents in the site through the “Compliance Details” menu item.

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Under Holds, click on “Add/Remove from Hold.” This will allow you to place one or more holds on the document.

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As long as at least one hold is placed on a document, it will not be able to be destroyed either by normal retention processes or by user intervention.

After items have been placed on hold, additional courses of action are available.By clicking on the hold name in the Holds list in Site Settings, a records manager can run a Hold Report, which outputs an Excel spreadsheet containing information about all the documents placed under that hold. Also, once the investigation has been completed, there is a link that says “Release all items from hold” in order to release all items with a single click.

The example we have covered here illustrates how items can be put on hold one-by-one. In most cases, an eDiscovery process will be used to search for documents based on criteria and place them all on hold at the same time. Item-level holds are used mostly in one-off cases where eDiscovery is not necessary, or did not properly discover the document in the process. We will discuss eDiscovery and how it works in SharePoint in a future post.