In-place vs centralized records management with Microsoft Records Management

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Microsoft SharePoint Online Records Management enables you to manage records where they are created integrated with record labels and label policies, or you can create dedicated records management collections that manage records from across the business. Many customers struggle to determine the best approach, and I have below outlined when you should go for in-place vs centralized records management with Microsoft SharePoint online records management.

Microsoft SharePoint online records management

Microsoft Information Governance

In-place Records Management

The transition from on-premise silos to cloud platforms like Microsoft 365 (M365) allows you to improve the connection of people, information, and knowledge. If work happens in M365 with Teams, Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive, then records can be captured and managed in-place using record labels and label policies. Benefits include:

  • Access – records are available in-context where work happens

  • Cost – reduced cost per custodian due to less administration

  • Speed – records are declared at the right time

  • Automation – records management can be automated

  • Compliance – records are not moved or transferred impacting the integrity of the records

When to implement in-place records management:

  • Information and records are required in-context and integrated with the business process throughout their lifecycle e.g. plans, drawings, reports

  • SharePoint site collections with long term lifecycle used to manage long-running and continuous processes. e.g. Human resources, Finance operations, Asset management, etc.

  • Hybrid scenarios where records are required to be together with related documents to enable simplified access for the end-users, and then moved to dedicated collections. E.g. Capital engineering projects, Legal matters, etc.

  • Organization where record management roles have transitioned to manage compliance across ALL information instead of demonstrating records compliance


  • Users need to have access to the sites where the records are stored to be able to find and access the records. Ensure therefore that site access is set up correctly

  • Compliance admins use M365 Content Search to find all records across the tenant and across all access groups

  • SharePoint Online Records Management now fully supports a seamless movement of records across site collections without impacting the integrity of records. This enables organizations to have a flexible approach in making informed decisions regards to storage locations for records

  • Where records are managed with other information, create SharePoint views for your users or record managers to easily access records

Centralized Records Management

For physical records, we often centralize records management, and many organizations are still trying to use paper-principles to manage records in the digital age (see blog post 7 steps to modernize your records management for the digital era). It still makes sense to centralize the management of some records, e.g. agreements, contracts, standard operating procedures. This is done in M365 by setting up dedicated records management sites with record labels and label policies. Benefits include:

  • Access – once place for users to find all relevant records

  • Compliance – better central control of the dedicated sites

When to implement centralized records management:

  • The business wants a one-stop-shop for relevant records

  • Legacy records are migrated to M365 SharePoint online records management

  • Processes/activities where records will have to be kept for longer than the lifecycle of the parent process

  • Organizations in a specific regulated industry/geography where it is essential to physically separate regulatory records from the rest of the information


  • Centralized records management requires users or software to move records from where they are created or received, to the central location. For Microsoft Records Management, this can be automated using PowerAutomate or LogicApps.


Most of our clients end up with a combination of in-place and centralized records management with Microsoft SharePoint online Records Management. Your SharePoint architecture is a key step in determining effective governance for your records and prevent re-structuring activities to accommodate records management. Feel free to contact us if you need help determining the best approach for your organization.

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