Records Management in SharePoint Online – Disposition Reviews

Atle Skjekkeland


Updated: Sep 6, 2020


What should happen to records at the end of the retention schedule? For records Management with Office 365, you have 3 out-of-the-box options: Automatic Deletion, Disposition Review, or Do Nothing. This can also be customized to meet other requirements, e.g. transfer to archive.

Records management with SharePoint Online

Triggering a disposition review at the end of the retention period is a configuration option that’s available only with a retention label and record label, not as a retention policy.

Records management with SharePoint Online - disposition review

A disposition review can include content in Exchange mailboxes, SharePoint sites, OneDrive accounts, and Microsoft 365 groups. Content awaiting a disposition review in those locations is deleted only after a disposition reviewer chooses to permanently delete the content.


When a reviewer is notified by email that content is ready to review, they go to the Disposition tab from Records Management in the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center. The reviewers can see how many items for each retention label are awaiting disposition, and then select a retention label to see all content with that label. If the disposition review has to be done by the business, then the reviewer can use the label name or record location to identify the right business to do the review. The disposition reviewer can export information about the items in either view as a .csv file that they can then sort and manage using Excel for easier review.


Our global clients have found that the above functionality meets their requirements for disposition reviews, but we still strongly recommend that you DO NOT implement disposition reviews. This is not due to any limitations for doing records management with SharePoint Online, – we recommend the same whatever IT solution you use. Two reasons:


Time and resources – A manual review may make sense for Iron Mountain boxes, but not individual records. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How long will a disposition review take per record? This is the time it takes for the Compliance Admin to open the Disposition tab in the Compliance Center, create and share a disposition review report to the relevant businesses, remind the business to do it if they don´t all respond, but also for the business to do the disposition review and report back, and for Compliance Admin to then take action based on the review by the business? Will this in total take 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or more than 1 hour per record?

  • How many records will you have in 10 years requiring disposition reviews? We are experiencing a growing volume, variety, and velocity of information, and this will also impact the number of records that you have to manage. If you have 10 million records today, will this be 30 million records in 10 years?

  • What will this require of resources? If each disposition review takes 15 minutes, then this means 4 disposition reviews per hour, and 32 disposition reviews per day if one person was doing it all. If you have 1 million records, then this means 1 million / 32 disposition reviews per day = 31,250 days spent on disposition reviews… If you have10 million records, then this means 10 million / 32 = 312,500 days spent on disposition reviews…


Difficult decision making – How easy will it be for staff in 5, 10, or 30 years from now on to do an education disposition review? Our experience is that this often ends up as a lot of discussions if records may be deleted or not at the end of retention, but the result often being “lets extend the retention” since it is difficult to make a decision.


Our recommendation is therefore to modernize your records management for the digital age. Remove disposition review as an option. Records are either deleted automatically at the end of the retention, or stored permanently. If you want to learn more about modernizing your records management for the digital era, then check out this previous blog post.

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