An Intro to Records Management
An Intro to Records Management

This course explores records management and retention, starting with a quick intro to what Records Management is and why it’s used. We’ll then take a look at a few common use cases and you’ll learn how to use retention labels to declare records.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this short course, you should have a good understanding of Records Management in Microsoft 365 and how to use retention labels to declare records.

Intended Audience

This quick-hitting course is intended for those who wish to learn about Records Management in Microsoft 365.


To get the most out of this course, you should have a basic understanding of Microsoft 365.


Welcome to Records Management.

To ensure that it can maintain effective management of regulatory, legal, and business-critical records, an organization needs to utilize a solid records management system. The records management tools provided in Microsoft 365 are intended to meet this need. 

The records management tools that are available in Microsoft 365 allow you to label content as a record, they allow you to manage retention plans with file plan manager, and they allow you to create retention and deletion policies within record labels. Those same records management tools also allow you to trigger event-based retention and to review and validate disposition, which means you can review documents before they are permanently deleted.

Records management in Microsoft 365 provides proof of records disposition and it allows you to export information about deleted items. You can even use it to set permissions for record manager functions within your organization.

So, now that you have some background on records management, let’s walk through what happens when content is labeled as a record. 

Once a piece of content is labeled as a record, certain restrictions go into effect. These restrictions block certain activities. Activities that DO occur with the content are then logged. The proof of disposition that I mentioned earlier is retained at the end of the retention period.

Before you can mark documents or content as records, you have to create retention labels. 

Using the retention labels that you create, you can mark documents and emails as records, based on those retention labels. 

Speaking of records, you can mark documents as two different types of records. You can mark them simply as records, or you can mark them as regulatory records. The difference here is that when you mark a document as regulatory record, additional controls and restrictions become available. For example, when a specific document gets marked as a regulatory record, the regulatory label that’s used to do it cannot be removed – even by a Global Admin. I should also mention that the retention periods for such a document cannot be shortened once the regulatory label has been applied to it.

Because of the irreversible nature of some actions that occur when you mark a document as a regulatory record, Microsoft recommends that you only mark documents as regulatory records if it is absolutely necessary. As a matter of fact, Microsoft makes you use PowerShell to enable the regulatory record option. This should be the first indication that they really don’t want you messing with it unless you really, really have to.

Before we wrap this lesson up, let’s take a quick look at some of the more common use cases for records management in Microsoft 365.

Admins and users alike can use records management to manually apply retention actions and deletion actions for documents and emails.

Records management can also be used to AUTOMATICALLY apply retention and deletion actions to documents and emails as well.

Site admins can use records management to set default retain and delete actions for all content in SharePoint libraries, folders, and document sets.

And then lastly, records management can be used to allow your end users to automatically apply retain actions and delete actions to emails right from within Outlook, using Outlook rules.


So, the key takeaway here is that records management tools in Microsoft 365, like retention policies and retention labels, allow organizations to maintain effective management of regulatory, legal, and business-critical records.

About the Author
Learning Paths

Tom is a 25+ year veteran of the IT industry, having worked in environments as large as 40k seats and as small as 50 seats. Throughout the course of a long an interesting career, he has built an in-depth skillset that spans numerous IT disciplines. Tom has designed and architected small, large, and global IT solutions.

In addition to the Cloud Platform and Infrastructure MCSE certification, Tom also carries several other Microsoft certifications. His ability to see things from a strategic perspective allows Tom to architect solutions that closely align with business needs.

In his spare time, Tom enjoys camping, fishing, and playing poker.