August 3, 2023

Microsoft Purview vs OpenText Content Manager

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The below article provides a comparison of key records compliance features which OpenText Content Manager and Microsoft Purview provide to help in making an informed decision with:

  1. Choosing Content Manager as the back end record compliant system whilst utilising M365 repositories that integrate with CM
  2. Choosing Microsoft Purview as the back end system to manage record compliance across M365 repositories
  3. Choosing Content Manager as both the front end and back end interface (one central system)

What is Microsoft Purview?

Microsoft Purview synchronises with M365 repositories, assisting with eDiscovery and managing them in accordance with regulatory and legislative requirements.

Although End users could be setup to use Purview for the purpose of eDiscovery, this would rarely be used by anyone outside the Records Management/Information Management teams with end users naturally performing searches within repositories where they are capturing information.

This system is better used as a back end interface which consolidates a list of records from various linked repositories to manage.

What is Content Manager?

Content Manager is an Electronic Document Records Management System (EDRMS) used for all aspects of a record lifecycle from capture to disposal.

This is a system that can be used as a back end interface to satisfy record compliance requirements OR be used as a whole package where end users capture and access information day to day.

Retention Schedules Configuration

Microsoft Purview

Retention Labels in Purview are used to configure record categories and associate Retention periods for retaining the type of information. An end user can choose the configured Retention Label when working on a document or highlighting a stored record. Although this sounds good in theory, this creates a heavy reliance on staff to complete an additional step for each record.

There is the ability to reduce the amount of Retention Labels staff see that are not relevant to the type of information they create and receive. This is conducted through the establishment of Retention Label Policies within Microsoft Purview by selecting the repositories where Retention Labels can be applied. For example, ensuring a Compensation Retention Label can only be chosen in repositories used by the Work Health and Safety Team.

Although automation capability for Labels can be implemented through associating default values to selective repositories, most staff will work with a diverse range of different records and therefore there would be a need to establish a monitoring program to avoid consistently requiring to change the label at the point of a disposal review process.

Not having a unique standalone Retention Schedule field could result in organisations incorrectly grouping information to a label and therefore considerations need to be made with what level of categorisation labels are used in order to link to an appropriate retention period. For example, a label named ‘Finance’ with a retention period of seven years would not be sufficient as there is financial based information that would need to be retained less or longer to meet regulatory or legislative obligations.

Although labels can be used to effectively manage the retention of information, consideration and additional effort will need to be given to populating the list of labels due to how records can have various retention periods based on value (dollar amount) and significance (e.g. minor incident report vs serious incident report).

Content Manager

Content Manager has the ability to configure Retention Schedule objects to mirror Retention and Disposal Authorities/Retention Disposal Schedules. Once Retention Schedules are configured, they can be either applied to a Business Classification Scheme to automate any records associated to a classification or be manually applied separately where needed.

Unlike Purview which is more so focused on applying Retention at the document level, Content Manager is usually configured (by choice) to have Retention Schedules applied at the Folder level.

The above method is effective when Folders are structured well, and documents are saved into a corresponding Folder that suits its purpose (e.g., Notes from meeting are saved into a Folder for Meetings).

If documents are bucketed into Folders with a mixture of other non-relating information, the method of applying the Retention Schedule at the Folder Level is no longer effective.

Although Microsoft Purview can effectively be used to label and apply retention at the document level, it does not encourage processes for staff to structure information by its purpose which could lead to day to day navigating or searching issues.

Business Classification Scheme

Microsoft Purview

Configuring a Business Classification Scheme is not functionality that is directly available within Microsoft Purview due to the architecture setup where labels and File Plans are used at a more granular level to categorise records.

Content Manager

Classification objects exist and can be used to mirror an established Business Classification Scheme. Classifications within CM also allow the automation of retention to information through the association of Retention Schedule objects.

Disposal Workflow Configuration

Microsoft Purview

A disposal review workflow process is an option when configuring each label. The Disposal workflow must be manually specified for each label, creating repetition and additional time to the Label configuration process if there is a consistent review process conducted for disposals.

Content Manager

Workflow processes are not inbuilt into each Retention Schedule object and are instead configured separately. Content Manager can have disposal workflows setup using Workflows, Actions/Procedures or third party integrations/connectors, such as the use of Power Automate with Content Manager.

Additionally, a separate obtainable Content Manager Advanced Processing Module which offers the ability to create consignments with inbuilt workflow notifications within the process.

Disposal Review

Microsoft Purview

During the disposal review process, the individual documents associated with the Retention Schedule label will be displayed.

When selecting a record during the review process, a preview of the record contents will be displayed and there will be the ability for the reviewer to determine the next step based on buttons made available, such as providing approval.

Unfortunately, the disposition review pane does not display all of the original metadata associated to record. This can result in the reviewer manually navigating to the records within the relevant repository to verify if the metadata is accurate before making a decision.

Content Manager

During the review process within Content Manager, the relevant staff will have the ability to view all associated metadata and view the contents of the information to determine the next steps of placing the record into a hold to retain longer (similar to Purview’s extending feature), dispose, and reclassify.

Depending where the information originated from, third party connections to Content Manager do have the ability to carry across custom metadata associated to the record during the capture process to avoid the need to review the original repository for any further details.

Disposing Records

Microsoft Purview

A disposition section within Purview identifies records that are ready for disposal based on meeting the requirements of the associated label and any records which have already been disposed. This information displayed in the Disposition tab is gathered from the information in the unified audit log.

In the event of an authorised destruction, the corresponding repository (e.g. SharePoint Library) will not leave a reference/stub/shell of the record when it is disposed. This results in only a select number of staff having oversight to historical information to assist on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests/ Right to Information (RTI) requests.

The information about the disposition is kept for up to seven years after the item was disposed within Purview. As most organisations will want to retain a reference to what has been disposed for the life of the organisation to assist with any future audits or requests, consideration would need to be given to creating an additional process to backup this information prior to Purview automatically removing it.

Content Manager

Searching within Content Manager can be performed to focus on records which have been disposed or records ready for disposal (determined by meeting the requirements of the associated Retention Schedules). Saved Searches (custom buttons) can be setup to make it more effective to navigate to this information for carrying out disposal processes.

When a record is disposed in Content Manager, a shell/stub will remain to ensure there is a historical reference of once having the record. Content Manager will retain the stub of disposed records with all associated metadata for the life of the system and the metadata of disposed records can easily be exported.

Information Security Markings

Microsoft Purview

Sensitivity Labels can be used to configure Information Security Markings. These Labels can be applied manually during the process of creating documents using the Microsoft Office Suite or alternatively sensitivity labels can be setup to be applied automatically.

There is also the additional ability to use the configured sensitivity labels as ‘watermarks’ within documents which effectively puts the marking value you have chosen into the contents of the document (e.g. the Header). This would otherwise be manual to achieve through the setup of templates with pre-determined markings added in or by using a third party solution to automate this.

Content Manager

Content Manager can utilise Information Security Markings as Additional (custom) fields which can be applied to records and searched upon. In order for Content Manager to automate markings effectively, a third party event add in or solution is required.

Security Levels or Caveats are the components Content Manager suggests to use for this purpose. However, it is not recommended due to how these security components restrict access rather than identify the value of records. In reality the method of restriction should occur separately from identifying the value to ensure the right staff have access to the right information.

Here's some key points to consider when comparing Microsoft Purview to Content Manager

Product Comparison Microsoft Purview Content Manager
Retain metadata of disposed records for the life of the system ✔️
View all associated metadata during a disposal review ✔️
Assign workflow to each retention schedule ✔️
Track the physical movement and disposal of hardcopy records ✔️
End User Interface ✔️
Establish and automate Information Security Markings ✔️
Third-party solutions required
Manage records within Outlook ✔️
Relies on end users to capture

When considering adopting a new records management platform, it's essential to conduct due diligence to understand the pros and cons of each solution. Both Microsoft Purview and Content Manager offer records compliant features to meet regulatory requirements, but they differ in key aspects. By carefully assessing these differences, organisations can choose a platform that meets their needs without causing disruptions or issues now and into the future of their information management.

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