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M365 Records Management Guidance

Microsoft 365 Records Management Guidance

This is a very general records management guide for M365 products. It explains the basic functions of M365 applications in common use in the State of Indiana and offers records management tips for each product. It is designed for use by any State of Indiana worker who creates public records in the course of their job while using M365 products. Public records are defined as any recorded information, regardless of format, that is evidence of government activities. It is also meant for M365 Administrators and Records Coordinators. Questions about how to manage your records in M365? Reach out to the Electronic Records Program at


Microsoft Forms is an information gathering and visualization tool which works with Excel. Data can be viewed in the Forms application or downloaded via an Excel spreadsheet. Because Microsoft Forms data is user account dependent, it is highly recommended that users do not rely on it for official, State data collection. For all other uses IARA recommends that:

  • Users make plans for retaining any information that must be kept over a period of time.
  • Users ensure that Microsoft Forms posted online for any length of time remain usable.
  • Users ensure that any data which their agency needs to continue business is accessible to multiple employees in that agency.

OneDrive for Business

OneDrive for Business is a Cloud-based file storage and sharing platform. It can be used for temporary retention and storage of records but is not a suitable long-term records management solution. It allows State workers to share files across State agencies, can be accessed from any location that has an internet connection, and integrates with the Microsoft Office product suite including Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Unlike SharePoint, OneDrive for Business is for individual work, and management of files is the responsibility of the individual. It is highly recommended that users:

  • Regularly clean their OneDrive for Business of unused files
  • Name files in accordance with the IARA Electronic Records Guidelines.
  • Work with their Agency’s Records Coordinator to ensure any permanent records are regularly transferred to IARA in accordance with OCPR retention schedules.
  • Follow the IOT Internet Resource and Use Agreement
  • Avoid using OneDrive for Business as a storage location for personal files like recipes, personal photographs, or personal medical information.


OneNote is an information organization and sharing platform for notes, multi-media content, and web content. When used in conjunction with touchscreen Windows devices, OneNote can record handwritten notes. OneNote maintains a limited number of automatic backups so if you accidentally delete content you may be able to recover it. Notebooks are stored in OneDrive for Business and can be exported in a Zip file format.

  • If you believe your OneNote notebook is a permanent record and must be transferred to IARA, please contact IARA’s Electronic Records division,
  • If you believe your OneNote notebook is a record that must be retained by your agency for a set period of time according to relevant OCPR retention schedules, ensure any policies applied to your OneDrive for Business OneNote storage folder are in accordance with these retention schedules


Outlook is an application that manages email, a user’s address book, calendars, and tasks. It can be used for temporary retention and storage of records but is not a suitable permanent records management solution. Depending on their contents, emails may or may not be records and it is up to the user to make this determination based on the relevant Oversight Committee on Public Records retention schedules. IARA highly recommends that users take advantage of the variety of tools Microsoft offers to help manage emails including:

  • Rules – common keywords or senders can be automatically routed to a separate location.
  • Archiving – using Rules, certain messages can be automatically sent to the users Archive folder.
  • Tags – if retention policies are in place for a mailbox, users can tag email with instructions for retention and disposition to help automate retention processes.

It is also vital to regularly clean your Outlook folder to help manage the sheer volume of communication. For more information on managing records in Outlook, please see our resources on email management.


Planner is a collaborative project management tool which works with Microsoft Groups, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint. It was introduced in 2016 and relies on Kanban project management methods. There is no way to archive, download, or even print a plan. For this reason, if you believe your plan may be considered a permanent record, IARA advises against the use of Planner. Files associated with Planner can be found in the associated SharePoint document library. IARA recommends users ensure that these files are properly retained prior to deleting a plan.


SharePoint is a Cloud-based storage, collaboration, and document management platform. It can be used for temporary retention and storage of records but is not a suitable permanent records management solution. It is suitable for active projects and collaboration, and may be suitable for records that are scheduled to be retained more than 15 years, but are not permanent. It is highly recommended that upon the creation of a SharePoint site:

  • Users are given clear roles.
  • Records are clearly designated.
  • Retention policies are applied according to OCPR retention schedules.
  • A plan is in place for the transfer of permanent records to IARA when appropriate.


Yammer is a social networking platform for group communication, collaboration, and information sharing. There are two types of potential records in Yammer – files and Yammer conversations. Files are either stored in Yammer cloud storage or in SharePoint and can be accessed from Yammer itself. Files can be downloaded individually directly from Yammer by any Yammer user. Yammer conversations can be exported only by a Yammer administrator.

  • IARA advises that users be aware of any Yammer files and/or conversations that may qualify as records under OCPR retention schedules.
  • IARA advises users take precautions to ensure any files and conversations that are records are saved in a common file format (see the IARA Electronic Records Guidelines), in a secure, backed up location, and that any permanent records are transferred to IARA on a regular basis in accordance with relevant OCPR retention schedules.


Teams is a virtual meeting space for Microsoft Group communication, collaboration, and information sharing that integrates with SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, and M365 Groups among other M365 applications. Because Teams is a fast paced, multi-faceted environment it is crucial that users understand the records management implications of content shared and created in Teams. IARA recommends taking a content and lifecycle-based approach to records management in Teams. Teams requires a little more planning when it comes to good records management, so we have created a guide called Teams Types. Learn more here.

  • Teams integrates with SharePoint and OneDrive for Business, meaning content can be shared both internally and externally, viewed and edited by Teams members in Teams, with all content ultimately saved to either SharePoint or OneDrive for Business. Content in Teams, therefore, may be governed by SharePoint and/or OneDrive for Business retention policies. It is crucial that users be aware of this fact and the implications it may have for records that fall under Oversight Committee on Public Records approved retention schedules.
  • Teams also offers a chat client as well as a collaborative discussion space within each Channel called a conversation. It is important that Teams users fully understand when chats and conversations are a record and act accordingly. Please note that Teams chat logs are stored in a users Outlook mailbox, but are not accessible by the user.
  • In addition to chat/conversations, users can share files, make a phone call, leave voicemail, share their screen, add other users to Team, record meetings, and video conference.
  • Within chats and conversations, users can also add GIFs and editable stickers and react to a chat or conversation comment with a variety of emojis which may become part of the public record.
  • Teams meetings/video conferences provide a transcript, translation services, and saved copy of the video.

All of these elements foster collaboration and also create increasingly complex records. IARA recommends that users familiarize themselves with the features of Teams, how they might affect any record keeping requirements, and ensure that videoconferences observe committee rules and regulations.