For a leading Australian Not-For-Profit Organisation, the need for improved records management, particularly around the retention and discovery of emails, was highlighted by the need to respond to the findings of a 2017 Royal Commission. The NPO achieved this objective using a records management solution based on Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online. This customer success story reveals their journey to effective records management and identifies the critical factors for their ultimate success.


Intuitive records management required

The NPO delivers extensive services across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory in the areas of aged care, retirement and independent living, disability, chaplaincy and community services. The Royal Commission identified that the NPO required a better means for managing their documentation, including Outlook emails that were critical records for the organisation.

The institution attempted to use the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) component of a well-regarded Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software suite. While the ECM system had relevant records management capabilities, it needed to be more intuitive for non-records managers.

A key improvement area was the need to integrate the ECM system with Microsoft 365. End-users found saving a Word document to the ECM store challenging and almost impossible to keep emails as records. Rather than rely on the ECM system, some users were saving emails to private folders in Outlook Exchange. Others were retrieving emails using the Quest Email Archiving software implemented to impose quotas on the Exchange space.


The search for a new solution

The IT arm of the NPO looked for a new solution to utilise Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online. In addition to the document and records management functionality of SharePoint Online, the appeal of Microsoft 365 was that it was cloud-based and widely used, with many organisations offering implementation and support services. The availability of this support was an important consideration, as Microsoft 365 and SharePoint were new platforms for their small IT team.

The Head of Information Technology & Systems recalls: “Looking back over our records management project, a major challenge was our knowledge of SharePoint – more specifically, learning about how SharePoint can be used to create a document and records management solution that is popular with end-users.”

He notes that many SharePoint consultants think that because SharePoint Online is web-based, the user interface to solutions based on SharePoint Online should be in the web browser.


Working in the familiar Microsoft 365 environment

“A key success factor for our records management project was finding a way to allow our end-users to work in the familiar environment of Microsoft 365 on their Windows desktops while at the same time storing the documents and emails as records in the web-based environment of SharePoint Online”, recalls the NPO’s Head of IT.

The NPO’s IT arm evaluated several software add-ins that enable the use of SharePoint Online from Microsoft Outlook and other Microsoft applications. In the end, they chose MacroView DMF.

Their Records Manager said: “The user experience MacroView DMF provides is the best available in the SharePoint add-on market and superior to that provided by traditional (i.e. non-SharePoint) records management solutions.”

The reasons why the NPO decided on MacroView DMF are:


  1. Familiar tree-view
    MacroView automatically discovers and displays a complete and accurate tree-view of the structure of the SharePoint Online document store. “It makes working with SharePoint feel as familiar as working with a tree of folders in Windows File Manager.”
  2. Works in other well-known desktop applications
    In addition to Microsoft Outlook, MacroView DMF provides a consistent user experience in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat, and Windows. “The availability of MacroView DMF Explorer is an attractive feature for those users who like working in Windows File Explorer.”
  3. Ease of use
    To save an email to a private Outlook folder, you drag and drop it to the left pane of the Outlook Mail window; to save the email to SharePoint, you drag and drop the email to the MacroView pane on the right of the same window. “The drag and drop saving, previews, right-click menus and Windows forms displayed by MacroView are familiar to any Windows desktop user.”


Designing the SharePoint Online store

Another key success factor for the new records management solution is the design of the SharePoint Online store for the documents and emails that have been declared as records. The design involves the capture of classificatory metadata as each document is saved, with the metadata being managed conveniently and effectively as closed, hierarchical term sets in the central SharePoint Online Term Store.

The design also features standard document libraries within a tree of sites and sub-sites. This design allows the NPO to retain a high degree of control while simultaneously providing a familiar experience and avoiding issues such as excessively long URLs and exceeding the list view threshold.

The NPO notes that MacroView DMF facilitates their design in a way that using the out-of-the-box SharePoint web browser UI could not. “If you are working with the out-of-the-box SharePoint web browser UI, the only real tree you can use is a tree of folders in a big document library. With MacroView, the tree can comprise sites, sub-sites and document libraries, which is better for control and volume handling.”

The NPO even implemented personal sites using OneDrive for Business, which display in the MacroView DMF tree alongside the SharePoint Online structure that stores records for the organisation.