Some time ago, I wrote a series of blog posts on disposition reviews.  I covered the standard disposition reviews and the multi-stage disposition review.  In records management, disposition reviews allow content SMEs, owners, and\or record managers to review content to ensure it is no longer viable before it is ultimately destroyed.  Recently, Microsoft released an update to Microsoft Purview that allows an organization to create Power Automate disposition reviews.  This means that when a document reaches the completion of its retention schedule, instead of a standard disposition review being initiated, a Power Automate flow is started instead.  This vastly increases the options available to record managers or administrators in handling their content.

Why Power Automate Helps

Standard disposition reviews allow you to assign specific users (or groups of users) to a review of your content before it is disposed of.  This is usually to the organization’s record management team (or disposition team if you have one).  A common process with standard disposition reviews includes

  • The reviewing team must then analyze the documents marked for disposition
  • Determine the content owners and\or subject matter experts (SMEs)
  • Supply these contacts with the documents flagged for disposition
  • Send reminders and alerts as required (manually)
  • Dispose of the content themselves (through the disposition console of M365)

Multi-stage disposition takes things a bit further in that multiple approvers can be identified and assigned to disposition reviews.  For example, a specific label can have the disposition of the content reviewed by a SME.  Once the SME has approved, the content can then be reviewed by the necessary owner(s).  Once the content reviews are complete, the disposition review can then be assigned to the record manager, who will be more knowledgeable of the content-disposition rules from an organizational standpoint, such as regulatory or legal requirements.  This takes some of the manual processes away from the record managers that standard disposition reviews require.  However, it does pose a problem for many organizations.  This problem comes with the very nature of retention labels in Microsoft 365.

When creating your file plan in M365, you want to keep it as broad as you can.  Instead of having a retention label for HR Meeting Notes, Finance Meeting Notes, IT Meeting Notes, etc. you would want to create a single Meeting Notes label and assign the schedule and disposition process as required.  With a standard disposition review, this is fine because the record manager can determine who the approver (s) need to be and take the necessary action.  But as indicated above, it’s a manual activity.  A multi-stage disposition review may seem to help in this situation, but in fact can cause issues.  Many organizations have internal requirements that prohibit users from reviewing the content of departments outside of their own.  In other words, if IT, HR, and Finance all have different disposition approvers, a multi-stage disposition review can allow a reviewer access to the content they should not have.  This is where Power Automate disposition reviews come in.

Power Automate Disposition Reviews

A Power Automate disposition review allows for complex customization to occur.  Logic can be added to the process to ensure the correct users are being notified of the disposition review and that those lacking the necessary access are not notified (my next blog post will cover this).  The Power Automate flow can also add extra steps that are not part of the built-in disposition reviews within Microsoft 365.  Perhaps the organization has a requirement to move the data to a more permanent, cheaper storage location (Azure Tiered Storage) after the retention schedule is complete.  Many government agencies have a centralized archive control that certain documents must be sent to for further retention.  The flow can transfer the data to this centralized agency as part of the customized process.  A built-in disposition review is not capable of this.

Power Automate Disposition Review Limitations

There are a few limitations to be aware of with Power Automate disposition reviews.  The first of which is that existing retention labels cannot be modified to use the power automate disposition review.  A new label will need to be created and a script run to move any existing content labeled with the old label to the new label.  A few other limitations to consider are:

  • Power Automate disposition reviews require a premium connector license.  This is not a limitation but a strong consideration for planning within your organization.
  • If the label is created by a user different than the workflow, the workflow must be shared with that user.  It is the user account creating the retention label that kicks off the Power Automate disposition review
  • Regulatory labels are not supported

In my next post, I’ll cover the steps to creating a Power Automate disposition review workflow and connecting it to a retention label.


Thanks for reading!