Before moving on to our next topic of record declaration & classification (which I know that many of you are anxiously waiting to hear about), this week’s posting discusses the last two features in the Information Management Policy framework of the 2007 release of the Office system – labels & barcodes.

Both of these features target a problem of particular interest to records managers – namely, how to manage physical records or documents in a manner consistent with their electronic counterparts? This is of course, requirement #1 for using a Records Management Application to handle physical records – while the application stores a digital object that represents the record, containing metadata about the record (like where the physical record is being stored), the appropriate disposition schedule for the record, etc., users need a barcode or labeling system to identify which physical records correspond to which digital objects.

So in the 2007 release of the Office system, we’ve included features for labeling & barcodes to automatically assign identifiers to content.

What do you mean by labeling & barcodes?

When we talked to customers about how they assigned identifiers to objects, we heard two main approaches:

  • Metadata-based labels: Some preferred to use an identification scheme that communicated metadata about the objects in the identifiers themselves. For example, some of our legal customers assigned identifiers to records that were based on the number of the client account, the jurisdiction of the matter in question, the year the matter was initiated, and the number of the folder that contained the record, like: Northwind—Massachusets—2006—001 .
  • Machine-readable barcodes: Other customers preferred to use machine-readable identifiers like barcodes. While these didn’t communicate any information about the record directly, they could be read by scanner devices to automatically look up the record information from the application.

So in the 2007 release, we’ve provided features that can use either approach.

Label Policies:

Label policies are the mechanism for assigning metadata-based identifiers. Label policies specify how to assemble the metadata about an item or document into an identifier, and the label is automatically filled in as the metadata is entered. And the label can of course be searched for to locate items on the server.

Here is a screenshot of the settings page for configuring a Label policy:

 

Barcode policies:

Barcode policies (as you may expect) are the mechanism for assigning machine-readable identifiers. Once a barcode policy is applied to a Content Type, barcodes will automatically be assigned to items as they are created or uploaded to the system, and items can be searched for using their barcode value.

Here is a screenshot of an item that has been assigned a barcode via a policy:

 

The barcode format is totally configurable – Office SharePoint Server 2007 includes a component for generating barcodes that conform to the “Code 39” barcode symbology (formally known as ANSI/AIM BC1-1995), but components that provide barcodes in other formats can be plugged in as well.

Barcodes and labels in the Office 2007 client applications

And while everything mentioned above applies to managing any type of item or document in Office SharePoint Server, label & barcode policies have some additional capabilities when  applied to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.

Policies on these types of documents can specify that the label/barcode should be included in print-outs of these documents, and the Office 2007 applications will then provide users with an opportunity to add the label or barcode automatically when they print those documents out.

Here's a screenshot of a user printing out a document with a barcode policy:

In this way, document print-outs can be made to include the appropriate labels & barcodes to ensure that they can be easily correlated with the digital documents in Office SharePoint Server.

Thanks for reading!
- Ethan Gur-esh, Program Manager.