The Return of the Declare Record Button to Collabware CLM


Collabware CLM 2016 makes many positive changes to several key elements of the system in order to provide more power and more flexibility to our users. Some have already been covered in detail while others are still waiting to be discovered. We transformed Retention Schedules into Workflows, which provides the ability to support highly customized Retention and branching paths, among many other things. We updated Content Rules, now called Content Matching Rules, which allow users to define and/or style conditions and no longer requires locking the rule down to a single Content Type. I could go on; there are so many other improvements we made to the system. However, that is not the purpose of this post. Instead, this post is about the need to stay the same as much as to evolve.

Upon unveiling Collabware CLM 2016, we have received a huge amount of positive feedback. However, we have also received some negative feedback. We at Collabware are always open to hearing what doesn’t work. In fact, it’s how we were able to evolve so much with this latest version. We listened to our customers’ pain points and attempted to address them. However, in this situation, we have taken a step forward for some and a step backward for others.

I am speaking about the removal of the Declare Record button.

We removed this button as a conscious decision to move away from being “only” a Records Management solution and more toward being an Information Governance solution. One of the key things we identified as a “pain point” for our users was the fact that Collabware CLM could only action on an item is if it was first Declared a Record. This makes sense for a Records Management solution: only records need to be managed. But our customers realized that some of our features could be leveraged for items that were not records: items that were still drafts, work in progress, renditions and copies, and transitory documents. And having to declare them as records first to leverage those features was becoming a problem.

Thus, the concept of capturing an item to a Workflow prior to it becoming a Record was born. With this drastic shift came the realization that we should not have users pushing a button that said Declare Record when the item was not becoming a Record, and might even never become a Record. This could lead to some user confusion.

Instead, we opted to generalize our language. If a user needs to manually capture an item to a Workflow, regardless of whether or not it will become a Record, we provided them two buttons: Apply Event and Start Workflow. Both of these buttons present the same prompt: it shows the user the Workflow they are going to be starting and prompts them to confirm that selection. This step is exactly the same as it was previous versions, where the user had a chance to confirm that they were Declaring the Record to the correct Category, except now they are not only confirming the Category, they are also confirming a specific Workflow.


Users can start a Workflow by clicking this option or clicking the select event button Users can start a Workflow by clicking this option or clicking the select event button


In Collabware CLM 2016, if a step in the Workflow was to Preserve the Document as a Record, we left the option open to organizations to determine how this happened: does a user manually declare the Record? Is it automatically captured after not being modified for a time period? Does the system wait for a metadata change, like “Draft” to “Final”? Whichever way users want to do it is supported, and now they can provide several different ways for their users, something that was not possible previously.


Three ways of declaring a record: Time Period, Content Rule, Manual Declare Three ways of declaring a record: Time Period, Content Rule, Manual Declare


So there are several key benefits to this change. However, some of our customers provided negative feedback to this change. Their response was this: You have changed the way our users must declare records; we now must re-train them.

This is an extremely valid point. The difficulty of training users only underscores the even-greater-difficulty of re-training users. Having lead many user training sessions myself, I sincerely appreciate how complex it can be to get a large body of a very diverse group of users to go about their work in the same way.

Another point that was brought up is the fact that the change to the way a Workflow is started changes the context of clicking the button. Whereas before it was a very clear Declare Record, now it is a rather ambiguous Start Workflow, which may or may not declare the item an Active Record immediately. There are several ways to address this issue using Workflows and our custom Event Triggers (as shown above), but it requires additional setup. The Declare Record button was simple, if slightly limited.

As I said, Collabware is always open to the feedback of our users, and we are also willing to make changes and updates if there is enough desire. For example, one of our older versions removed the Undeclare Record button from the ribbon. We felt that since the feature is limited to only Records Managers, having the Undeclare Record button on the library ribbon was too exposed. However, customers quickly pointed out that they could now no longer multi-select to Undeclare. Immediately following this feedback, the next version that was released returned the Undeclare Record button to the library ribbon.

Likewise, I am happy to announce the return of the Declare Record button. However, there are several things that you should be aware of with the Declare Record button. First of all, we did not remove our Apply Event dropdown: it is used to trigger many different Workflow Events, not just to start the Workflow. It is the only mechanism for allowing users to choose between “Mark Obsolete” and “Extend Retention 1 Year”. So the Apply Event must stay. When the item is available to have the Workflow Start, the Apply Event button will still light up, just as before. However, the Declare Record button will also light up, since that is what declaring a Record does – starts the Workflow.


Both styles are available for users to click Both styles are available for users to click


The Declare Record button can now leverage the new Workflow Start interface, providing more power. In previous versions of Collabware CLM, if there were multiple Policies that could be applied to the Record, an error would be displayed; there was a requirement for a one-to-one mapping. Now, we have the power to display any matching Retention Schedules and allow the user to make the decision. This gives much greater flexibility.


Two different ways of managing Records from a single Category Two different ways of managing Records from a single Category


If there is only one Policy, or your Content Rules are specific enough to avoid multiple policies matching, then that Policy will be automatically selected, but the user must still manually confirm the start of the Workflow.

Another thing to be aware of is the fact that there is no requirement of the Item becoming an Active Record or Immutable immediately upon Workflow Start. The above screenshot shows Declare Record as the first Action (a re-named Preserve Action), but this has been done for demonstration purposes. The system does not add in the Preserve Action by default. It is up to you to build your Workflow the way you want to.

This is of course done because we want to allow Workflows to be created for items that do not get declared as official records until later in their Workflow Lifecycle or items that are not records at all. So it is very important to be aware that if you wish to use the Declare Record button, you should ensure that all of your Workflows always start with the Preserve Action; this action will confirm that the Item has been Classified to a Record Category and mark it as an Active Record, and, optionally, mark it Immutable as well.

The Declare Record button is important to some users of Collabware CLM, and we have respected their wishes and imported it into Collabware CLM 2016. However, we recognize that not all users will want to use this button, and some will not want it present at all. In order to support both scenarios, we have decided to make the Declare Record button a feature that can be enabled on the Site level. For those organizations who wish to have the Declare Record button, you must enable it under the Site Features list. For those who do not need the Declare Record button and wish to use the Start Workflow button (or simply start your Workflows Immediately upon Content Rule Match), you do not have to make any modifications.


Activating the Collabware CLM Legacy Declare Record Button within Site Features Activating the Collabware CLM Legacy Declare Record Button within Site Features


The Legacy Declare Record Button feature will be available in the next release of Collabware CLM 2016. We hope that everyone will be happy with this quick update and we look forward to hearing more feedback on the new Collabware CLM 2016. We are very proud of it and hope that you are able to make use of its amazing features!

Want to learn more about Collabware CLM? Contact us or download our free brochure:


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Tagged: SharePoint, Collabware CLM, Development

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