Records Management in Microsoft 365: Content Search and Discovery



An overview of M365 content search and discovery: the three eDiscovery feature tiers, their licensing and costs, plus things to consider when determining if standalone is sufficient for your organization's needs.

outlook-m365-search-1Magnified cursor over Microsoft 365 apps, featuring Outlook. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Legal holds. FOIA/ATIP requests. Your run-of-the-mill content search for an email or document. These and other examples are the many  scenarios  that  make  proper content discovery capabilities fundamental for any organization working with digital records.

That's what we're talking about today. Specifically, content discovery capabilities for Microsoft 365 (M365), formerly known as Office 365.

Does M365 have the content discovery capabilities that your organization requires?

Answering this question requires  a bit more investigation and answering a few questions. This article aims to support  this process, by covering:

  • The 3 tiers of content discovery in M365 (including licensing and costs)
  • Upsides  of these features 
  • Things to consider  and questions to ask to determine  whether M365 covers your content discovery needs

We have also written similar article guides on both M365 data recovery and M365 records management capabilities. 

What content discovery capabilities does Microsoft 365 offer? 

There are three tiers available, the first is content search and the other two are different levels of eDiscovery.

Microsoft’s Content Search and eDiscovery search features help administrators quickly identify the content they need. Although both these features serve the same purpose, the eDiscovery search feature comes with a few additional capabilities than a Content Search tool.

Content Search

Use the Content search tool to search for content across Microsoft 365 data sources and then export the search results to a local computer.

You can use the Content search eDiscovery tool in the Microsoft 365 compliance center to search for in-place content such as email, documents, and instant messaging conversations in your organization. Use this tool to search for content in these cloud-based Microsoft 365 data sources:

  • Exchange Online mailboxes

  • SharePoint Online sites and OneDrive for Business accounts

  • Microsoft Teams

  • Microsoft 365 Groups

  • Yammer Groups

Core eDiscovery

Microsoft eDiscovery search is available with the eDiscovery tool in the Compliance Center. This feature allows administrators to run searches within Core and Advanced eDiscovery cases using keywords and conditions to identify specific content.

Core eDiscovery builds on the basic search and export functionality of Content search by enabling you to create eDiscovery cases and assign eDiscovery managers to specific cases. eDiscovery managers can only access the cases of which they are members. Core eDiscovery also lets you associate searches and exports with a case and lets you place an eDiscovery hold on content locations relevant to the case.

Advanced eDiscovery

The Advanced eDiscovery tool builds on the existing case management, preservation, search, and export capabilities in Core eDiscovery. Advanced eDiscovery provides an end-to-end workflow to identify, preserve, collect, review, analyze, and export content that's responsive to your organization's internal and external investigations. It lets legal teams manage custodians and the legal hold notification workflow to communicate with custodians involved in a case.

It allows you to collect and copy data from the live service into review sets, when you can filter, search, and tag content to cull non-relevant content from further review so your workflow can identify and focus on content that's most relevant. Advanced eDiscovery provides analytics and machine learning-based predictive coding models to further narrow to scope of your investigation to the most relevant content.

The pros of using Microsoft 365 for content discovery  

Organizations already using Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 can benefit from enabling the Compliance Center eDiscovery capabilities. With continuous data retention and recovery, and tight integration with other M365 management tools, organizations will get more value out of a tool they are already paying for. 

Things to consider with Microsoft 365 data recovery

1. Limited Availability

2. Upgrading Costs

3. Able to search across stored content. What about other content?

4. Lacking certain features, such as automatic transcription

Ask yourself....

5. What is your organization’s industry? What are your data retention requirements? 

6. Do you have content stored in repositories outside of Microsoft 365, such as file shares, physical records or other applications? 

7. Are you already using M365 data protection features, or those of a third-party vendor? If not, do you have a data protection plan? 

8. Which M365 license does your organization use? How many and what type of users does your organization consist of? 

9. What is your organizational budget? 

Whether your research guides you to keep your Microsoft 365 as is OR to explore third-party options, we are happy to help. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Collabware has a Services Team with expertise in Microsoft 365, information governance and data protection who is ready to help you make the most of your Microsoft investment, or find an option that best suits your budget and company processes. To avoid upgrading, you can also bring on a third party tool, such as our cloud solution Collabspace, for unlimited users, versioning, auto-categorization, retention and WORM-compliance to avoid data loss, deletion or tampering.

Contact us with your questions. To learn more about Microsoft 365 records management capabilities, download our free capabilities comparison chart below:

Microsoft 365 + Collabspace Comparison Chart




Tagged: Collabspace, Discovery, Microsoft 365

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