Can Microsoft Office 365 Standalone Achieve End-to-End RM Compliance?



Enterprise-level Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) recently announced new records management capabilities for licensed E5 users, so today we're asking: can organizations achieve a complete,  end-to-end records management system that ensures compliance, backup and security using only these Microsoft 365 "out-of-the-box" features?

The answer lies in fully understanding your organization's requirements to remain compliant. Microsoft 365 Enterprise comes in levels E3 and E5. Both enterprise levels offer a solid foundation for  basic retention and categorization needs. However, most organizations have regulations, such as financial institutions with SEC17a-4 or government agencies with federal mandates,  that require more evolved security, content discovery, recovery and disposition features. 

So let's see if Microsoft 365 features check your organization's compliance boxes...

This article will compare costs and key features of Microsoft 365 levels E3/G3 and E5/G5.* We'll also include our cloud-based solution, Collabspace,  to show the enhancements and process improvements this add-on solution brings to any M365 level  for  a complete and fully regulatory-compliant RM system!

While this post is meant to cover the basics, we've also created a Microsoft 365 RM + Collabspace Comparison Chart that lists and differentiates all these features, and more. You can download it below to review which solution (or solution pairing) is  ideal for your organization's needs.

Which level does your organization use? At what cost?

Let's begin by asking: what enterprise level of Microsoft 365 does your organization use?

Most organizations run on the standard E3, and being mid-tier, this level has fewer RM capabilities than its E5 counterpart.  While E3 provides a great foundation for retention and categorization, E5 offers more capabilities with  preservation, file plan building, and disposition. This increase of capabilities comes at an increased cost.

How much is O365 per user?

  Currently priced at $57 USD per user, O365 E5 is nearly double the price of E3 ($32 per user). 

If your organization is already  licenced for M365, you have the option of pairing the Microsoft 365 level you're already paying for with an add-on that will meet your organization's records management and compliance needs, such as Collabspace. 

In terms of cost, using  Collabspace alone or pairing it with your current E3 is still more cost effective for large enterprises  than upgrading to E5. If you'd like to know specifics around pricing for your organization's content, please contact us.

Now that we've talked dollars, let's find out what these costs cover...

Read through the feature differentiation yourself, but here's a spoiler... we work better together!

Differentiating Key Features: Office 365 E3, E5, and Collabspace

Since Office 365 level E3 and E5 are often the more common solutions amongst large enterprises, we'll be looking at a few of their key RM capabilities alongside Collabspace. For the full overview of all records management features, download our Free O365 RM + Collabspace Comparison Chart below to decide what is optimal for your organization's RM program!

Securing your Content

When you need to ensure  all information is properly protected and managed.

Microsoft 365 E3/G3

Microsoft 365 E5/G5 Collabspace
Protection needs to be configured.  Pre-configuration, content is vulnerable to accidental deletion. Protection needs to be configured. Pre-configuration, content is vulnerable to accidental deletion. Collabspace has WORM-compliant storage so protection is on by default to avoid accidental deletion. Destruction needs to be configured.


Managing Electronic and Physical Records

When you need to manage both  electronic and physical content. 

Microsoft 365 E3/G3

Microsoft 365 E5/G5 Collabspace
Electronic non-records only. Electronic-only. Fully integrated electronic and physical content management.


Managing Content Across Systems

When you need to  manage electronic content across systems. 

Microsoft 365 E3/G3

Microsoft 365 E5/G5 Collabspace
Microsoft 365 content  only. Limited social connectors. Microsoft 365 content  only. Limited social connectors. Manages content across multiple systems through integrated connectors using a Data Lake approach


Managing File Plans

When you need to centrally manage hierarchical File Plan(s). 

Microsoft 365 E3/G3

Microsoft 365 E5/G5 Collabspace
Not available.  Single, non-hierarchical File Plan. Multiple, hierarchical File Plans which are individually secured and managed. There are no limitations to the number of levels that can be built out. 


Immediate Preservation

When you need to ensure content is protected immediately. 

Microsoft 365 E3/G3

Microsoft 365 E5/G5 Collabspace
Not available.  Content is protected when Record label is applied. This takes up to 7 days to apply, and content can be deleted during this period.  All content is preserved immediately by default.  With WORM-compliant storage,   this is immediate insurance against accidental deletion.


Categorization of Different Content Types 

When you need to support  all types of  content.  

Microsoft 365 E3/G3

Microsoft 365 E5/G5 Collabspace


Not available.


Supports matching text content and metadata in standard text document types (i.e. Office documents).

Supports all text content, content metadata and non-text content formats (image, audio, video). Performs automatic OCR and audio/video transcription. 


Time and Event-based Retention

When you need to apply time and event-based retention with  multiple retention stages. 

Microsoft 365 E3/G3

Microsoft 365 E5/G5 Collabspace
Not available.   Single-stage time and event-based retention available. 

Multi-stage time and event-based retention available using  visual workflow system. Supports retention logic such as multiple time periods and/or event combinations. 


Content Search & Discoverability

When you need to search all content types and all content locations. 

Microsoft 365 E3/G3

Microsoft 365 E5/G5 Collabspace
Searches within standard text documents located within Microsoft 365.  Searches within standard text documents located within Microsoft 365.  Searches within all document formats across all connected content sources (including all versions). Automatically performs OCR and audio/video transcription to search within images, scanned documents, and media files. 


Content Disposition Review

When you need to take any action on completion of a disposition review. 

Microsoft 365 E3/G3

Microsoft 365 E5/G5 Collabspace
Not available.  Supports delete, defer, or re-label (if not a record).  Does not support multi-stage review.

Support any action, including transfer and accessioning, using visual workflow system.  Supports multi-stage review.

Also supports non-RM users as participants of a review.



Microsoft 365 offers great foundational  records management capabilities for  content retention and categorization. However, some of the features necessary for end-to-end physical and electronic  content lifecycle management, and requirements needed to meet legal and regulatory standards are not fully covered.  While  Microsoft 365 E5 provides more capabilities than E3, a 75% cost increase is significant for a system that still lacks several key features.

Make the Most of Your Investment with Solution Pairing

By pairing  Microsoft 365 E3 with Collabspace,  organizations get a fully-fledged, secure and compliant records management system that is more cost-effective for large enterprises than Microsoft 365 E5 alone. In addition, end users save massive amounts of time   with automatic retention and auto-categorization, search (OCR and audio/video transcription for optimized eDiscovery), and  immediate preservation (thats SEVEN days more of risk aversion).

Download our Free Microsoft 365 RM + Collabspace Comparison Chart below to decide the best fit for your organization, but we're just saying.. two powerhouse solutions are better than one!


Access Microsoft 365 + Collabspace Comparison Chart

Any questions? Contact us to learn more about how Collabspace  can help your organization save time and costs   by automating and optimizing your records management processes.


*G3 and G5 Microsoft solutions are versions offered specifically to   Government organizations.


Tagged: Collabspace, Records Management, Office 365

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