Using retention labels and retention policies to implement data governance

Data governance is all about keeping your data around when you need it and getting rid of it when you don't. With data governance in Microsoft 365, you can manage the full content lifecycle, from importing and storing data at the beginning, to creating policies that retain and then permanently delete content at the end. Microsoft 365 takes a unified approach to discovering, classifying, and labeling your content across locations.

Across your organization, you probably have different types of content that require different actions taken on them in order to comply with industry regulations and internal policies. For example, you might have:

  • Tax forms that need to be retained for a minimum period of time.
  • Press materials that need to be permanently deleted when they reach a certain age.
  • Competitive research that needs to be both retained and then permanently deleted.
  • Work visas that must be marked as a record so that they can't be edited or deleted.

In all of these cases, retention labels can help you take the right actions on the right content. With retention labels, you can classify data across your organization for governance, and enforce retention rules based on that classification.

With retention labels, you can:

  • Enable people in your organization to apply a retention label manually to content in Outlook on the web, Outlook 2010 and later, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Office 365 groups. Users often know best what type of content they're working with, so they can classify it and have the appropriate policy applied.

  • Apply retention labels to content automatically if it matches specific conditions, such as when the content contains:

    • Specific types of sensitive information.
    • Specific keywords that match a query you create.

    Automatically applying retention labels is important because:

    • You don't need to train your users on all of your classifications.
    • You don't need to rely on users to classify all content correctly.
    • Users no longer need to know about data governance policies - they can instead focus on their work.
  • Apply a default retention label to a document library in SharePoint and Office 365 group sites, so that all documents in that library get the default retention label.

  • Implement records management across Office 365, including both email and documents. You can use a retention label to classify content as a record. When this happens, the label can't be changed or removed, and the content can't be edited or deleted.

Try it

Explore retention policies with this interactive guide:

Create retention policies in Microsoft 365

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In this video, you’ll see how integrated and intelligent data governance in Microsoft 365 can help you manage the lifecycle of your content to meet compliance requirements and manage risk.