On 19th May 2021 Microsoft published a blog announcing Multi-stage disposition approval in Microsoft Records Management in Microsoft 365 as well as some other really nice enhancements to the Information Governance and Records Management tools.

The headline feature is the ability to configure a multi stage disposition approval process which takes place at the end of a prescribed retention period. This feature is live NOW and supports up to a 5 stage process. However this feature is still in Public Preview and this means Microsoft may change the feature at any time, so consider carefully how you deploy this feature in production environments until it reaches general release.

Before you look at configuring this in your tenant, you need to ensure you have the appropriate licensing which is an advanced compliance license (Microsoft 365 E5 or an E5 Compliance add on) for each user who will benefit from the settings. This means every user who has access to the information covered by the retention policy should be licensed. For more details in licensing please see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/servicedescriptions/microsoft-365-service-descriptions/microsoft-365-tenantlevel-services-licensing-guidance/microsoft-365-security-compliance-licensing-guidance#information-governance.

If you edit an existing retention label with a disposition review option you will be able to add additional stages to the review, as well as having multi stage disposition available for new labels too. Before you start, be sure to draft the processes including the people/groups who will carry out each stage of the disposition review. A limitation at this time is that only mail-enabled security groups are supported NOT Microsoft 365 groups. Microsoft 365 groups will be supported in the future, though no date as yet. All reviewers need to have appropriate permissions (See https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/compliance/disposition?view=o365-worldwide#permissions-for-disposition)

To create a new label with a multi stage disposition review

1. Navigate to the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center and under Information Governance choose Create a Label


Multi-Stage Disposition

3. Add the name and descriptions, then click Next

Multi-Stage Disposition

4. Choose retention settings and select Trigger a disposition review, then click Next

Multi-Stage Disposition

5. Name each stage (maximum of 5 stages) and add the people or groups, then click Next

Multi-Stage Disposition

6. Review setting and then Create label

Multi-Stage Disposition

Remember you will need to add the new label to a label policy or create a new label policy to make it available to users.

The second big update, Adaptive Policy Scopes, is currently in private preview. If you would like to sign up to the private preview you should complete the form at https://aka.ms/MIPC/AdaptiveScopes-Preview. Microsoft are looking for organisations with test tenants as this feature is not recommended for deployment into a production environment at this stage. You should also have time to work with the engineers on evaluating and testing the features within your organisation requirements.

Adaptive Policy Scopes have been designed to help organisations cope with a changing landscape as users and containers (sites/Teams) are subject to change which would indicate the application of differing retention settings, such as change of department. The Adaptive Policy Scopes will also help overcome the limits per retention policy when specifying or excluding users/containers from a policy see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/compliance/retention-limits?view=o365-worldwide#maximum-number-of-items-per-policy for detail of these limits.

Adaptive policy scopes will be assigned based on attributes. In this screenshot you can see an example of user attributes being used to define a user adaptive scope which will allow retention policies to be assigned users within the New York Sales department.

Multi-Stage Disposition

The improvements to the disposition approval experience include speed improvements, list sorting and filtering, addition of reviewers to individual items, retention extension and/or relabelling will have a big positive impact. As will the ability to add customised text to the notification and reminder emails. These and a few reminders of items already announced were included in Microsoft’s blog and we’ll cover those in more detail in later posts.