First look: Adaptive scopes for retention

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Information governance for Microsoft 365 has come a long way. Some might recall the ability (which is still there) to create a so-called Record Center in SharePoint on-premises and SharePoint Online. And using the “content organizer” to route documents to another destination. Or what about using in-place record management based on the content types within your site-collection?

That was quite some time ago. Since then we’ve been provided with retention policies and retention labels. Both options allow us to retain information for a specific period. Where retention labels are visible to our end-users and can be selected/changed, the retention policies work on the back-end of the platform; information is kept save in a secure and hidden location.

Labels and policies have many similarities. Both work with a retention period and both are targetted at specific locations within Microsoft 365. And these locations are static. For example: let’s say that you have a retention policy for all project-sites or project Teams environments. Within the policy, you target the specific SharePoint/Teams locations. When a new project is created, this project location needs to be added to the policy. This is a cumbersome process.

Adaptive scopes

In the last months, Microsoft has announced many (preview) enhancements to the information governance of Microsoft 365. One of these was multi-stage disposition. But another big enhancement (in my opinion) are the “Adaptive scopes” as these address the issues as stated above.

Adaptive scopes allow you to create a more dynamic scope for your label and retention policies. It’s somewhat similar to the dynamic membership for Active Directory groups. But where that membership is only based “per-user”, the adaptive scopes can be used for users | SharePoint sites | Microsoft 365 Groups.

Creating an adaptive scope is relatively easy. But there is one huge pre-requisite: Microsoft 365 needs to be able to apply the scope. Or, on other words, make sure your Azure AD is up to date and/or your SharePoint sites have the relevant metadata – which also includes a naming convention.

Any of the locations have default attributes you can use to create the scope. For a user-based scope you can use specific Azure Active Directory attributes. For a site-based scope you can use parts of the URL or information in the site-property bag. A Microsoft 365 Group can be added to the scope using the mail-address and/or display-name (amongst others).

When using the Site URL attribute, please note that you can add the part after the https://<domain>/ bit.

When the scope has been created, you can select this from the admin-center. This way, you can edit the scope – if needed. But there is another option which is relevant. And this is called “Scope details”. And you can use this option to see if the scope is working as planned. When selecting this option, you will either see the users, sites or Microsoft 365 Groups that are part of the scope. Be aware of the time needed for Microsoft 365 to create the scope though. You will need to be patient!

Using the scopes

Adaptive scopes are used for the retention policies or to publish certain retention labels. So it should not be any surprise to learn that the wizard for these two options now included the adaptive scopes.

You can set any policy to include an adaptive scope. But be aware that the selected adaptive scope will effect the scope of the retention locations themselves. Let’s take a look.

User scope

  • Exchange email
  • OneDrive for Business
  • Teams chats
  • Teams private channel messages
  • Yammer user messages (Preview)

Site scope

  • SharePoint Online sites
  • OneDrive for Business

Microsoft 365 group scope

  • Microsoft 365 Group
  • Teams channel messages
  • Yammer community messages

Please note that Yammer and Teams cannot be combined with email, OneDrive or the Microsoft 365 Group. Selecting these will de-select the other options. This has nothing to do with the adaptive scopes – this was also the case for the static scopes. And yes: Yammer is included as-well!

You can of course combine all options. The limitations (Yammer, Teams) will still apply. And one weird thing: I cannot include Skype for Business in any scope. But that’s perhaps my tenant….

All in all

Adaptive scopes is a big win for retention in Microsoft 365. It allows for more flexible retention solutions to be based on (user/site/group) metadata instead of static information. Please note however that you will need to make sure that your environment is ready for this. For example: having a naming or metadata convention for SharePoint sites and Microsoft 365 groups – in order for the adaptive scopes to work.

As this is a first look, I’m sure I will be going back to this in future. For now, if you want more information on Microsoft 365 retention, please visit:

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