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Does Confluence Support Document Versioning and Records Managment?

Steve Z Dec 21, 2016

My company has invested greatly in SharePoint which provides great Document Versioning (e.g. Word and Excel documents can be checked in and managed with Minor and Major Version numbers) and we build our own mechanism in SharePoint perform Records Management (e.g. Any Major version or non-draft version of a document) that is checked into the system AND has specific meta data identifying it as "Final" document is automatically copied to a special Records Management repository for 10 years).  If Confluence could address these two requirements, we could replace SharePoint and go with Confluence.  Are these feature available out of the box or by plug-in????

3 answers

4 votes
Rodney Hughes Dec 21, 2016

I agree with Nic.. it is a wiki

There are some file handling plugins for checkin/out

... BUT ....

I cringe when I hear anyone talking about document version numbering.  This usually relies on humans doing something and then finding the right version later on.

THE advantages of Confluence and its automatic versioning are twofold.

First as a wiki editing tool, it is FAR easier to manage document drafting and editing directly on screen rather than downloading/uploading documents - every User is then ALWAYS looking at and working on the latest version of the text.

Secondly if you do have to use file attachments, let Confluence archive the old versions - you can still access them via the Attachment page, but again, even having a link on the main page will ALWAYS point to the latest version of the attachment.  The trick here is to stop humans doing things such as changing the file name with some adhoc user-made-up suffix.  Leave the file name EXACTLY as it was and Confluence will just archive the old version when a new version is uploaded.

So you can forget about this cumbersome manual "final" metadata thing with your Sharepoint processes - it is not automatic and it relies on being correctly assigned .. and what is a revision of a final referred to ???. Bound to happen over its 10-year life!!

The check in/out process is open to two people checking out the same document and uploading two different versions.
But still, both versions are saved so you can re-merge them if you have to.  Alternatively the first User locks the page for editing using Page Restrictions to just themselves so that it prevents other Users uploading.  They could also lock it as View Restricted so other Users can't even download it whilst the first User is working on it.  No real need for a plugin.

Nic Brough [Adaptavist] Community Leader Dec 21, 2016

And, in 6 onwards, you don't need to do page locking at all, as you can do concurrent editing.

Aron Gombas [Midori] Community Leader Dec 23, 2016

I agree that replicating the same processes that you had in SharePoint may not be the best approach. You should probably redesign your processes to leverage the Confluence way of thinking.

Steve Z Dec 29, 2016

Thank You for your feedback and candid responses.  I appreciate that my current usage of SharePoint and it rigidity surrounding versions and records management make many of you cringe.  The reality of my company's environment is that we operate in a regulated environment where our employees or customers can take legal action against us and will cite references to documents that were exposed to them at points in time.  We use SharePoint today to collaborate with draft/minor versions of documents (e.g. employee handbook). When a version is ready to publish (a major version) this is what is exposed to the employees.  We need to keep 10 years of these final/major versions.  It sounds like confluence is great for the collaboration portion, but lacks on the published/major/final versions and the retention of those published/major/final versions for 10 years.  Also, our company has an internal goal to have only one system of record for the documents we create and everyone points to that instance.  So we would not want to draft in Confluence and publish through SharePoint as this would be two systems of record and one is likely to get out of sync.  Does not sound like that Confluence will serve all my company needs given our regulatory requirements and desire for one system of record point in time version for 10 years.

Aron Gombas [Midori] Community Leader Dec 29, 2016

Now that we know more about your use case, I'd strongly suggest checking these two add-ons that may make Confluence to fit your use case better:

  1. Comala Workflows: drafts and publishing
  2. Archiving Plugin: retention of historical versions

(Always remember to check add-ons when looking for solutions. In the Atlassian world, add-ons are extremely powerful.)

Rodney Hughes Dec 29, 2016

Steve

we cringe at the mention of Sharepoint for good reason smile

The very simple ways to deal with such a use case in Confluence is to have either multiple Spaces and/or use Page Restrictions.

You could create one Space for your drafting environment and other Space(s) for what you want to release to the different groups of staff or clients etc - just grant access to each Space to the different groups of people.  If someone has not been granted access to the "Drafting Space" they won't even know the Space exists, and cannot see any of its content! smile  It is DEAD EASY to either copy or move a page from one Space to another when you are ready to "release".

and/or

Within a Space, set a page with Restricted Viewers to just your drafting team (by individual name or Permissions Group) so only they can see the page - all the Child pages to that page automatically inherit the same View Restriction.  The other Users of the Space will never know that page exists, even though they have access to the Space.  Then again it is DEAD EASY to copy or move the page to somewhere else in the Space's page structure, or another Space, where those View Restrictions don't apply,

and/or

You can set Page Edit Restrictions so that

a) if there are no View Restrictions set, all Space Users can see the page, but only the nominated Users in the Edit Restrictions list can edit the page

b) If there are View Restrictions, then you can set a SUBSET of those Users to be included in the Edit Restriction (to Edit you must be able to View)

.. and all that without any plugins smile

"Sharepoint" ... I am still shivering!!!!

Like Shehzad Iqbal likes this
0 votes
Nic Brough [Adaptavist] Community Leader Dec 21, 2016

It's not a document management system, it's a wiki at its heart.

It does keep a full history of page versions though (unless you choose to remove it), and has meta data functions, and you can easily add stuff to do things like automated copying.

0 votes
Evangelos Mantadakis Jun 21, 2018

Hi @Steve Z,

For the Confluence Cloud, we have introduced a revision number feature with the QC Documents for Confluence Cloud plugin .

The plugin is available for the Confluence Cloud.

This plug in enables you to create a matrix to link the 'revision number' (major number) with 'Confluence version numbers'

More information is available here .

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