How to Track the Progress of an Auto-Label Policy

Opening the Black Box

My article about how to create an auto-label policy to apply retention labels to Teams meeting recordings resulted in several questions. As I noted in the article, tracking the progress of auto-labeling can be challenging due to the black-box nature of the background processes which search for recording files to label. One suggestion was to use the technique explained in this blog post to use the SharePoint Online PnP PowerShell module to connect to sites and retrieve information about retention job activity. For example:

$SiteURL = "https://office365itpros.sharepoint.com/sites/Office365Adoption/"
Connect-PnPOnline -Url $SiteURL -Interactive
get-pnppropertybag -key "dlc_policyupdatelastrun"
get-pnppropertybag -key "dlc_expirationlastrunv2"
2/23/2021 11:18:42 PM
2/2/2021 8:02:41 PM

The first value (dlc_PolicyUpdateLastRun) is the date when the background job to evaluate retention dates for items last ran. The second (dlc_ExpirationLastRunv2) tells you the last time the background job ran to execute the retention action defined in labels when retention periods expire.

The background jobs which evaluate retention dates and execute actions are not directly connected to auto-label processing, but they give an insight into how SharePoint Online processes sites. In a nutshell, if a site is active, the background jobs process its content. If not, the site is ignored. This makes a lot of sense because it avoids SharePoint doing a bunch of work to check items in sites where no work is necessary. I don’t know if another value stores a date when action must be taken to process expired items, but it would make sense if it did.

These values date back to legacy management processing in SharePoint on-premises and while they still work, Microsoft introduced a new retention processing engine last year which might eventually nullify their use.

Off to the Audit Log

Interesting as these values are, they don’t tell us anything about the application of labels. In the last article, I mentioned that the Office 365 audit log captures the TagApplied event when a person or policy applies a retention label to an item. The audit events are available roughly 15 minutes after they occur, so this source seemed like a good place to investigate.

I ended up writing a script to do the following:

  • Find audit records for the TagApplied event in the last 14 days.
  • Filter the records to find those which apply the retention label used by the auto-label policy. The same filter makes sure to only select records for policy rather than user application.
  • Find the date of the recording from the file name generated by Teams. For instance, a recording named Call with James Ryan-20210217_141123-Meeting Recording.mp4 started at 14:11 on 17 February 2021.
  • Calculate how long it took to auto-label the recording file (the difference between the date the call started and the audit record).
  • Write the details to a SharePoint list to make the data available for additional analysis.

Here’s the main loop of the code to process the audit records. You can download the complete script from the Office 365 for IT Pros GitHub repository.

[array]$Records = (Search-UnifiedAuditLog -Operations TagApplied -StartDate $StartDate -EndDate $EndDate -Formatted -ResultSize 2000)
$TaggedRecordings = [System.Collections.Generic.List[Object]]::new() 
ForEach ($Rec in $Records) {
   $AuditData = $Rec.AuditData | ConvertFrom-Json
   If (($AuditData.DestinationLabel -eq $RetentionLabel) -and ($AuditData.UserType -eq "CustomPolicy")) { 
      $RecordingFileName = $AuditData.DestinationFileName
      $DateLoc = ($RecordingFileName.IndexOf("-202")+1)
      $RDate = $RecordingFileName.SubString($DateLoc,8)
      $TimeLoc = $DateLoc + 9
      $RTime = $RecordingFileName.SubString($TimeLoc,4)
      $RecordingDateTime = $RDate + $RTime
      [datetime]$RecordingDate = [datetime]::ParseExact($RecordingDateTime,"yyyyMMddHHmm",$null)
      [datetime]$TaggingDate = Get-Date($AuditData.CreationTime)
      $TimeToTag = ($TaggingDate - $RecordingDate)
      $TotalSeconds = $TotalSeconds + $TimeToTag.TotalSeconds
      $TimeToTagFormatted = "{0:dd}d:{0:hh}h:{0:mm}m" -f $TimeToTag
# Add the data about our record          
      $DataLine = [PSCustomObject] @{
         Workload            = $AuditData.Workload
         Recording           = $AuditData.DestinationFileName
         "Retention Label"   = $AuditData.DestinationLabel
         "Tagging Date"      = Get-Date($AuditData.CreationTime) -format g
         "Recording date"    = Get-Date($RecordingDate) -format g
         "Days to label"     = $TimeToTagFormatted
         Site                = $AuditData.SiteURL
         FullURL             = $AuditData.ObjectId }
    $TaggedRecordings.Add($DataLine) 
   } # End if
} # End ForEach

The Final Answer

After processing all the audit records, I know what Teams meeting recordings the auto-label policy has labelled and how long it took on average for an item to receive a label.

25 audit records found for auto-applying the Teams recordings retention label between 09/06/2021 19:36:43 and 23/06/2021 19:36:43
Average elapsed time to auto-label recordings: 02d:13h:28m
The report file is available in C:\temp\TaggedTeamsRecordings.csv.

The average time between creation and labeling depends on the gap between the meeting and when the labeling job runs. This seems to be on a weekly workcycle and usually runs over the weekend, so labeling a recording can take anything up to a week. An average of between two and four days is normal given that Teams captures new meeting recordings over the work week.

The same technique can be applied to track the progress of any auto-label policy.


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