Once of SharePoint’s greatest strengths as a document management system or intranet is its flexibility. It allows users with little IT or technical knowledge to create and manage a SharePoint environment and make changes that suit the business need.
This is also one of its weaknesses because without rules for creating SharePoint sites and libraries, the SharePoint environment can turn from a well organised environment where users can find content easily to a Hodge podge mess where nobody can find anything.
You can usually use the out of the box features to achieve most of what you need, sometimes you may require SharePoint development or SharePoint integration services.
Below are some rules to consider when designing a SharePoint environment for your business.
Training is key in helping your users understand what the document management system will be used to manage, how it has been setup and where they can store their files and access files they need. Without training the benefits of a document management system will be lost.
- Finding Documents
The ability for users to quickly find documents is critical to the system success. Research from Gartner has shown that people in business spend up to 5 times more time searching for a document than actually viewing the content within that document. You need to ensure that the structure you use is designed in a way that will make sense to the people using it.
- Document IDs
You need to be able to identify documents easily and the best way to do this is to use the inbuilt automatic document numbering feature. This will automatically assign every document a number and if you ever want to reference a document you can use this number.
- Document Versioning
Document versioning allows you to track different version of our document and who made what changes. You can use major i.e. v1.0, v2.0, etc or major and minor versioning, i.e. v0.1, v0.2, v1.0.
Minor versions are useful for bigger businesses where a formal approval process is required before a document can be released.
- Naming Conventions
Naming conventions allow you to standardise how you label documents so that there is consistency. Use a descriptive and meaningful name for documents and files.
Do not use special characters such as, : = / \ * ? “ < > ! & either in document or file naming as SharePoint won’t accept these.
- Metadata (or categories)
Many people get scared when they see a term like metadata, they think they may need some technical skills.
Metadata is just a term for categorising documents and is information associated to a document. Metadata will help you to categories and search for your documents. Some common metadata or categories that are useful are:
- Document Status: Draft, Final, Published, Obsolete
- Document Category: create values that describe your documents at a high level
- Access Control
When designing your structure, you need to determine whether you want all users to see all content or whether you want to restrict some sensitive content.
Designing an effective SharePoint environment will be critical to you successfully deploying SharePoint in your business. By incorporating these tips you will be well on your way to ensuring your document management system is a success.
If you are looking for a company to provide you with SharePoint services, to better manage your documents, Complete Cloud can work with you to define rules that will work for your business.