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Top 5 Best Practices for Document Management in SharePoint

Posted on January 15, 2014
SharePoint

I get lots of emails and questions on social media regarding SharePoint document management best practices. When it comes to organizing documents – there are definitely lots of options that exist – it all depends on your particular business need. However, I would like to share what I think are the top five best practices that would be true for any scenario or SharePoint document library. I expect my audience to have Administrative privileges to the site to take advantage of most of the items below. If you do not have proper permissions –please contact your administrator and show him this article as a reason why you need Admin privileges. :) So here it goes:

1. Use Meta tags/Data Columns to tag documents, rather than recreating network drive folders

Stuffing documents in folders is such an old school. Meta tags are the way to go. Not convinced? Check out this post and slide deck: Document Management in SharePoint without folders – Introduction to SharePoint Metadata (Step-by-Step Instructions)

2. Use Content types for dynamic meta tagging

Go one step further and take advantage of Content Type functionality. It allows you to set dynamic properties/meta tags depending on the document you upload (i.e. if you are uploading Meeting Minutes from last project meeting – you might want to tag them differently comparing to, say, PowerPoint presentation you received from last week’s vendor presentation.

3. Setup an alert for a document library

Do you have hard time falling asleep at night because you think someone will delete the file you uploaded to SharePoint? Or may be you are just a control freak? Then an alert will put your worries aside. Alerts can be configured at a library and document level and will notify the user if files in the library have been deleted or changed by someone else. Alert can be setup by any user, even those without admin rights.

4. Use Version Control/Check-out features only if users require it

Versioning and document check-in is cool, but do you really need it? Yes, versioning allows you to restore previous versions of the document and check-out feature prevents from accidentally modifying same doc by 2 people at same time, but does Business actually need it? The features demand strict adherence and discipline (i.e. same file names) within organization. Unless you are using document repository as records management tool, you might want to think twice about this. If all your users need is some place to store files, you can easily get away from additional frustration.

5. Create Views, many views!

Once you setup your Meta tags, you can do wonders with views! Create all sorts of views (make sure to make them public) and use filter/sort/group function to display what you want. Views can also help manage space on a page. If you have lots of lists and libraries on a page and want to fit it all, make sure to use “simplified’ view with just few columns to capture “important” data. Users can then use rest of views to display other pieces of information.