Quick wins in a document management crisis

Many users can have issues with how they manage content within their organisation. Some will already have SharePoint but they might not be trained on how to utilise it, so it may become abandoned and old habits seep back in. For others who don’t have SharePoint but would like to know how they can diminish common document management headaches, here are a few quick wins:

Use metadata

Metadata means you can search your records a lot easier and filter out what you need. You can base it on content type, client type, project type – and more fundamental tags too such as document/record author or when it was last modified. This is enabled in SharePoint columns instead of lots of unnecessary folders (even in the Cloud they can build up and get annoying!).

This means when you drag and drop documents into SharePoint, most of your default metadata will already be filled out for you. However, you must have quality information – search and eDiscovery are driven by good information architecture. It’s vital your workforce understands the value that accurate metadata will provide. Example: If your records are contracts, you will want to run retention/expiration policies against them.

Ensure security and governance is up to scratch

Out of date processes and software can be dangerous. Especially if you have several processes and different software within your content management process. If data cannot be secured, then you’re at risk of not being compliant with your records. When it comes to working and collaborating things can become complicated. Permissions of certain records must be monitored and the sharing capabilities need to be supervised too. If someone were to leave the company, would the process of records management be affected? If the answer is yes then your process and infrastructure needs to change. (FYI, the answer to this should always be ‘no’!)

Document management & SharePoint: Apply workflow

Workflows can be very useful; rather than paper-pushing documents around the office and sending reminders to colleagues when tasks need to be completed, workflows make this happen for you.
Utilise SharePoint’s built in workflow designer, or Microsoft Flow to accomplish this.

Utilise Search

If you spend as much time hunting for files as you do working on them, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that productivity drops as a direct consequence. SharePoint has a very powerful search facility for retrieving documents. Nonetheless, this only works well if users add metadata to documents correctly. Sadly, users find adding lots of metadata awkward and off-putting – so you need to find a balance between terms being too broad and overly specific. Nonetheless, sitting down with your colleagues and redefining your metadata so it’s more effective will pay dividends in the long run.

Good document management in SharePoint makes it easy to find people in your company

In large organisations, finding colleagues who can help resolve certain problems or provide specific advice can be hard. SharePoint can give you a quick win here. By encouraging colleagues to fill out their personal profiles with up to date information about themselves, SharePoint’s search function can discover them. This makes it a lot easier to find a colleague who has expertise on a specific and niche area.

Document management & SharePoint: Use Content Types

Content Types are crucial to building an effective SharePoint site. Content Types can be used to build work areas and capture important metadata. They enable you to manage the settings for a category of information.

If you’d like some more detail, download our document management guide here.