SharePoint - From file shares to document libraries

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We all know SharePoint is a powerful platform with excellent Document Management features but do your end users agree? They have been working with folders and file shares for years and are hard to …

We all know SharePoint is a powerful platform with excellent Document Management features but do your end users agree? They have been working with folders and file shares for years and are hard to convince about the power of SharePoint. During this webinar I discussed my view about Document Management in SharePoint and what best practices people can use to convince those stubborn end users with their folders.

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  • This webinar isn’t a petition against file shares because they do serve a great purpose!

    Database: You don’t use SharePoint to store database files but leave these on a file share.
    Large video files: Although SharePoint has excellent features to view video files, I don’t think you want to start storing 4GB ISO files.
    BLOB: You can store your SharePoint BLOB files at a file share.
  • End-users, who aren’t working with SharePoint, LOVE file shares and folders.

    Familiar interface: End-users often have been working with file shares for years. They are used to the interface and the folder structure.
    Easy to use: Especially for end-users who have a lot of experience with file shares its relatively easy to use. They know how to find their folder and open the document. They don’t have to worry about versioning, filtering or possible workflows. They click a couple of times through their folder structure and open their document.
  • Although the file share serves it purpose it has many disadvantages in the storage of documents:

    Versioning: The only way to create multiple versions is by creating a new document with an 0.1/0.2/1.0 extension. This results in an overload of documents and creates confusion under your end-users. Where is the latest version? Who has the latest version? This happens because end-users tend to save documents locally or e-mail them to other users and forget to upload it to the file share.
    Custom metadata: There isn’t an option to create additional metadata. The only metadata available is through Office, for example the author of the document. The absence of this feature often results in a deeply nested folder structure.
    Offline access: No network? No access to documents!
    Custom permissions: End-users aren’t able to assign custom permission without full control permissions. The assignment of permission isn’t user friendly.
    Restore deleted documents: Accidently deleted a document? Time to contact your IT Department who aren’t to happy because they have to access their backup tapes (worse case scenario).
    Folder structure and new users: A folder structure works for long time employees but what about new people? They have to spend loads of time to learn the folder structures.
  • This is where SharePoint steps in! SharePoint has libraries to store documents, pictures and other assets. Every library comes with useful features to structure content:

    Folders
    Custom metadata & views
    Managed metadata
    Document sets

    Let’s discuss these in detail.
  • Although I am not a fan of folders in libraries they can be useful:

    Archive: Do you have a load of documents you aren’t going to use or view anymore but want to archive? Use one or more folders.
    Explorer view: Open Explorer view and it seems like you are using your old friend the file share again.
    Migration: Are you migrating from your file share folder structure to document libraries? You have the option to copy and paste the same structure. I don’t recommend this because going from this to metadata CAN BE very time consuming.
    Set default metadata: You can use a feature to automatically assign metadata to documents uploaded in a folder. (Show in demo).


  • Although the use of folders has a couple of benefits, I am not a fan because of the following reasons:

    Unfriendly navigation: The same reason as with the file share, new end-users won’t be able to find documents easily. The breadcrumb tends to disappear in most branded sites and you loose site of the higher level structure.
    Duplication of documents: The same document can be uploaded in multiple folders. This results in end users not knowing where the most recent version is.
    Undermines Search results: Custom metadata can be used as refiners for your search results. Folders cannot!
    Time consuming to switch: Have you put a lot time into creating a folder structure? Or perhaps after a 1 on 1 migration? Good luck changing this to metadata. The support of a third party tool can help!

  • I don’t like folders but for SkyDrive Pro its no problem at all because its your own personal space. My personal SkyDrive is one big folder structure, this can also work for SkyDrive Pro.
  • Show the following:

    Explorer view
    Automatic assigning of metadata
    Unfriendly navigation
    Duplication of documents
    Tip: Hide create folder option
  • I truly believe in the power of SharePoint and its Document Management features. The first prove for this is working with custom metadata & views:

    Flexibility: You create columns instead of folders to use metadata for your documents. There are a lot of different columns you can use such as date/time, choice and yes/no. This really improves your flexibility in structuring your documents compared to folders and file shares.
    Improve Search results: Search has a great feature called the Refinement Panel. You can extend the panel with additional refiners for example new columns you created for your document libraries. After a index of your SharePoint Portal you can create managed properties. You can configure a managed property to be used as a refiner.
    Filter content: You can assume that most of your end-users have experience with Excel. They will love the filter option in document libraries. This is easy to use and gets results quickly.
    Group by: One of my favorite features and prove you can create a structure for your documents AND keep an oversight of the complete structure. Group your documents based on their metadata. Let’s take a look at the demo!
  • These are the options you have to select when you want to use a managed property for search and as search refiner.
  • Although custom metadata and views can get your pretty far in structuring your documents, there are situations when certain limitations kick in. For example, the choice column doesn’t support a taxonomy where you have multiple metadata layers. This is where managed metadata steps in! This a column type that connects to the term store. The term store allows you to create a taxonomy.

  • Although custom metadata and views can get your pretty far in structuring your documents, there are situations when certain limitations kick in. For example, the choice column doesn’t support a taxonomy where you have multiple metadata layers. This is where managed metadata steps in! This a column type that connects to the term store. The term store allows you to create a taxonomy as can be seen in this screenshot.

    You can create multiple levels and even reuse terms.

  • Folksonomy: Terms are created in term sets. You have the option to open the term set for end-users input. Every end-users will be able to add terms. This created a so called folksonomy. You really have to think it through if you want this because you can end up with the same term but different spelling. Such as the first letter with a lower or higher case or maybe. This can create a bit of a mess. You have to put someone on the task of frequently checking the term set for “duplicates”. You can merge the terms so only one correct term remains.
    Consistent use of metadata: You can control the use of metadata from a higher level through the term store. By doing this you guarantee the correct metadata is applied at the locations you select. The metadata can also easily be reused in multiple sites.
    Term suggestions: You probably wonder how user friendly a deep term structure will be for end-users because it will become difficult to find the correct term. This is solved with term suggestions. Just start typing and you receive a suggestions.
  • Although managed metadata is a great feature there are a couple of disadvantages. These are more from an end-users perspective. There are more technical/architectural disadvantages such as the absence of an out-of-the-box export module.

    Confusing permissions structure: Terms are placed in a term set and term sets are place in groups. You cannot assign administrator permissions to a term set! Only to a group. This means that end-users would be able to edit other term sets.
    No datasheet view support SP2010: In SP2010 you aren’t able to edit the values of a managed metadata column with the datasheet view. This only works in SP2013. This means you have to apply a workaround in case of uploading multiple documents at once. My advise is to set the default value of the column, upload the files, and repeat this until you are done. Otherwise, don’t upload multiple documents at once 
    Export to Excel: This results in numbers and ID’s connected to the metadata. You have to do a find a replace to get rid of unwanted characters.
  • Document Sets are pretty awesome and have been around since SP2010! They have a couple of great advantages and are a great asset in the transition of end-users from file shares/folders to SharePoint and document libraries.

    Looks like a folder: This is really great for new SharePoint end-users because of the folder look and feel. Although it looks like a folder it is much more!
    Welcome page: This is a very cool feature and shows that a document set is much more than a folder. The DS comes with its own welcome page to display a bit more information about the DS
    Custom metadata & view: The DS can have its own view and metadata separate from the document library its in.
    Workflow: A DS is a content type, that means you can attach a workflow to it.
  • There are a couple of minor issues with Document Sets:

    Welcome page per content type: An adjustment to a welcome page in a document set is automatically done for ALL document sets, its configured per content type. That’s understandable but a bit annoying as well.
    No check in/out: You aren’t able to check in/out a document set but you are able to do this for the files within the DS.
    Issues with RM: I don’t have any experience with RM and DS but according the SP Community there are known issues combining these features
  • Office Web Apps: One of my favorite features! You are able to view and create documents with the browser. This is faster and you don’t need a local Office client to work with Office documents.
    Workflow: SharePoint has an advanced Workflow engine you can use to automate business processes with your documents.
  • I worked for 10 months for an large asset manager in the Netherlands. I supported the team internal Intranet team. They are functionally responsible for the SharePoint Online Intranet portal. A major part of the Intranet Portal was implementing team sites for internal departments. These people we used to working with file shares and folders for many, many years. The challenge was to show them the power of SharePoint and document libraries. I want to talk a little bit about this process.
  • Team sites have three major advantages for the departments:

    Central location: Information and documentation related to the departments were in multiple locations. By using the team site and its ootb features all the information and documentation comes together into one central location.
    Take control in own hands: The department isn’t longer depending on IT for changes or recovering deleted documents. This control is delegated to a site owner. This saves up a lot time because they don’t have to create a call with support desk and wait an unknown time period.
    Document Management: De DM features of SharePoint have considerable advantages compared to file shares.
  • Versioning: End-users don’t have to add a new document per version.
    Metadata: No more deep folder structures but metadata to structure content.
    Templates: Templates can be added to document libraries to automatically save documents in the correct location
  • We trained the end-users in working with the team site and document libraries. We showed them how to add new columns and use the group by feature. After that we send them off with a manual and the message to contact us in case of issues.
  • This approach didn’t work because the end-users didn’t had time to really think about a whole new structure for the team site. They also didn’t understand the concept of metadata versus folders.
  • Try to keep it simple! Why not start with a small library for storing team documents or meeting documents? Don’t start to big! Let people get used to SP and Document Libraries before you create advanced document libraries with a deep structure.
    I did find the use of document sets in combination with managed metadata very useful! Especially for departments working with customer dossiers.

Transcript

  • 1. From File Shares to Document Libraries September 4, 2013
  • 2. Managed metadata Document Sets
  • 3. Archive Migration Set default metadata
  • 4. Unfriendly navigation Undermines Search results Time consuming to switch
  • 5. Pro
  • 6. Filter content Group by
  • 7. Consistent use of metadata
  • 8. Custom metadata & view Workflow
  • 9. Issues with RM
  • 10. http://www.jasperoosterveld.com http://nl.linkedin.com/in/jasperoosterveld http://www.slideshare.net/sharepointjasper