Rest in Peace SharePoint – A place where documents go to die

SharePoint Memorial service for the team site that has looked like this since 2009 back when it was created. You can see there are no contacts filled in and if there are they are old. Announcements? Who comes here for announcements? Tasks don’t we have Project Server, Team Foundation Server, Outlook, OneNote and a handful of other tools to manage our tasks?

No One Notices You

Rest in peace dear team site, no one will ever find the documents shared here, this is truly the place where documents have come to die. The question is, if SharePoint is so popular and so widely deployed why is it a document graveyard in so many organizations? OK, so there are number of readers who can relate to this site and a dozen reasons why your site still looks like the one pictured here. There are also several companies using various parts of SharePoint successfully and they are very happy with the product overall. SharePoint is very easy to use for collaboration so it begs the question what is the problem here?

The issue with the site pictured here is some one imagined that SharePoint would all of sudden become the authority for the content being requested, or didn’t think thru the question who wants to maintain all this stuff here when other systems are already in place for this? SharePoint provides a great platform to integrate into the authoritative sources where much of the information lives and is already maintained. Instead of treating SharePoint like another application silo this is the perfect opportunity to bring together the other information repositories where information is generally stored.

In the team site pictured here I would work to do make the following changes

  • Contacts – Come from the CRM instance or the company directory
  • Tasks – Come from the time entry system or project repository for the projects I am currently active on
  • Announcements – Come from an external feed with relative industry news or from an automated feed inside the company that gives me business insight

You probably get the point by now in reference to pulling the information into one place from a the system in place that already manage this information is better than expecting someone to manage it here gives me a reason to make the team site a destination. There is value is not being forced to navigate multiple applications when SharePoint can act as a content aggregator across the applications for me.

Folder-Mania

What is Folder-Mania you may ask? This is the idea that someone has to take large portions of a file share and dump it into a document library create a horrible user experience of nest folders in a browser. You have seen this a time or two on your SharePoint server?

 

 

 

 

 

We know that many customers will quickly learn to only dump files out here as place holder and miss out on much of the value SharePoint has to offer here. So how we do we address Folder-Mania from running wild? There are couple of key things you can do quickly to help address folder-mania.

  • More Document libraries – Use document libraries for grouping document instead of folders. The key here is you do not have to place everything in a hierarchy. There are documents in sales with the appropriate permissions of course that plenty of applicability in other lines of business areas. Document libraries allow you to surface these documents easily in other areas of the site. In addition document libraries have the ability to create views over larger documents sets and contain powerful features for sorting and filtering.
  • Search – Just get it working to start so it is not throwing errors. I am always surprised at how many customers don’t even have it turned on. Search can do a lot even before you have a world class information architecture, taxonomy and managed metadata tuned to perfection.
  • Social – All valuable content does not end up in documents, they are often found in the discussions that takes place across your organization. This becomes more valuable when the discussion happens in context or in the same workspace as the supporting documents. Now that there are active discussions going on your documents become active references versus archived information.
  • SkyDrive Pro – Share documents from SkyDrive Pro! The documents often shared using sync utilities like SkyDrive Pro are the most active documents because they are generally the ones you are working on.
  • Governance – There are plenty of blog entries about SharePoint governance, managed metadata and the like so I will not repeat the guidance here. Note these are important and will only help to improve the value you get out of your SharePoint deployment and teaming experiences.

A great resource to see some of these features in action is the discoversharepoint.com site. Where the SharePoint team has created customer references and videos of a number of these recommendations in action. – http://www.discoversharepoint.com/

Hopefully this helps you get the most out of SharePoint and reduces the number of application silos, and inactive document repositories in your organization!

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