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Five tips to improve SharePoint doc management

For small companies that can't afford document management software, SharePoint may be the way to go. Expert Bill English provides a checklist of top tips for building document management in SharePoint.

McLEAN, VA. -- Although many large corporations have complex and expensive document management software, IT shops in small to medium-sized businesses are considering using SharePoint to get similar capabilities.

At the Best Practices SharePoint Conference here last month, SharePoint expert Bill English said most companies with 1,000 to 5,000 end users have no document management system and, for such companies, the current Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 version is a good option for getting started.

Bill English

English is founder and an instructor at Mindsharp, the SharePoint event host and Minneapolis-based company that specializes in SharePoint training. He defines document management as the process of applying policies and rules to how documents are created, persisted, hosted and then expired within an organization. Here English shares five important tips for using SharePoint as a document management platform:

  • Most important, English said, is to define a document's lifecycle. This includes determining where a document will be incubated, what metadata will be in the document, who owns the document and when it should expire, among a number of other important details -- all throughout its lifecycle.
  • Be cautious of how you bestow access permissions to individual site administrators. Not every site administrator should be privy to all corporate information. With that in mind, when there is a different relationship between a document's security, security nodes and site collection ownership, you need a different site collection. A site collection is a group of sites built on SharePoint that exist under a top-level site. Individuals have permission rights for sites and content within a site collection.
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    "There are still people out there who think you need only one site collection, but it's not true," English said.
  • Match the findability architecture with the metadata that is applied to the document. If people are going to find a document using the Advanced Search Web Part tool, the document's metadata needs to be exposed to that tool. If you know that a document is in a particular department, with a particular security clearance and the author's name and the topic, it's more easily found in the Advanced Search Web Part than in simple search. But other methods of finding the document are helpful too. Pairing up how a document is described with the findability tools is imperative to helping achieve a fully functioning collaboration system.

  • Make sure IT managers set the document library security settings before the document is put into the library. Some document library security settings are applied to the document when it is created and uploaded. The settings can't be changed on documents that exist in the library. "Understand and know what security settings you want in your library settings," he said.
  • If you are doing bulk imports of documents, turn versioning off. Turn versioning on after documents are in the library. Otherwise, you will have to go through each document and check it in manually.

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