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SharePoint 2010: Much more than document sharing

Is your company just using SharePoint 2010 for document sharing? Check out some of the features you may be missing out on and make the most of your investment.

It surprises me how many organizations use SharePoint 2010 only as an alternative to a file server. And while SharePoint 2010 is very useful for document sharing, it costs much more than a file server. Therefore, you should attempt to capitalize on your investment wherever possible.

Let’s look at some of the ways to take advantage of SharePoint 2010's other capabilities beyond document sharing without any major restructuring.

Create multiple SharePoint 2010 document libraries
Among other things, companies can use SharePoint to create multiple document libraries. Each library can have a different purpose and set of permissions. For example, a company can have one library for end-user documents and another that contains copies of all company and employee-related forms. Special-purpose libraries can make it easier for users to find specific documents when they need them.

Document versioning in SharePoint 2010
Document versioning lets you track how documents evolve. SharePoint 2010 provides three different versioning options:

    1. No Versioning. Depending on which SharePoint template you’re using, No Versioning is usually a document library’s default configuration. This means that the current version of a document is the only version SharePoint 2010 has on file.

    2. Create Major Versions. When this option is enabled, SharePoint 2010 updates the document’s version number each time the document is modified. More importantly, SharePoint lets you decide how many previous versions of a document are retained. This allows users to retrieve old versions of a document if necessary.

    3. Create Major and Minor Versions. This is similar to Create Major Versions, but this option enables users to save a document as a minor version (a draft of the document) or a major version (a document that is ready for publishing).

You can also set separate permissions and retention policies for major and minor document versions. For example, you can set a policy stating that end users can read major versions of a document, but only the creator can access minor versions.

Document indexing in SharePoint 2010
One of the main advantages to using SharePoint 2010 for document storage is that SharePoint offers powerful search and indexing capabilities that make it simple for users to find the documents they’re looking for.

SharePoint’s search and indexing capabilities have come a long way since SharePoint 2003. Not only can you create multiple index servers, but you can also divide the indexes into separate partitions. By partitioning your indexes, you help ensure that users receive relevant search results.

Document workflows in SharePoint 2010
Document workflows make certain that documents are managed in a way that adheres to your corporate policies. For example, let’s assume that your company requires the legal department to review all press releases before they're published. You can create a workflow that automatically routes documents to your legal counsel for approval before the document is released. It’s even possible to track a document’s progress through workflow and send automatic reminders if someone fails to act on a document in a timely manner.

Exchange public folders
Microsoft has been warning for years that Exchange public folders will be done away with, and it recommends migrating Exchange public folder data to SharePoint. This makes public folder data easier to find and takes a load off Exchange servers.

If you need to move a lot of public folder data, I recommend the Public Folder Migrator for SharePoint from Quest Software. For smaller deployments, you can manually move public folder data to SharePoint.

Site creation in SharePoint 2010
Another way to take advantage of SharePoint is to let users create project-related SharePoint sites. A site can contain a project calendar, a contact list for those involved in the project and even a document library that houses project-related documents.

These are just some SharePoint features that are useful and easy to implement. Remember that this is not a comprehensive list of SharePoint 2010’s capabilities. SharePoint is an incredibly flexible product with thousands of features. Its potential uses are limited only by your own technical skills and imagination.

Brien Posey is an eight-time Microsoft MVP with two decades of IT experience. Before becoming a freelance technical writer, Brien worked as a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the nation’s largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox.

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