Keep SharePoint working for your business | Michael Clark

Companies pay premium rates to have SharePoint installed only to discover their staff continues to use it as a glorified shared drive. So, how do you stop SharePoint from becoming a free for all?

Allowing users to use SharePoint without control raises problems around folders because they create:

  • new multiple folders with obscure titles
  • folders which remain empty
  • which eventually leads to complaints that users have lost their documentation.

In other words, the users created folders that remain empty because they cannot remember:

  • where they placed the folder
  • the title of the folder, or
  • no one writes the documentation

What is the problem when users create multiple folders?

  • You cannot navigate through multiple folders in SharePoint
  • A hierarchy of folders means some users will give up searching after drilling down through multiple folders to find a set or a single document
  • Creating multiple nested folders can quickly hit the maximum number of characters (255) for the URL.

Streamline SharePoint with library names that are meaningful

Create a new site name and library name and delete any out of the box “Shared Documents” libraries (don’t just edit the name).

Note: When creating any list or library for the first time, keep the name short. You can later edit the title for display in the breadcrumbs. The symbol [%20] will not appear in the URL whenever space is used in the name.

Use the library description field

Describe precisely the purpose of the library.

  • Is it restricted to a particular group of users?
  • What types of files should the library contain?

Example description: “This library stores ITIL procedures. Contact the infrastructure team for advice.”

  • use Metadata categorisation to simplify navigation making it easier for users to navigate multiple document libraries, RATHER than multiple folders.
  • Expanding categories to display contents makes it easier for users to see the document content. The Proper terminology for the types also helps simplify search.
  • It is not easy to rearrange a library with multiple folders due to growth or changes to business processes, so the planning and categorisation of uploaded documents can help minimise time “rearranging” files for long-term planning.

User Adoption Tip: Through Customisation, restrict or remove the user’s ability to create new folders. Remove the Explorer view else users can still create folders.

If you need to have one library containing different levels of permissions, then you can set permissions on a folder. Although you can set permissions at the document level, it creates many other challenges in managing security and is best avoided whenever possible.

Enable versioning and history on official and formal libraries

  • The check-in/check-out capability of SharePoint helps users manage documents and prevent users from altering checked out documents.
  • When a document is checked in, SharePoint gives the option to create either a major or a minor version of the document.
  • Version history outlines modifications and who modified it.
  • Using major and minor versioning helps users identify a new published major version
  • Consider displaying the version in the view as well as the last modified date, modified by, and checked out by for user convenience.

Place a limit on major and minor versions to optimise storage space

  • Each time you save a version of a document, it creates a copy.
  • Setting proper version control can optimise your disk storage space.
  • Set-Up version control that saves the versions you need

Example settings: Keep major versions and the three most recent minor versions OR keep the five most recent major versions, and all minor versions of the final major version.

Ensure the content owner of a site has the capabilities to change library settings

Each SharePoint site should have a Site Owner and a Content Owner. Grant the Content Owner the permissions to change all the settings on the library, except for permissions to eliminate contacting the Site owner every time they need to make a change (build a new view, alter metadata, etc.). In the absence of a compelling need, there is no reason to give them full Site permissions; however, to promote an efficient work environment they should be able to manage their changes within the library settings.

Manage security at the site level when possible

Where possible, permissions should be the same for all content on a site. SharePoint allows you to have different permissions on each list/library and even different permissions at the item/document level. Unless you have a 3rd party solution to help you manage permissions, this will become unruly very quickly.

If you need to restrict access to a few documents, create a folder with permissions, which works if the document tags are the same. Once again, this is an exception, not a rule!

If the documents need different tagging, create a new library with the required tags and permissions. Ensure that the library description states the restrictions. If you need more lists to go along with the library such as a task list, issues list, etc., then you would consider a new site. 

  • Limit each Library View to 1,000 Documents to Optimise Page-load Time
  • Enable Content Approval only on the Libraries that genuinely need it.

When you place content approval on a library, any changes to the existing documents or recently uploaded documents will not be displayed to the group until they are approved. The ability to see changes in real-time are therefore limited. TO maintain an active area of collaboration DO NOT turn on Content Approval.

Use Content Approval for Public Libraries where a variety of users have access to posting documents, where the accuracy of documents is vital for public consumption. An example of a library that may need Content Approval is an HR Policies library.

Designate ownership

Designate a document controller who can control the documentation loaded into SP

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