Moving from a tree of folders in Outlook or Windows to SharePoint can feel like a big step backwards, especially if you are prompted for metadata every time you save a document or email.
In this blog post we explore how with SharePoint you can have the best of both worlds – intuitive drag and drop to a tree structure AND automatic capture of metadata for enhanced searching.
You have set up a tree of folders in a Windows shared drive or in Outlook. The tree structure mirrors a hierarchical classification scheme. To save and classify an email or a document you simply drag and drop it to the corresponding node in the tree. Nice and intuitive!
Your organisation decides to move to SharePoint, replacing Outlook and Windows folders as the way of managing documents and emails. Someone says that an advantage of SharePoint is that it can capture and record metadata, which is better than using folders because it enables flexible searching. Next thing you are being prompted for metadata every time you save a document or an email… the new SharePoint experience is nowhere near as easy or intuitive as the old tree-of-folders approach.
SharePoint does not have to be like that. Indeed, with SharePoint you can still save and classify by dragging and dropping to an intuitive tree structure, and without being prompted for metadata every time you save.
With SharePoint You Can Have the Best of Both Worlds
It is the case that folders in SharePoint are not the same as folders in Outlook or Windows, and you do need to be careful to avoid having deeply nested folders and very long folder names.
With SharePoint you can have the best of both worlds – i.e. the ability to save and classify by dragging and dropping to an intuitive tree structure AND at the same time automatic recording of metadata to enable searching as well as browsing across the saved documents and emails.
With SharePoint there are various ways to make metadata recording automatic, with the choice of technique depending on the number of metadata attributes that need to be recorded as each document or email is saved. If there is only one attribute to be recorded – e.g. Classification – then folder-level defaults are a good way to go. However if you would like to automatically record multiple attributes on each save, document sets may well be preferable to folders.
You can think of a SharePoint document sets as essentially a SharePoint Super Folder. Like a folder, a document set can contain a bunch of documents and / or emails. Products like MacroView Message and MacroView DMF let you save emails and documents by dragging and dropping them to a folder or to a document set. Users with normal permissions (i.e. non-administrator-level users) can easily create new folders or document sets. The key advantage of a document set over a folder is that multiple metadata attributes can be recorded automatically as you save a document or email. From a technical perspective, it is easier to provision automatic metadata for document sets than for folders.
For more information about best practice techniques for design of SharePoint to provide a great user experience when managing documents and emails see this MacroView Blog Post or contact MacroView Solutions.