My life was once filled with fancy server-side scripts, but now I'm just another SharePoint consultant.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I missed the point with ECM in SharePoint

I've read in the recent blogosphere where SharePoint is utilized mainly as a replacement for a file server. Of course, SharePoint is so many things... It stores your documents, it makes a sandwich. I think it's okay for it to start as a file server replacement, a modest start to building a true Enterprise Content Management system... Other SharePoint features should grab hold over time.

I'm the key SharePoint huckster in my academic organization. I've been selling the OOB Document Library as if it were the second coming. A list posted on the bulletin board behind my desk reminds me of the doclib advantages. I'll go through what I have, dismiss each point, and note a huge advantage I forgot below:

Versioning: You can almost get the same thing by enabling "Track Changes" in Word. Also, our backup plan has "versions" of docs for the last 2 weeks.

Document Check-out: Over the file server, you can't open a file that's locked for editing. Do you really want to know who has the doc open on their desktop? It's probably Johnson...

Meta-Tagging: I have the least to say about this, because, honestly, I don't understand it. My best guess it that it's available search metrics for a file... Stuff about a file in the columns of a doclib.

Alerts: Some love 'em, some hate them... In an organization that is communicative and transparent, you're going to care less when a new version of a doc has changed or docs added...

Workflows: Yes! Another way to be ignored by your superiors, especially with the OOB Approval flows. I have yet to see collect feedback work... People just filter email from SharePoint into the trash.

Search: I love SharePoint search, and its spidering process rocks out... Why have multiple desktop search processes running, if everything is stored in SharePoint? Of course, not everything is stored in SharePoint and the Search does not spider workstation drives, where most content lurks, waiting for a hard drive failure.

Okay, now the single greatest tool within SharePoint, that makes it an Enterprise Content Management system vs. just a file server replacement. The tool I know little about and promise to learn everything there is to know about from this day forward as long as I live.

*drum roll*

Information Management Policies, specifically, EXPIRATION.

I look on my workstation, my third over 4 years in my current employer. I look at My Docs, and I can see a time capsule of data files going back to day one. All of it is, without doubt, worthless... Since my workstation's hard disk space is cheap, I keep this stuff around. Who knows, I might need that doc that explains how to move mail from Eudora to an Exchange account.

Expiration: "Automatic scheduling of content for processing, and expiry of content that has reached its due date." Published by Microsoft Availability: Available

I can't wait to expire something!

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Chicago, Illinois, United States