Document Workshops

My workshop looks a lot like my father’s workshop did including one of the things I used to think was crazy – duplicate tools right where you need them. Next to every power tool is a small rack with all the tools necessary to setup and adjust that tool. Waste of money? Not really, the “tools” are usually Allen wrenches and screw drivers, nothing exotic. Time saver? Oh yeah, big time – sometimes, proximity rules. I think we can extend this idea to ECM and I know we can implement it in SharePoint.

When we decided to use SharePoint for ECM, we thought that meant moving content from file shares to SharePoint. One look at those files shares told me that was a mistake and attending AIIM’s ECM Master Class taught me why. The next step was to understand why people like those network shares and I think proximity is the reason. Simply put, people feel, and may actually be more productive when everything is close at hand. The typical shared folder might have upwards of a 50:1 ratio of files of questionable long-term value and true company records but, for each record, somebody created the other 49 files. They might be agendas, presentations, pictures for presentations, etc. but chances are they had value during the construction of those company records.

We need two spaces, a productive place to build things you want to keep, and a safe secure place to keep them. SharePoint can provide both. File shares offer neither; they aren’t safe and they aren’t useful places to work. File shares, in conjunction with your desktop is like working in your driveway with tools and material stored in the trunk of your car.

What goes into a Document Workshop? Well, the first thing would be the raw materials. In the case of documents, that would be templates. Sure, you can tie templates to Content Types but that might be overkill – this is a workshop, not an assembly line. I like attaching templates to a Custom List item that explains the purpose of the template. The other thing we might put in that list is instructions to help a new person create this type of document. Then we put up a list of contacts but not just the people on the project team; we include the people the team might need to reach out to for advice and help. We are also finding that interactive parts like discussions and wikis are useful for exploring ideas and developing content.

Next week, I will share an example of one of these sites.