Too Much Information? No, that’s the TMI Watson (at the right) was designed to deal with. We’re nuclear, so I’m talking about Three Mile Island, the site of the nuclear accident, and one of our insureds. Although the accident at Three Mile Island occurred over 30 years ago, there are still lessons that can be learned from the event. One of my coworkers is studying the event right now, and that led to a common request “can Joe have access to the engineering shared folders?” The short answer is “no” and that is why I hate shared folders a little more, each day that we have SharePoint.
The shared folders in question are permissioned through Active Directory (AD) and, specifically through membership in AD groups. The groups are used for other things, so making Joe a member of engineering is not a possibility. I could give Joe specific access to the folder in question, but it is 10 levels deep in a folder hierarchy that only an engineer could explain. Of course, I didn’t keep this job for over 20 years by saying “no”, so I suggested moving the content into SharePoint. This might seem like a simple solution, but I have learned that this is where you need to be careful. Simply moving a big mess of files into SharePoint might solve the immediate problem, but gains very little. I moved the files into SharePoint, but not until I went through the basic process for provisioning a Document Library, which involves some simple questions.
What are we moving into SharePoint? Is it a Content Type we already have defined somewhere? Is it a type of record we are already keeping in a controlled repository? Is it content that is similar to, related to, or worst case, duplicating material that has already been moved to SharePoint. This last question is important, because we have duplicates on our file shares. This information helps me decide whether or not to use an existing library, and if not, how to configure a new library.
Why are we keeping these files? What is the business purpose for keeping this information? Are these files related to, or do they directly support a portion of our operation? This information helps me decide whether I need to change the permission structure of an existing library, or where to put a new library.
Who is going to need access to these files? I need to know this in order to assign permissions, but more than that, I need to know whether or not I need to create new groups, new roles or new branches in our SharePoint hierarchy.
When, well of course, when do we need this is usually “now”. Combined with the other answers, I had a pretty good roadmap to follow. We had a large number of technical documents, engineering presentations, historic reference notes and a few video clips related to the accident, and the clean-up effort. We are keeping this content for the purposes of educating future employees on what is the most significant nuclear accident in the United States – some of our employees had not yet been born in 1979 when this accident occurred. Since this is general, albeit technical information, it should be available to all employees.
Armed with these simple answers, we decided to build a new library in the engineering Site Collection. This is where we store technical information, and it’s already available to all employees. In this case, I decided to retain the folder structure that we had on the share drive. Folders? Yes, I said folders. I have been trying to eliminate folders as we move content to SharePoint, but sometimes it makes sense to keep them. In this case, the folders were quite logically arranged, and the distribution of content in the folders was rigid. There wasn’t a lot of overlap between subjects, by that I mean there doesn’t seem to be many reasons to be viewing documents from different folders at the same time. The final and most important reason is that we may be asked to share this information with others in the future; I can retain the metadata value of the folders if I take them back out of SharePoint.
Of course, I could deal with all of this if I filtered on metadata columns, and since I own MetaVis, I could even update those columns automatically as I migrated the files in from the shared folders. In this case, it seemed that we were better served by having the content arranged as it was. I plan to meet with the owner of these files next week. If there is additional benefit that can be attained by adding metadata or using other SharePoint features, we will reorganize the library.