Last week, I wrote about how we are going to shut down the now-dysfunctional shared folder structure we have had in operation since 1988. Of course, telling you via this blog was actually the easy part; telling the people using those shared folders, well that’s a different story. As soon as I declared the date (June 30) for the lockdown, my team started working on a strategy to ease the pain, and make the transition easier. My Systems Administrator seems to have hit a home run, finding another product from the folks at SharePointBoost. I wrote about these guys back in 2009, right after we installed their Batch Check-in product. Since then, we’ve added their List Transfer product and now we are taking a hard look at Classifier.
Here’s what I like about the product – In addition to
forcing encouraging people to move existing content into SharePoint, we are also suggesting requiring that the libraries they establish contain a minimal set of required metadata. We’re not trying to replicate the K: Drive, we’re trying to improve upon it. That means that for the valuable content that we need to preserve, the upload into SharePoint process becomes a challenging exercise. That’s why Classifier is so cool.
Since a person who understands the content can quickly identify documents that share common characteristics, they can select those documents, batch them and very quickly establish the common metadata. SharePointBoost has a wonderful selection of tutorials on their website, but here’s a quick illustration of what I just described.
I’ve selected five documents from a folder containing documents related to the AIIM New England Chapter. To make life easier, I selected all the minutes that were in the folder.
At this point, I can just check these all in, using the Batch Check-in features. If all the metadata is the same, I can chose to “bulk edit” the properties. In my case, most of the metadata is the same but there’s a description field that is unique, so I’m going to edit the files one-by-one.
As I edit the properties of the first document, I can instruct Classifier to keep the choices I make on that file and carry them forward to the rest. This means that all I have to do is edit the unique property of each document.
After I move through all five documents, voila!
Here’s what I like about this company – SharePoint add-on products can be expensive, but SharePointBoost does a great job of containing that cost. I particularly like the way they work with SMBs. Since we don’t have a ton of users, we can save money by buying a limited license as opposed to a Farm license (since we will never hit the limit). In addition, they reward previous customers instead of punishing them. One of the features of Classifier is the ability to check in all the documents that you are working with. We already own their Batch Check-in product, so they offered to discount the license fee for Classifier to reflect that prior ownership. I’m not naming names, but I know other companies that seem to ferret out every possible way that can force you to buy another license. Microsoft wants to charge me based on what I am doing, where I am doing it and what device I am using. Some scientists say we will never be able to invent the Heisenberg Compensator used in Star Trek to enable the Transporter to work around the laws of physics. I say that that technology will be an offshoot of software licensing.
IT likes market-driven solutions – One of the things that often happens after I write about buying an add-on product is that someone will point out way(s) that we could duplicate some or all of these features using out-of-the-box features, sometimes augmented by some code. We think about those solutions, but I like buying add-ons. No, I don’t like spending money, particularly when I think Microsoft should have included the feature in the base product, but I do like saving money. Designing, building, testing and maintain SharePoint solutions takes time, and we pay our employees for the time they spend doing those tasks. It doesn’t take very many hours before a fairly-priced product is cheaper to buy than it would be to build.
The combination in this case is win-win2. I win, because I’ve saved money and I am easing the pain of moving forward. Our employees win because they can save time completing the arduous task I’ve dumped on them. I win again because this lets me move the classification task completely into the user space. Finally, our employees win again because they will have well organized content. I think we need to buy this product.