In 2006, when we had someone come in and stand up a SharePoint 2003 server, the question was: “will this make any sense for our business?” In 2010, when we had spent quite a lot of money on SharePoint, the question became: “when will the isolated success stories lead to wide adoption?” By the end of 2012, the question was rapidly becoming: “will my small team be able to support the work that people want us to do in SharePoint?” We made it through the first two questions, and we seem to be handling the third one pretty well. The question I am anticipating is: “are we abusing SharePoint?”
Our concern from the moment when we first looked at SharePoint was that someday, certainly not while we were running SP 2003, but someday SharePoint would become a web-based share drive. We have worked hard to avoid and prevent that from happening. We (Information Services) held the reins pretty tightly so that we knew what SharePoint was being used to accomplish. We have participated in almost every design and development effort. We have held education sessions on SharePoint, on Content Management, on Records Management, on Security and on the broad best practices of Information Management. I have littered peoples’ inboxes, real and virtual, with AIIM white papers and I have dragged key people to AIIM New England Chapter events. Still, I’ve worried that in the heat of the moment, when one of my coworkers has a file they want to download or an attachment to an email they just received, SharePoint will be the easiest place to dump it.
That fear didn’t stop us from announcing that the K: Drive will become a read-only repository at the end of June. That fear won’t stop us from following through on that initiative. That fear didn’t stop us from purchasing and installing Harmon.ie on desktops and iPads throughout our “enterprise” even though that product makes it oh so easy to move email into SharePoint. That fear hasn’t stopped us from starting SharePoint project after SharePoint project so far in 2013. The fear of everyday SharePoint becoming the dumping ground du jour hasn’t stopped us, but it hasn’t budged from our minds either, and it is affecting some of our decisions. For example:
We will be installing new multi-function copiers in about a month that have a pretty sweet scan-to-SharePoint feature. We will not be making the default scan destination a person’s MySite. No, we will dump the scanned copies of receipts, tax forms and all the other miscellaneous paper that people need to make digital onto their desktops. If they want it in SharePoint, they will have to move it there. We will enable support for the content types we need them to backfill from file cabinets, so that paper can head to the right library and get the right metadata, but no junk – SharePoint is for content.
When we educate people on the use of the new copiers, we will include a section, loosely titled “do you really need to keep that?” This is a multi-fold effort to get people to stop keeping, printing and storing stuff on our network.
We are requiring that every bit of content moving into SharePoint contain at least one bit of required metadata, and that each item has a specific place to go. We are not going to let “Share Documents” become overused. In some cases, we may not even let that Library remain on the site.
We will also monitor usage and work with people to avoid problems before they become a mountain of documents that we don’t have time to review.
These are essential steps to insure the continuing success of SharePoint. The problem has never been technology, the problem is the content that we think we have to keep, but we don’t really know why. SharePoint is a much better ally in that battle than the K: drive ever was, but it can’t do the job without our help.