A couple of weeks ago, we started working on a new site where we plan to build a comprehensive solution for creating, revising and storing official business documents. To jog your memory and to reduce the actual number of words I have to write during the summer, the site will include:
A sub site to support collaboration on documents. This will have libraries where lawyers and other experts will store everything they encounter and use during the draft and review process, as well as lists and calendars to aid the process.
A document library in the Official Business Documents site where they will store the final version, or perhaps the major versions of deliverable documents, as well as all the supporting documents they feel are relevant in a Document Set.
A records library in which a workflow will create a PDF copy of the final deliverable document.
In subsequent discussions, we focused our attention on the collaboration sub-site and the closer we examined that concept, the more we liked it. Here are three of the things that are making us happy:
Anybody can work there – The problem with “official” documents is that sometimes people might have input to the creation process but not access to the final product. If that doesn’t make sense, I could tell you about the number of times I’ve been asked to contribute a graphic, fix a graphic, replace a graphic or set a graphic into Word without repaginating the document. I have been asked to do these things in documents that I don’t use, should not be able to edit, delete or send. That last bit is getting a little more attention this summer. Sure there are ways to enforce policies and auditing, but the easiest way to enforce security is to lock me out. I can participate in the collaborative site but once the documents are moved into the library, I don’t have access – simple.
Metadata is hard – OK, we know that it really isn’t, but some people think that setting metadata is a task akin to peeling potatoes. Yes, it has to be done. Yes, there are tools to help. No, I really don’t want to do it. In the collaborative site, we don’t need metadata, or we don’t need as much as we might have in the library. That’s good, because we will probably have more documents in the collaborative site than we will retain in the library.
This is where I have to quote my good friend Steve Weissman of the Holly Group. Steve is fond of pointing out the times when: “it’s not technology, it’s psychology!” Maybe he puts that the other way round, and if the quote isn’t grammatically correct, it’s my fault not Steve’s – my memory isn’t any better with grammar than my working brain is.
Delete before moving – When the work is done, the owner of these documents and all the supporting material has to decide what to keep and what to discard. In working with one of the owners during design, he said: “the fact that I have to move these into another library and set the required metadata will be an incentive to only keep what I really need.” He added that if he were leaving the files in the working directory, “I’d just keep everything.”
“I’d just keep everything”
That’s how we ended up with 75,000 documents on our K: drive. I am liking this psychology stuff more and more.