We are all guilty of this – we look at a new software, service, technology, whatever it may be, and we think “this will solve all of my problems!” We’re holding our technology to a higher standard because it has the capability to deliver those solutions, but as of now, we are the ones that have to get it there.
Take SharePoint for example. I fell into the same trap. I thought – how nice, I can move off of a local server and into the illusive cloud! I can access my files anywhere! I can collaborate, have version control, and do more with my time!
While all of those benefits are real possibilities, I still have to be a steward of my system in order to make sure we, as a business, are able to cash in on those metaphoric unicorn coupons.
So, if you’re thinking about moving to SharePoint, and more importantly, you’re thinking it will solve all of your problems, ask yourself these 5 questions to make sure you don’t let yourself down:
1) Are my files organized?
Garbage in is garbage out. My worst folder is my photos folder. I just dump them all in there (especially now that they auto upload from my phone). I end up with ‘catch all’ folders that are so cumbersome to maneuver that I actually don’t go back for anything because it’s too daunting. The best way to tackle this is to sit down and map out the folders you need, in the order you need them. I like to lead my folder names with 01, 02, 03 and mirror the structure across all of my systems (files, emails, etc.) so I always know that 01 is my Design folder and that’s where I go for art files. If you have more complex filing needs, such as copious amounts of client agreements, or legal documentation, come up with a naming system for the folders a la Dewey Decimal that will help you find things quickly. For example:
- 01 Clients
- 101 Contracts
- A001 Apple
- B001 Branns
- C001 Canon
- C002 Coca-Cola
- 201 RFPs
- 101 Contracts
Whatever you do, avoid folders that are too general to prevent too many files from cluttering it up.
2) Do I need everything I have? (Also known as: The Purge)
This is so tedious, but so worth it. Now that we live in an age where Terabytes are the new Megabyte, it can encourage you to hoard “data” for longer than needed. Those meeting minutes from 2002? Dump them. You’re never going to go back and read those. Keep what’s actually important, and maybe a few funny design snafus from the past, and then purge the rest. If you’re too attached to delete it right away, create an Archive folder that you save for 2 months, then delete when you’ve realized you don’t need anything in there. Pro Tip: I like to put these folders with a zz_ at the beginning so they hit the bottom of my list.
3) Are my devices compatible?
Microsoft and Apple rarely play nice, so if you’re working in a multiple operating system environment, check the compatibility before committing to a new solution. Previous versions of SharePoint/Office do have connectors, but the latest 365 release has yet to work harmoniously with Mac.
4) What are the access points?
SharePoint is great because you can access it both ‘locally’ and ‘online.’ That means if I am on my personal computer and away, but need a file, I can log in and grab what I need, but I can also access it just like any other file on my normal work computer. Knowing the application of each of these access points will help you make a better decision about how to train your staff to use the new file system on the go.
5) Do I need to create special permissions, views, etc. for my team?
I have seen some pretty cool team sites on SharePoint that feature photo libraries, document libraries, banners, and more. I have also seen some very utilitarian SharePoint environments that look just like the normal folders on your computer. It really is what you make of it – so figure out what you want to get out of it ahead of your implementation. Do you need to restrict access to certain files? Do you need to create special views or landing pages? Map out what you need and come up with a plan to roll it all out so that you are not scrambling for functionality the day you want to go live.
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