Principles for managing documents as records in SharePoint 2010

These are my quick tips for managing documents as records using SharePoint 2010.

Keep it simple 

  • End users will not use the system if it is hard to use or requires too much extra work. Keep the UI clean and simple (and common). Make it intuitive.

Promote the benefits of the application, not the application

  • Users want to know what’s in it for them, how it will make their lives more simple, not what they HAVE to do or HOW they have to do it. Sell the benefits and, if it’s intuitive enough, the system will sell itself. Benefits include document IDs, versioning, hyperlinks, single source of truth, access controls.

Create a repeatable deployment model

  • A repeatable deployment model is easier to manage and maintain consistency across the farm.

Create and maintain re-useable metadata

  • Use the managed metadata service to establish and use common metadata terms.

Establish a common model, minimise customisation

  • Common models mean common user experiences and better take up. Customisation is a yoke that should be resisted as much as it is tempting.

Use the application as it was intended to be used

  • Documents are commonly stored at the bottom of a team site hierarchy, in libraries and maybe in document sets. Understand (and convey to users) that SP folders aren’t the same as network drive or email folders.

Paper based ways of doing things don’t always convert into electronic ways

  • Look carefully at ways to change or enhance the process. For example, a spreadsheet could become a list with a form.

Performance is a killer

  • Make sure the system is architected to maximise performance. Slow loading pages will kill the user experience.

Respond quickly

  • If there is a problem address it as quickly as possible. If there is a bug or a problem with the application/UI, fix it quickly.
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