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Document Lifecycle Process Components

Managing document status and versioning as it moves through review and approval can be challenging. Our Document Lifecycle Process (DLP) solutions can help. From a technology perspective, our solutions take advantage of SharePoint's out-of-the-box features that are configured and optimized for DLP.

Our DLP modules are a series of interactive workflows and components which facilitate the authoring, identification, review, approval and archival of documents and records. These workflows have built in flexibility to route documents to the relevant reviewers and approvers based on document status and characteristics defined in the file plan. The document lifecycle process has a built in state model which manages document status. This allows users to know who is currently working on and the current status of any given document.

Getting Started...

Speak to one of our consultants to find out how we can help make your DLP project a success.

Content classification leads to a file plan. It's essentially a scheme for how documents should be organized. This can be done on paper, or in a hands-on session on a big whiteboard. We run many sessions like this. Think about documents in terms of:

  • Are they mainly grouped by project, by client, by date?
  • Who has permissions on what content and why?
  • How are related documents referenced, if at all?

Taking the time to complete this often complex and time-consuming task really helps later on when it comes to migrating content. Remember a new document management system will likely be in service for years, if not tens of years, so it is worth putting the man hours in at the beginning to get things organized.

SharePoint provides powerful metadata-tagging features. Documents can have all kinds of data and properties assigned to them:

  • Long form descriptions, using rich text
  • Reference numbers or IDs, often auto-generated
  • Data from dropdowns, including multiple choices and values pulled from other sources

Ensuring documents have the appropriate metadata applied has a number of benefits. It makes finding documents much simpler (either via search or navigation). It also makes identifying a document, without opening it, much more straight-forward. Good metadata can also go a long way to applying record management and retention policies, should your files require it.

Useful as it is, don't bite off more than you can chew with metadata. Each file doesn't need ten separate properties, and likely users simply won't fill in this many fields anyway. Balance the need for description with practical thought around usability.

User adoption, or change management, has some time-tested best practices for moving into document management. It doesn't work to dictate a new way of storing document unless you have buy-in from everyone.  We suggest:

  • Training: Do users need training on the new system? Do they need classroom sessions, or simply a visual guide to a new interface? Downtime costs money, so training can be a worthy investment.
  • Communication: You need to let users know a new system is coming. Send out emails, put up posters in communal areas, and advertise the benefits early and often. Give people practical dates if they need to complete certain activities in time. When a system goes live, set up advisors in a side room or employ 'floor walkers' for a few days to physically go and speak to people.
  • Phased deployment: Depending on the size of the project, you might want to phase rollout. Test the new system with a small team or department, rollout only part of the features, or run new and existing systems side-by-side for a while. Another good tip is to keep file shares where they are, but make them read only. This way no one panics they have lost files and are more gently introduced to the brave new world.

Our specialists in document management can help you implement SharePoint based document management in order to increase your company's efficiency.

Finding accurate information can be an employee's most time-consuming task, and once they have found the content they have to assume that it's up to date. But without robust document management in place, this can quite often be a nearly impossible goal.

Useful features:

  • Drag and drop: Users can now simply drag files to upload them to libraries.
  • Live document previews
  • Simple sharing:  It's now easy to see who an individual document is shared with, and add additional external users.
  • Versioning
  • Check-in/out

If used properly document libraries support an effective process and tool for maintaining and accessing a project's deliverables. A summary of best practices:

  • Central Source – The document library represents the single source for current project deliverables. Team members should be encouraged to provide visibility of work in process as soon as appropriate (rather than storing documents "offline" on their laptop).
  • Use of Metadata – Avoid using folders to organize the project deliverables. Define and create metadata that effectively describes and organizes your project deliverables. This approach streamlines the process of saving and locating project deliverables. This approach also creates a project environment that is much easier for new team members to get "up to speed."
  • Version Control – Ensure that team members appropriately utilize the version control features within SharePoint. The Check-out/Check-in function effectively controls the document update process, and captures information used to track version history. Team members should not save the document with a date or version number in the name of the file.

Integrated Digital Signatures

Documents and records can be digitally signed directly within the document, from a SharePoint library or within a SharePoint workflow tasks. These signatures can be used with mainstream document authoring software such as Adobe Acrobat, MS Word, and MS Excel as well as MS InfoPath forms.

Knowledge Management

A large majority of users within our customer organizations are intensive "knowledge users," often being in roles requiring deep specialist knowledge or access to knowledge in order to be able to carry out daily tasks.

What we use as a baseline definition is that anything that is derived through experience or research which may have value for reuse goes into the "knowledge bucket." We have built a reusable Wiki based system that can contain text images and video. It's designed to scale for many different "knowledge buckets". Please see this solution.

For organizations that are already committed to SharePoint as their preferred portal technology, it makes a lot of sense to build a blended document and knowledge management system.

Knowledge Management Example 

We will typically advise that a KMS project follows a SimplePortals "KM accelerator" approach. The advantages are:

  • Well established approach to discovery and planning
  • Leveraging SharePoint out-of-the-box functionality as far as possible
  • Phased approach (Prototype, Pilot, Release 1) to reduce complexity and risk at defined milestone, while getting feedback at appropriate points

A successful project is achieved by paying serious attention to the initial Discovery and Planning stage. During this stage, the two single most important activities are:

  • Information Architecture design and planning
  • Taxonomy / classification / tagging strategy

Other activities during this stage include exploring the current state, existing knowledge assets, asset transformation, migration, functional scope and much more.

How SimplePortals can help

Our KM approach is cost effective and requires little customization, therefore greatly reducing the risk of failure and budget overrun. Contact us today to find out more.

Organizations should routinely delete unnecessary information -- but they don't.

There is too much fear and uncertainty. As a result, they save everything even if it's ROT (redundant, obsolete and trivial). That's costly for business.

With SharePoint Server 2013, policies are enforced both on the server and in the client applications. This is done transparently; policy features that apply to a document are described in a policy statement that is associated with the document, and policy-aware applications prevent users from doing tasks that violate the document's policy.

You can associate a policy with a library, list, or content type in the following ways:

  • Associate policy features with a Site Collection policy and then associate that policy with a content type or with a list or library. The top-level site of a site collection includes a Site Collection Policies gallery where administrators of the top-level site can create new policies. After creating a Site Collection policy, you can export it so that administrators of other site collections can import it into their Site Collection Policies galleries. This lets you standardize policies across your organization.
  • When a Site Collection policy is associated with a content type and that content type is associated with a list or library, the owner of the list or library cannot modify the Site Collection policy in the list or library. This ensures that policies that are assigned to a content type are enforced at each level of the site hierarchy.
  • Associate a set of policy features directly with a content type, and then add that content type to one or more lists or libraries. To ensure that a policy that is created by using this method will be used in the whole site collection, associate it with a content type in the Site Content Type gallery of the top-level site collection. Then every item of that content type in the site collection and every item of a content type that inherits from the original content type will have the policy. When you use this method of associating a policy with a content type, it is harder to reuse the policy in other site collections, because policies created by using this method cannot be exported.
  • Retention The Retention policy feature lets you define retention stages, with an action that happens at the end of each stage. For example, you could define a two-stage retention policy on all documents in a specific library that deletes all previous versions of the document one year after the document is created, and declares the document to be a record five years after the document is created.

The actions that can occur at the end of a stage include the following:

  • Moving the item to the Recycle Bin
  • Permanently deleting the item
  • Transferring the item to another location
  • Starting a workflow
  • Skipping to the next stage
  • Declaring the item to be a record
  • Deleting all previous drafts of the item
  • Deleting all previous versions of the item
  • Auditing The Auditing policy feature logs events and operations that are performed on documents and list items. You can configure Auditing to log events such as the following:
    • Editing a document or item
    • Viewing a document or item
    • Checking a document in or out
    • Changing the permissions for a document or item
    • Deleting a document or item
  • Labeling The Labeling policy feature specifies a label to associate with a type of document or list item. Labels are searchable text areas that SharePoint Server 2013 generates based on properties and formatting that you specify. For example, in a law firm, a document related to a legal matter could include a label that contains the clients' names, the case number, and the attorney assigned to the matter. Labels are especially useful in printed versions of documents as a way to display document properties in printed copy. Along with using labels for documents, you can associate a label with a list item and include that label in views of the list.
SharePoint Automated Document AssemblyUsing a combination of forms, validation, and workflows can generate documents.  With unparalleled accuracy and efficiency.

Records CenterSharePoint Records Center

SharePoint has a built-in records management feature which can be configured to organize final records into meaningful document libraries. It is possible to apply retention and information management policies to records based on content type and in line with SOPs and regulatory requirements. Strict security is applied to the records management SharePoint site to ensure that records cannot be modified or deleted. 

What is a Record?
  • Document
  • Email
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Database (i.e. key card access)
  • Server logs
  • Past, Present and/or Future
SharePoint Management Elements
  • MMS
  • Content Types
  • Administration
  • Records Center
  • Routing web part
  • In Place Records
  • Information Policies
  • Event Handlers & Workflows

Document Check Out/In & Versioning
SharePoint Document Check Out/In

SharePoint Topic Drilldown

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