The IT industry - like any other - is saturated with acronyms and abbreviations, which often give us little understanding as to what is implied. One of the most popular in our world is CMS, which stands for Content Management System. A CMS is a system that allows a set of users to publish, edit and alter content. Many such systems also provide procedures to manage workflows in a collaborative environment.
That term “collaborative environment” is heavily used in the SharePoint & Office 365 market. And for good reason too, since these platforms provide all the flexibility you need to make it easy for your employees to collaborate on a project or document.
But this flexibility has a cost. There are some tips & tricks that you must know to get the most out of SharePoint and Office 365. In this blog post, we will look at how SharePoint content management can make your life a little bit easier.
There are lots of useful and unique features that we can discuss but we think that these six in particular are important:
1. Asset Library
SharePoint professionals, extolling the virtues of the product, will tell you that it offers many advantages over network shares. And that journey typically begins with Document Libraries. An Asset library is a specifically modified library that is intended to help users manage media assets, such as audio, images and videos. This library has several unique features available to it:
- Digital content types designed specifically for media files, which offer more metadata features than normal doc libraries
- Thumbnail views for quick browsing of assets
- Automatic extraction of metadata for typical internet image formats
Although these benefits might appear pretty simple, they do help solve problems that plagued earlier versions of SharePoint, which provided no easy way of working with audio or video.
2. Content Organizer
Media types aren’t the only assets to secure their own special document libraries. SharePoint provides content authors with a feature known as the content organizer. This allows authors to automatically route content to the appropriate location with a set of routing rules and a drop off library. The drop off library will then apply your specified rules and move items to the correct place.
This feature is also advanced enough to help you monitor file sizes and duplicate submissions and altogether helps to remove the twin issues of content duplication and end-user confusion as to where they should place their content.
3. Managed Metadata Service
Managed Metadata is a subject worthy of a blog post on its own but the service is well worth a mention here. Metadata is commonly known as “data about data.” Look at any item within SharePoint for the author and timestamps and you’ll see an example of what metadata is. The managed metadata service allows you to define and apply both formal metadata (called taxonomy) and a more informal one. The advantage of maintaining these centrally is to allow for consistent application of terms across sites, better search experiences and of course…
4. Metadata-driven navigation
This feature can be activated on large scale lists and libraries and helps to ease the burden of slowly, and painstakingly searching through them. When activated, this feature grafts a navigation tree onto the left hand side of the list, which is dynamically filtered according to what is selected. It is also possible to apply Key Filters, which work in combination with the navigation tree to refine the list of items that are visible.
These filters provide a useful and practical alternative to trying to search through a specific list from the main search interface or via the search web parts. These facilities provide an “in-place” search facility that should both visually and functionally appeal to end users.
5. Records Management
In some industries, where compliance and record retention are important, you can take advantage of SharePoint’s record management capabilities. Typically, this is done in a record centre. An alternative that SharePoint provides is to allow “in-place” record management, which can be activated on any list or library within the platform.
This allows certain SharePoint documents (or blogs, wikis, web pages, and list items) to be declared records and protected. Both forms of record protection make Auditing, Retention, Expiration, Reporting, Records Workflows, eDiscovery, and Legal Hold options available to those with sufficient rights.
6. Shared content types
, when introduced in SharePoint 2007 were an impressive addition to the platform. They allowed users to define collections of documents and columns into templates that could be deployed against both lists and libraries. The one downside however is that they weren’t sharable across site collections.
This is now achievable. To share content types among site collections, a user can nominate a content type gallery as a “hub” of a managed metadata service. They can then create connections to the service from each web application that contains a site collection, and subsequently specify that they should use the content types in the service.
A significant win
Although there are more advanced features for SharePoint content management (such as preservation holds, PowerPoint Automation services and so on), we feel the items mentioned above are worth getting to know first. The bulk of them began life in SharePoint 2010 and continue to be useful in SharePoint 2013.
Each of these features enables stellar SharePoint content management, and combined they are even more powerful. SharePoint is essentially allowing you to automate where content is moved and routed too, while also catering for pluralized file types and search requirements without burdening end users with too much to remember… we’d certainly hail that as a significant win.