4 Important Content Management Tips Before Using SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online is among the top choices of organizations for content management system. Content management means to create, publish, and supervise all your content within your organization. Microsoft’s SharePoint Online enables users to access internal files, folders, documents, and other important information needed for virtual collaboration.

You can experience SharePoint service by availing yourself of these plans: Office 365 Business Essentials or Business Premium; Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, or E5; SharePoint Online Plan 1 or 2; and Office 365 Enterprise F1.

Migrating thousands of files from your server to cloud (which SharePoint has) is complicated, so you’ll probably need help from experienced SharePoint Online developers. If you use Microsoft’s SharePoint Online, you can manage who can access your content privately and publicly.

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In this article, we will specifically talk about the things that you must consider before transferring or migrating documents or files from your current setup to SharePoint Online. This is to avoid further mistakes and frustration on maneuvering deep folder structures in SharePoint.

Consider the following pointers before you use Microsoft’s SharePoint Online in managing all your content.

Don’t Migrate Everything

Keep all your files even after migration or transfer. You might need your original documents in the future. This is also helpful if you’re just testing SharePoint functionalities. For a hassle-free experience, we suggest that you only migrate documents that are needed and are always used by your employees or team members.

For example, migrate to SharePoint your updated documents on company policies, forms on leave requisitions, training materials, and more. Remember that SharePoint Online manages your content and that includes keeping track of all the activities made in all your files. If a file has multiple versions, please migrate only the latest version. You don’t want to confuse fellow workers on important documents.

Don’t even try storing documents that are decades old; you don’t need them anyway. Plus, retention policies prevent you from keeping old files. We’ll discuss this more below. Anyway, if someone else does, share the copy from your original storage system either on email or on SharePoint Online, but make sure you tag them as read-only documents. The point is that you only transfer to SharePoint current files.

Change How You Organize Files

Before you create folder hierarchy, please sort and filter all your files. These ways will help you organize which files to put in what folder. It can also help if you create a written document that shows your folder hierarchy.

The document serves as a guide for you and SharePoint Online developers as preparation for file migration. Microsoft suggests these ways in organizing your files: storing many documents in one library, creating multiple libraries, adding a column to a library, creating a view to see the files that are most important to you, and creating a folder in a library. Organizing files depends on the needs of the company. How do you want to organize your files?

Since you’re considering using SharePoint for storing your files in cloud, we suggest that you set security at the site level because it’s considered as the best practice. There are ongoing arguments regarding security of information when using Microsoft SharePoint.

According to Microsoft, their engineers administer SharePoint Online and OneDrive using a Windows PowerShell console that needs two-factor authentication. The company also immediately responds to new situations because they run workflows daily. Microsoft also assures SharePoint users that no engineer has standing access to the service.

We also suggest that you build cross-functional groups for your departments like the Human Resources, IT, Finance, and the like. One way to do this is to create project sites. You can also set up an improved search page so that your employees or other SharePoint users in your company can simply put in keywords on documents or files that they need. This will save time in searching for documents inside multiple folders.

Consider Large Lists, Libraries

Although SharePoint Online offers a cloud-based service, it still has limitation when it comes to storage. If you acquired SharePoint from the plans we mentioned at the beginning of this article, you must know that each plan has different storage limits. For example, Office 365 Business Essentials or Business Premium, the storage capacity is 1 TB per organization plus 10 GB per license purchased. For site collections storage, the said plans only allow you to use up to 25 TB.

Microsoft suggests different ways in managing large lists and libraries in SharePoint using online and server. For SharePoint Online, you are allowed to store up to 30 million items or files in a list or library. Take note that when a list view shows more than 5,000 items, you can use modern experience or add indexes.

The modern experience is the best choice for views that show many items. This is also a good strategy to avoid mistakes that you might see in the classic experience. If you don’t like the modern experience, you can always switch your experience from modern to classic.

You can also add indexes when you see an error message after you filter by a column that doesn’t have an index. Indexes are automatically created when saved views have columns used for sorting or filtering and when sorting in the modern experience. Just remember that automatic index creation when sorting in the modern experience is limited to libraries and lists that have less than 20,000 files.

Another way of managing your lists and libraries is by double-checking the list view options.

Some list view options may prevent list views with over 5,000 items from displaying. When you encounter this, just remember these: sort by only one column at a time; don’t sort by people, lookup, or managed metadata columns; don’t group by; don’t add totals like count, sum, and average; and don’t show over 12 columns of people, lookup, and managed metadata.

If you still encounter errors while working with a large list, just modify your list view to follow the recommendations above.

Prepare Your DLP, Retention Policies

Awhile ago, we discussed about not storing your old files because retention policies will stop you from doing this. Before you migrate your contents to SharePoint Online, you must consider retention policies and data loss prevention.

Because SharePoint improves collaboration, the volume of data exchanged by user increases rapidly. This is where a retention policy appears in the picture. A retention policy helps organizations decide whether to retain content, delete content, or retain and then delete the content; apply a single policy to the entire company or specific locations or users; and apply a policy to all content or just content meeting certain conditions like content with specific keywords or those with sensitive information.

Remember that industry regulations and internal policies require organization to retain content for a minimum period of time like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which only allows users to store specific content for only seven years. See photo below for Microsoft’s retention period guide.

Microsoft said that for SharePoint site collections, a copy of the original content is retained in the Preservation Hold library. This happens when users edit or delete content. For email and public folders, the copy is kept in the Recoverable Items folder. The Preservation Hold library and Recoverable Items folder as well as the retained contents are not visible to most people. With a retention policy, users don’t need to know that their content is subject to the policy.

Since you’re storing important documents like financial statements in SharePoint Online, you must make sure that you comply with business standards and industry policies. You can rest assured that you can experience the data loss prevention policy (DLP) of Office 365 Security & Compliance Center. See photo below from Microsoft’s official website to understand DLP.

With the data loss prevention policy in Office 365, you can now do the following: determine sensitive information across Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams, and OneDrive for Business; avoid unintentional sharing of sensitive information; check and protect sensitive information in desktop versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; educate users on how to comply with policy without interrupting their workflows; and view reports that show content that matches your organization’s DLP policies.

To better use SharePoint Online, you must consistently collaborate with your SharePoint developers to experience the service better. We hope we helped you prepare your organization before you use Microsoft’s SharePoint Online for your business. Don’t forget to share this article on your social media handles.

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