To Folder or Not to Folder, That is the Question

July 19, 2016

Since the introduction of file shares, we have become creatures of habit. We create folders, sub-folders, sub-sub-folders, sub-sub-sub-folders, and store all of our project documents in these folders—meeting notes, requirements documents, test procedures, customer intel—you name it. When someone asks us for  a document, we sometimes know where it is, but most times we don't.


Search for it? Yeah, that’s done by hand. Open a folder and look—not there. Open another folder—nope, not there either. So we keep looking…and wasting time…


For many of us, file shares have been replaced by SharePoint. We are told to use SharePoint to help us manage our documents, to collaborate with our teams, to enable sharing of documents regardless of location, and the first thing we do is…you guessed it…create a folder. And so the power of SharePoint becomes limited by our habit, and we complain that SharePoint makes our jobs harder. We're here to tell you that there is a better way!


Using Views in SharePoint

SharePoint allows us to create “Views” of documents. Views are not a new feature, but we’re constantly surprised by the number of SharePoint users who don’t know how to use them—or don’t know that they exist.


Need to find project requirements documents? Not a problem. Want to review all meeting minutes? Got that in a second. How is this done? By creating a View that uses metadata, filtering, sorting and grouping. The filtering, sorting, and grouping is easy. We’ve done this all of our lives. The metadata? That requires planning.


In this example, the library stores documents of several types: requirements, notes, and procedures. By creating a column in the library called Document Type and adding these types as the values for this column, documents uploaded to the library can be tagged with one of the types (the metadata), which categorizes the document.


Now that the documents have been categorized, we can filter, sort, and group them using Views of these documents to meet my needs. An All Requirements view filters the library so that only documents tagged as requirements are visible. An All Documents view groups the documents by category (requirements, notes, and procedures). Additionally, settings allow us to choose whether to collapse or expand the group to either hide or show the documents when the View is opened.


The possibilities provided by Views are endless…as are the opportunities to find your documents without digging through multiple levels of folders and wasting valuable time.

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