What Is Document Management?

Document management is the process of applying policies and rules to how documents are created, persisted, and expired within an organization. Document collaboration is merely the process of checking out, checking in, and versioning a document before it is published. Windows SharePoint Services gives you document collaboration, whereas SharePoint Server 2007 gives you document management. Records management encompasses all of the functions of document management, but applies those functions to a broader set of content elements—not just documents. Any electronic record, such as a list item or log entry, can be managed as a record in SharePoint Server 2007 if there is a need to do so.

Normally, a document management system (DMS) is used to manage documents. SharePoint Server 2007 forms the basis of an intermediate-level DMS. It is not an advanced system for DMS because it lacks several features that more robust DMSs include, such as:

  • Pruning a document’s lineage to create a new line of documents
  • Grafting dissimilar document pedigrees into a document set that is treated as a single unit
  • Managing a set of documents as a single record set
  • Working with linked documents that are hosted in other repositories
  • Attaching a unique document number to the document that doesn’t change its name

Notes from the Field: When Another DMS Is the Best Choice

I was working with a customer who had 1,300 users in the oil and gas industry. This customer had already implemented another DMS and was also in the process of implementing SharePoint Server 2007. During our two-day design and architecture engagement, we spent roughly an hour outlining the customer’s document management needs that formed the basis of a matrix of customer needs relative to the document management features in SharePoint Server 2007. At one point, this customer said something to the effect that the documents created by the company’s field engineers (as part of the process of pumping oil out of the ground) needed to be grouped together into a document set, and then the set needed to be treated as a single unit in the DMS while the documents remained as individual items. My suggestion was that the customer place these documents into a single document library or into a single folder within a document library (even though I don’t like the use of folders) and then treat those documents as a single unit that way. The customer’s response was that the set of documents needed to be routed through the company’s internal processes and approval workflows, which is something that SharePoint Server 2007 simply doesn’t do without custom coding. Since the customer was not going to implement custom coding for documents in Phases I or II of deployment, the company decided to stick with its current DMS and take a wait-and-see attitude about performing this function after seeing the document management functionality in the next release. Bill English, Microsoft MVP, Mindsharp

Generally speaking, the main aspects of managing documents through a life cycle include the following:

  • Creation These are the methods for envisioning, initiating, and collaborating on a new document’s development.
  • Location There must be a physical location where documents will be stored and accessed. Usually, most DMSs require single instance storage (SIS) of a document so that there is only one version of the truth.
  • Authentication/Approval These are the stated methods of ensuring that a document is fully vetted and approved before it is considered to be official, compliant communication from the company.
  • Workflow This describes the series of steps needed to pass documents from one person to another for various purposes, such as to gain approval to publish the document or to collect signatures on a document.
  • Filing In a traditional sense, we’d discuss into which filing cabinet the hard copy was placed. For electronic systems, we file a document by placing it in the physical location and then attaching metadata to the document. The metadata files the document logically by allowing the document to be found based on the metadata values assigned to the document.
  • Distribution This describes the methods of getting the document into the hands of the intended readers.
  • Retrieval This refers to the methods used to find the documents, such as querying the index for keywords or using search alerts to find new content that meets the query keywords.
  • Security This refers to the methods used to ensure the document’s integrity and security during the document life cycle.
  • Retention These are the organization’s policies and practices that inform everyone how long different document types are retained by the company.
  • Archiving Similar in concept to retention, the differing characteristic is that archiving is a subset of retention policies. Archiving focuses on the long-term retention of documents in a readable format after the document’s active life has ended. Subsumed in this category is the expiration of documents after they no longer need to be retained.

When we consider the features that SharePoint Server 2007 gives us, what we find is that all the document management characteristics can be implemented using this platform. Table 8-1 outlines the document management characteristics and how they are implemented in SharePoint Server 2007.

On the Companion Media This book’s CD contains a .pdf file named SharePoint Server 2007 Document Management Poster.pdf, which will print out a 2' × 3' electronic poster on a large format printer. This poster is a graphical representation of Table 8-1. If you would like a free hard copy of this poster, you can sign up to receive one as part of the larger poster set in the premium content site at www.mindsharp.com.

Table 8-1 Document Management Elements and SharePoint Server 2007 Features


< Back      Next >



© Microsoft. All Rights Reserved.