The Narrow Edge of the Wedge re. SharePoint and Content Organization


With so many of our clients using Microsoft SharePoint as a collaboration platform, and most declaring that their current implementations are a complete mess in terms of content organization and structure, what’s the best way to balance user adoption with your organization's record-keeping requirements?

On the one hand, we want users to dive in and begin using collaboration platforms like SharePoint. So we don’t want to impose too many “rules” or adopt too heavy an approach to governance. With employee adoption rates up in the 70 percent range, from a collaborative standpoint, the system is a success.

On the other hand, allowing users to dump content into SharePoint without some degree of consistent structure, including the notion of record versus non-record, only means that we’re setting ourselves up to replicate the mess we already have on network drives and email.

What is the right balance? While talking to a recent client, I offered the opinion that an organization should prioritize user adoption and try to impose just a moderate degree of structure – the proverbial narrow edge of the wedge toward greater content organization and structure. Then, over the years, and as new sites are created and new content added, start imposing more structure, slowly raising the bar. I’m sure some of my friends that are steeped in the records discipline are choking while reading this, but to them, I offer this solemn declaration: Something is better than nothing.

Having said that, let me define “nothing”. “Nothing” means zip, none, nada – no content under any form whatsoever of records management. Which, at most organizations, is typical for collaborative content. So if we can achieve even the most basic classification scheme, such as “all content inherits one of eight different content types (two of which are considered records and retained for 10 years, the rest is flagged to be disposed in 3 years),” what a home run!

Now, it’s not perfect, and it certainly doesn’t facilitate wholesale conformance to the current corporate records schedule with its 100-plus record types, but I’ll say it again: It’s better than nothing.

Rich Medina
James Watson
I’m President and co-founder of Doculabs, serving as executive sponsor on consulting engagements for financial services clients.