Capture your most valuable asset — Information
Information held on paper is usually just as valuable to organisations as the electronic documents that are generated internally. Often this information represents a large proportion of the day to day correspondence with employeess, partners, suppliers and customers.
Create and Capture
Edit
Workflows
Versions
Retention
Document
Management

Create and Capture

Organisations adopting an ECM/DMS often implement electronic workflow which allows the information held on paper to be included as part of an electronic business process and incorporated into a customer record file along with other associated office documents and emails. For business critical documents, such as purchase orders and supplier invoices, digitising documents can help speed up business transactions as well as reduce manual effort involved in keying data into business systems, such as CRM, ERP and Accounting. Scanned invoices can also be routed to managers for payment approval via email or an electronic workflow.

Clasify and Content Types

Content types enable you to organize, manage, and handle content in a consistent way across your sites. By defining content types for specific kinds of documents or information products, you can ensure that each group of content is managed in a consistent way. This article explains basic concepts about content types, and how content type publishing can be used to share content types across site collections.

In the course of doing business, a typical organization produces many different kinds of content; for example: legal contracts, marketing proposals, product design specifications, manufacturing process documents, etcetera. Although these different types of documents might share a small set of common properties, each type of content has unique attributes, and each might be created, used, shared, and retained in different ways. An organization might want to maintain different kinds of metadata about these different kinds of content, or it might want to apply different kinds of retention or confidentiality policies to them.

Organizations can define each of these different sets of documents as a content type. A content type is a group of reusable settings that describe the shared attributes and behaviors for a specific kind of content. Content types can be defined for any item type, including documents, list items, media files, and folders.

You can specify the following attributes for each content type:

  • The columns (metadata) that you want to assign to items of this type.
  • The custom New, Edit, and Display forms to use with this content type.
  • The workflows that are available for items of this content type.
  • The custom solutions or features that are associated with items of this content type.
  • The information management policies that are associated with items of this content type.
  • The Document Information Panel, that displays in compatible Microsoft Office programs for items of this content type.
  • The document template for new items of this type (document content types only).
  • The document conversions that are available for items of this content type (document content types only).

Content types provide organizations with a way to manage and organize content consistently across sites, lists and libraries and they also make it possible for a single list or library to contain multiple item types or document types.

Edit / Check-In / Check-Out

Checking out files before working on them helps to avoid conflicts and confusion when multiple people are working on the same set of files. When a file is checked out to you, only you can make changes to it. You can check out any file on a SharePoint site for which you have permission, and you can check out files directly from the following Microsoft Office system programs: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Visio.

When you check in a file, you can type comments about the changes that you made to the file. This helps people to understand what has changed in the file from version to version. This is especially helpful if several people work on a file or if the file is likely to go through several revisions. If your library tracks versions of files, your comments become a part of the version history of the file, which can be helpful if people need to view or restore a previous version.

Your organization may require you to check out a file before you edit it. When check-out is required, you must check in a new file when you create it in a library or upload it to a library.

While a file is checked out to you, the changes that you make are not visible to others until you check the file back in. There may be situations in which you want to check in the file so that others can see your changes, but you want to keep the file checked out so that you can continue working on it. When you check in a file, you can choose to continue working on the file, unless your library tracks both major and minor versions and you are checking in a major version. A major version usually has changed significantly since the previous major version, whereas a minor version usually has changed only slightly since the previous version. For example, a major version may include a large portion of new content, whereas a minor version may include only corrections to spelling errors.

Workflow and Approval

If you have ever had to obtain approval from a group of people for a project plan, a proposal, or some other important document, you probably know firsthand that it can be a frustrating experience. First, how do you manage the logistics of getting the document to the right people? Do you send it to people in e-mail and request responses in e-mail? Do you schedule a meeting? Second, how do you keep track of which people have approved the document, and how do you formally record their approval? Do you save multiple e-mails? Do you save meeting notes?

Consider all the problems you could face weeks or months from now, if you're unable to prove that you obtained approval from the right people. Or what if one of your approvers denies that they ever approved your important business document? Unless your organization has developed formal approval processes, you may be in a situation where you routinely manage the approval or review for important business documents on an ad hoc basis.

You can avoid hassles like these by using the Approval workflow available on a Microsoft SharePoint site to route your documents to colleagues for approval. Workflows streamline the cost and time required to coordinate common business processes, such as document approval, by managing and tracking the human tasks involved in these processes. Because the Approval workflow assigns tasks, sends reminders, tracks participation, and creates a record of the entire process, you can concentrate on performing your work instead of chasing people and managing the logistics of the document approval process. Should you ever need to document or prove that you've received approval for something, you can provide stakeholders with a link to the workflow history for the document, which shows who approved or rejected a document, or who failed to complete their workflow task. In this way, the Approval workflow makes the approval process more transparent.

Versioning

Versioning is the process of assigning either unique version names or unique version numbers to unique states of computer software. Within a given version number category (major, minor), these numbers are generally assigned in increasing order and correspond to new developments in the software.

Retention

The retention period of a document is an aspect of records management. It represents the period of time a document should be kept or "retained" electronically format. At the termination of the retention period, the document is usually destroyed.