Over the years, we have led a lot of Sharepoint implementations with ProcessDelight. The main issues our clients dealt with where related to document management: storing, sharing and retrieving files. We firmly believe that Sharepoint is an amazing tool for document management, if it is used correctly!
Some people might disagree with our point of view, but we believe that using folders in Sharepoint is a poor practice. If you are using folders in Sharepoint you are using a very expensive network drive, you have to maintain and pay licensing for!
1. File duplication
Folders allow you to copy files and save them in different locations. Risky when you do not want users to send around different versions of one document.
2. Data integrity
When users are allowed to create folders, it is likely that you will encounter data integrity issues (e.g. misspelled company name or different spelling by leaving out ‘the’ in the name). This will cause loss of time searching for documents you think have a different name and can even lead to duplications because users think the document doesn’t exist, since it has a different name.
Too many sub-folders tend to hide files, making it difficult and time-consuming to find particular documents. It also complicates the structure of your documentation.
4. Difficult to change
A folder structure is static and thus very difficult to change while your organization is constantly changing and evolving.
5. Sorting and filtering
A folder structure does not have the capabilities of filtering and sorting all the files because they are split up in folders and sub-folders. Users can only filter the particular folder they are in, sub-folders not included.
The only one who knows exactly how the nested folder structure is built up, is the one who built it (e.g. users don’t know how many sub-folders a folder has, unless they are very familiar with the structure).
7. One viewpoint
Folders only allow you to view the documents in that folder in one specific way, the folder way. With metadata, on the other hand, you can create many different kind of views based on the properties you have added to these documents (e.g. organize by project, by customer, by date,…).
8. Limited URL’s in Sharepoint
Sharepoint adds the name of folders and sub-folders to the URLThe URL limit in Sharepoint is 260 characters, so if you create too many sub-folders you might bump into an issue.
So, what is the best practice to store documents in Sharepoint?
The answer is simple! You use metadata to store your documents. Tag your documents with specific keywords and it is done. No need to worry about a complex structure, too many sub-folders or losing files.