Monday, July 11, 2011

Records management and business process collaboration, two different needs?

In SharePoint 2010, we have a technology which completely supports Enterprise Content Management. From improvements to interface and configuration abilities to improvements on the server side such as:

Allowing servers dedicated to records storage, allowing the core SharePoint site to maintain its speed and reactiveness to user input even under heavy load.

Allowing dedicated search and index servers to handle the job of indexing and allowing rapid searching of up to millions of records.

we now have a toolset that can truly handle both physically and through configuration abilities the enterprise level records management process.

The first steps to planning a content management solution is deciding upon classification and key data schemes for the various types of documents in your organization. This results in setting up site collections to support the classification scheme and contain the document repositories, including archive areas for documents that are retired either manually or by a rule or set of rules (such as age, document type).

One advantage of this classification scheme is that it allows configurable searches, so that searches can be restricted to specific document types, such as meeting minutes or quarterly report powerpoint presentations.

These are the core tasks of setting up SharePoint Enterprise Content Management.

But there is another need for these documents, beyond having them in a single location properly categorized with routing and archiving routines.

And that need is in collaborative business processes. On the one hand, you have all of these documents carefully organized into categories each represented with a document library. This means all related documents are typically found together, such as meeting minutes, or departmental processes or policies. But a collaborative business process probably requires documents from DIFFERENT areas or categorizations to support that process.

So, a quarterly report may require prior quarterly reports, departmental report templates, board or stakeholder input, key project documents, etc. If the user had to search for each of these documents in support of the quarterly report, they would have to search different areas in the Records management scheme.

Fortunately, SharePoint supports exposing the same documents in multiple locations, meaning that, just because a document resides in the 11-077C document classification document repository, doesn't mean it can't also be exposed to a team site set up to support the quarterly report. The team site can have a one time set up that links to all documents through its document repository to the team site. These document links are used as regular documents, to the user, there is no difference in abilities.

Any updates to the documents in either area, document classification repository or team site repository are reflected in the other, and new docouments added to the team site can be auto routed to the correct location in the classification system as well.

The seemingly opposing needs of enterprise records classification, and the need for collaborative local document areas can be effectively countered by exposing documents in the classification scheme to other document repositories associated directly with specific business processes.

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