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5 benefits of a Microsoft SharePoint Document Library

Anything that saves time and money is embraced in today’s economy, whether that involves efficient outsourcing or using Skype for international calls. Yet despite the availability of web-based productivity platforms such as Windows SharePoint, many businesses continue to use a far less productive method of shared folders for file sharing.
While sharing folders is a relatively easy way to share documents, today its disadvantages are increasingly becoming apparent. To start with documents are extremely hard to find. If you don’t know the name of the particular file you are looking for you have to rely on someone else knowing its name or spending valuable time searching. More often than not 80% of the files clogging up the system are old, irrelevant and unmanaged. Secondly, there is no way for multiple recipients to edit and collaborate on the same document. Lastly, there is no consistent version control or authorised approval process to sign off of documents.


As a consequence employees spend valuable time searching for documents and the ones they find are often out of date, inconsistent and incorrect, placing any related business process at risk. However, all this can be resolved with the use of a document library with a tool such as Microsoft SharePoint.
1. Share easily.
SharePoint is delivered through a web browser and accessed via any internet enabled PC, making it easy to share and access files stored within your document libraries with other workgroup members. 
SharePoint also greatly simplifies the way information can be managed and distributed, reducing that all-too common ‘can’t find it’ or ‘which is the latest document’ shared folders challenge. Using email such as Microsoft Office Outlook enables you to read, edit and search for documents contained within your libraries offline. In addition, it is easy to send files to another person by simply sending the URL as a link in an email.
2. Stay updated.
Office relationships can be seriously tested when team members aren’t updated on a project’s status. Microsoft SharePoint helps to remove office angst by prompting editors to send a URL link informing workgroup members of any changes made to a document. This can be made either immediately or at a preset date/time, or via RSS feed.   
In addition to this, user error is kept to a minimum. Files can be locked while one person is editing, preventing others from overwriting or editing a document inadvertently. Once the editor has finished, another team member can ‘check in’ and edit the file, helping to prevent editing conflicts and administrative headaches. Editors that prefer to work on the hard disk can check out files and work offline when using an application that is compatible with SharePoint, such as the Microsoft Office system. SharePoint also supports Web Discussions by enabling editors to add ‘live’ comments on the project.   
3 Retrieve and reuse.
Within SharePoint Document Libraries users can apply ‘content types’ to a document to make them easier to store, organize and retrieve. For example, you may have a document with ‘employee statistics’ but its primary function is to report on ‘employee welfare’. Adding metadata, in other words, information that explains or describes the document in greater detail such as ‘employee statistics’ will enable you to filter all documents with this information or metadata. Such metadata also informs the viewer on what is contained in the document and its last update, preventing the need to open and scan irrelevant documents. Used correctly, SharePoint’s content types brings a high degree of sophistication to everyday tasks.
4 Version control and approval workflow
While collaborators will only see the most recently edited version in the document library, it can be configured to save old versions of documents. This allows you to easily revert to a previous version of a document if, for example, your plans change. Within document libraries documents can remain in a pending state until they are approved by a manager.
SharePoint can also use workflows to route a document to a group of people for approval, as these workflows are associated with a particular document content type the approvals process can be automated.
5. Automated document retention policies
The ongoing management of documents in terms of deletion, retention and archiving can be all managed from within SharePoint. Every document can be assigned a unique identifier, which stays with the document even when it's archived.  This allows records to be easily referenced by an ID no matter where the document moves. In addition, document lifecycle retention policies can be set up and automated with multiple stages for an individual document or type, for example, “review health and safety policy every year, and delete after 7 years”.

Rob Leverton

Rob has worked as an IT technician and project manager with Connexion for 14 years before moving into his current role as head of the technical services team.

Although Rob comes from a technical background he’s very much a people person and he is exceptionally good at building excellent working relationships with our customers and his technical team to deliver service excellence to our clients.

Rob Leverton

James Stratton

James is passionate about technology and how it can transform business.  Having worked with hundreds of businesses in many different sectors over the last 25 years he has a huge amount of business IT knowledge that he enjoys imparting to Connexions customers.

James is responsible for Connexions strategic development and also still enjoys a role in consulting and sales and marketing