In this third post on the “Pillars of SharePoint,” I will focus on the Content feature area. Note that Microsoft does not include managing web page content in this category – that is the Sites feature area. Content is about managing the business documents and information that are part of your daily business activities and decision making, plus the records that you keep for compliance reasons. SharePoint has long had document libraries for managing documents – including the ability to manage permissions and check documents in and out. Document retention policies and records management are really not new either. However, Microsoft has made improvements to the user interface to make these features more intuitive.
In working with documents, you now have the ability to select multiple documents at a time from a document library and perform certain actions on them. The fluent ribbon design on the web page works nicely with the multi-select functionality to greatly reduce the number of clicks required for manipulating documents and other information. Also, with just a few clicks you can mark a document as a record – which means that no further changes can be made to it. This is helpful for organizations with regulatory compliance requirements. Retention policies dictate when documents are allowed to be archived or disposed of.
New in SharePoint 2010 is the concept of Document Sets. Document sets allow you to group together a number of documents that belong together so they may be acted upon as if they are one. Microsoft mentions on the product feature page that this would be useful for “speeding up common processes like RFP responses.” I think it would also be useful for maintaining documents for large project teams, the annual budgeting process, the internal quoting process and so forth. By creating a document set, I can create a version or snapshot of my entire set of documents at a given time. I may also send the entire set through a workflow process for approval. What is nice about these sets, too, is that the documents may still be treated individually as well as collectively. Considering the improvements in classifying documents that we explored in a previous post, grouping those similar documents into a set will most certainly result in streamlined workflows and error reduction.