Working with an Enterprise SharePoint Consultant Part 4: Document Management

SharePoint Document Management controls the life cycle of documents in your organization, including creation, review, publication and archive or retention.

By Anthony Baratta

In our article series based on Document Management with SharePoint, we have covered how we can use document management to maximize the output of the organization using the out-of-the-box features of SharePoint. In this article, we provide a quick cheat sheet of basic tips for SharePoint document management. This article will be helpful to every SharePoint manager who will be managing documents with SharePoint intranet sites.

Document Checkout and Versioning

Document versioning is a great feature of the SharePoint Document Library. SharePoint allows us to create major versions or major & minor versions of a document. With major & minor versioning, we can keep track of each version of the document as it is edited. Versioning allows you to restore previous versions of the document, and checkout prevents accidental editing of documents. Personally, I feel it’s best to enable document versioning for your document library. It’s really not document management without versioning, is it?

Make sure you have forced all documents to be checked out before a user begins editing. You can do this from the document library Settings à Versioning Settings.

Select Versioning settings. From here, we can configure the versioning and checkout settings for the documents in this document library.

  1. Select Major and Minor (draft) versions
  2. Select Keep # of Major versions
  3. Select Keep # of Minor versions
  4. Select Require documents to be checked out

The number of retained copies can be decided based on your document management needs, we recommend that you keep a number of versions available to have a roll back and running history of the document.

Training your user base to use check-in / check-out properly is very important to your document management processes.

Working with Metadata

As we discussed previously, we highly recommend creating metadata for your document manage practices to tag the documents rather than creating folders. Also, SharePoint adds folders and subfolders in the URL of the document link, so if we have our document within 3-4 levels of subfolders, the URL will be longer than the maximum path and document name 250-character limit.

Good metadata can also go a long way to applying record management and retention policies, should your files require it. Always manage the metadata in the managed metadata repository, also known as the taxonomy term store. Metadata can be created at the document library, site collection or tenant / web farm level. The metadata stored in the tenant term store is available across all the sites in the SharePoint farm so that all the users can share the same metadata.

Metadata is crucial for searching and filtering the document libraries and document centers and for correctly representing the document in the intranet site. Metadata is important, but make sure you are not capturing too much metadata. The metadata needed depends on your internal document creation needs, data retention requirements and internal governance needs for cataloging and organizing your documents.


Do not give the Edit permission to the users who need to edit the documents. Instead, provide them with the Contribute permission. When you give the Edit permission to users, it also provides them permission to delete the entire list/library.

Do not give permissions to individual users. Rather, make use of user roles and groups (either SharePoint Groups or Active Directory Groups) to provide access. In the long term, it will become difficult to manage the permissions for each user as your rollout of SharePoint grows.

Be careful when you break the inheritance for the list/library level or item level permissions. SharePoint’s performance can be reduced greatly when you break the inheritance at the item level.

User Training

Train users on the usage of the SharePoint best practices. Educate them on how to check out, check in, and discard the checkout of documents. We have found that most of the users are now aware of how to edit the files using the check out and check in policy of the SharePoint document library. We have also found that documents are often kept in a checked out state, which means other users are not able to see the changes or check out the document.

Communicate with users using newsletters and weekly emails. Let users know about the new features of SharePoint that you are rolling out and how they will benefit from them.

Creation of Views

When tagging after a bulk upload, use a view that shows all tags. You can do this by changing the library into a quick-edit Excel view so you can easily copy rows and cells.

Changing the views by default means you will probably have a view that has a defaulted number of columns. The idea is that you won’t feel overwhelmed, but you can simply change the default view to see all the tagging columns in the library.

Use views if there are many documents in the SharePoint library so that users can view the limited number of documents as needed.

Microsoft Office Integration

SharePoint communicates very well with Microsoft Office. You can update the document metadata directly from Microsoft Office so that metadata is not lost during the check in and check out of documents.

“Drag and drop” is a great feature that allows you to upload the documents directly from the browser. However, this feature requires that current browser be available on the client machine.

In addition to the tips shared in this article, here are some more quick thoughts on document management with SharePoint:

  • Share the links of the document and do not attach the documents in the email.
  • Do not use spaces while naming the Document Library.
  • Make sure you have the right document library name when creating it as changing the name later on will not change the name in the URL; it only changes the title of the document library.
  • Avoid categorizing the documents into multiple folders.
  • Use content type and managed metadata consistently across the sites.
  • Use the document library template to enforce common documentation standards.

For any further information regarding document versioning or checkouts in SharePoint, please connect with our SharePoint consultants online. Or, to discuss the opportunities available to your business, contact us at (510) 652-7700.

Anthony Baratta
Anthony Baratta – Chief Technology Officer
Anthony helps the company realize it's mission - Real results. Every time. Fluent in technology, Anthony breaks down complex problems into scalable solutions and manageable automated tasks.
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