SharePoint Document Management System: Four Buckets and a Skip

SharePoint Document Management

During a recent Office 365 and SharePoint engagement, the focus was on transferring documentation and data from an older version of SharePoint and on-premise File Shares to Office 365. Prior to this, an analysis of existing documentation & data had been taking place, including the Project Stakeholders, Project Management and Core Departmental Champions to formulate a migration strategy to Office 365.

The organisation in question have terabytes of data on local File Shares, a mix of Shared Drives and Personal Drives – that continue to require increases in storage size. They also counted over 3500 different pages on their existing intranet, with analysis highlighting a majority of these pages getting less than 1% of the views – some having been never visited in years. These discoveries highlighted the need for changes within the new Office 365 and SharePoint Digital Workplace.

During workshops with the individual departmental areas, the amount of data and documentation was discussed. With the term of “buckets” being used to simply highlight how this would be stored and separated moving forward. . .

Externally available data & documentation

The first “bucket” would contain everything that is to be made available to the general public. These are materials that would live on external facing websites. They may be managed internally via some teams, however, should continue to exist as a singular live version that includes the messages being shared with people outside of the organisation.

Internally available data & documentation

The second “bucket” would contain everything that is to be made available to the entire organisation, such as, forms, templates, policies and procedures. These will, of course, be managed by different personnel, but, there is no privacy attached to these documents. Once again one version of the truth is adhered to at all times, meaning that the departments will be able to make use of the latest document as opposed to all hosting their own and causing duplicates that are outdated and incorrect.

Collaborative team data and documentation

The third “bucket” would contain everything that is relevant to an individual Department, Team and/or Project. These materials will only be accessible and editable to a sub-set of personnel in the organisation, ensuring that they do not clutter everyone’s search. As an example, IT may host a number of Service Desk Analytical Reports that are only relevant to their team.

It is important to note that collaborative documentation may be moved into the internal “bucket” if it is to become customer facing. An example of this is that an amount of research & development documents and draft policies may be contained in a Human Resources collaborative area, however, the final outcome may need to be published to a wider audience upon completion of the task/project.

Personal data and documentation

The fourth “bucket” would live on users personal OneDrive and contain their own documentation, which they can choose to share with others as they wish. This “bucket” should be very minimal in storage space being used, as the majority of documents that are worked on within an organisation should belong to the organisation and therefore, have an impact on either the Public Customer, Internal Staff or an Internal Department.

SharePoint Document Management System

And don’t forget the skip!

It then came to the discussion of a fifth “bucket” which was soon realised to be a lot larger than the others and quickly grew into a “skip”. This is perhaps the most important of them all, as this is where all data and documentation should end up if it is no longer relevant to the organisation.

Understandably, a lot of data is kept for good reason (retention periods), but this does not apply to everything. It is quite simple that moving unnecessary documentation will just continue to cause issues within the new Document Management Solution as it will clutter user’s search. Majority of the documentation that needs to end up in the “skip” are duplicates of documentation that have built up through the use of email attachments, manual version control or just simply through a lack of understanding to where the document would have lived in the existing file structure – leading to a new version being saved elsewhere.

Document retention, deletion and archiving will have to be adhered to within a new Document Management System, through use of the relevant features and functionality provided by both Office 365 & SharePoint. This will then continue to ensure that documents are removed from the core system to approve efficiency of the business and their Digital Workplace.

The approach taken by each organisation may differ slightly depending on the amount of data and documentation that they have (although I have seen the same problems in a 5 person organisation as I have in a 3000 person organisation, just a more extreme scale) and the information that it contains. However, thinking about the high level “buckets” of data and documentation that your organisation works with can really assist in providing a general understanding to your users – specifically if they work in their own Silo.


In conclusion, the introduction of a new Document Management System should improve user experience and efficiency dramatically. It should also assist in achieving and maintaining new standards, such as ISO 9001 Quality. It is in my opinion, and through my experience, that a cleanse of data and documentation is critical to assist in this. Which I why I find myself telling client and customers “not to forget the skip!”

Thinking about introducing Office 365 and SharePoint into your organisation for Document Management? Looking to migrate data? Or already working with the solution, but finding it inefficient. Please reach out so that we can discuss this further. We would also like to hear peoples thoughts and experiences of Document Management in a Digital Workplace. 

This blog post was written by Steve Glasspool – Senior SharePoint Consultant at AMT Evolve.

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