My Top 5 SharePoint Features by Colinda Latour
I cannot lie, my favourite SharePoint features and tools are all document management related. I guess that’s to be expected when my background is records and information management.
In my years of consulting, even before my involvement with SharePoint, the biggest complaints or questions I received were: how do you manage versions and can I set up a reminder for my documents when they need an action?
So, right off the bat, SharePoint’s version history (automatic version management) and the relatively new feature in SP using Flow, of setting a reminder for any file when there is a date column within the library, impress me.
Let’s talk more about these before moving on to my other favourite features.
SharePoint’s version management is one of the best things invented since sliced bread, in my opinion! When used properly, it takes away all doubt for the user that they are working on the most up-to-date version.
All previous versions are stored in the background and are accessible, restorable and can be viewed to compare with any other version.
Gone are the days of, V1, V2, VFinal, VFinal-final, VFinal With Fred’s Comments, VFinal-I Promise!
This feature is amazing! Simple to use and at anyone’s disposal by a click of a button and putting in the number of days for the reminder to be sent.
If there is a date column within the library, other than Created and Modified, a user can simply click on the Flow button, Set a Reminder and then enter the number of days beforehand that they want to receive a reminder on that particular document or folder [double check folders].
This is giving power back to the user and making life easier for the IT team who no longer have to build flows to set these types of requests up.
This simple feature can make life easier for things such as policy review, contract renewal, due dates for documents, etc.
My life just got easier!
Another one of my favourite features is the Sharing function. This tool allows documents to be shared externally (outside of the permission group) without having to download the item and/or attach it to an email as a separate document. This tool allows for secure sharing without creating duplicate copies.
You simply send a link to the document or folder and the recipient can open it and only see what was shared. There is no need to fear that the addressee will see anything else within that library.
This can eliminate sending duplicate copies outside of the organisation and has settings that do not allow for download or printing, if greater security needs to be considered.
Out of control duplication is also a common concern and issue with many organisations, the sharing tool cuts back on that concern.
Settings for external sharing need to be determined and configured at the admin centre level, but can also be controlled at the site collection level. It is advisable to discuss your particular requirements with your IT team, if they are managing SharePoint.
The new simple web part you can add or the ‘out of the box’ tool to colour code choice and date columns has made my year!
Honestly, I used to fail at copy and pasting json code for column formatting—for some reason, it never worked for me! But now, it is as simple as a few clicks. Download the web part from GitHub, walk your way through the wizard and voila – you have donut graphs and email icons that send an email when you click on it.
The options seem endless, and I haven’t even used all the features! However, this is not for all end users, it is for your champions or those who have higher permissions.
But, do not fear, the end user can now easily colour code choice and date columns. All they have to do is click on the column title, select format this column, and then edit the colour palette that opens in the right pane.
This was the second most requested item since I started working with SharePoint – can you colour code your documents?
I’m happy to say now, “Yes and it’s easy!” Much different than my previous answer, “Yes [grimace], but it will take some coding…”
Which response do you think is more popular? Users love this tool and it makes a SharePoint library or list that much more visually pleasant.
Now, last but not least, my fifth favourite…
Retention Labels and Policies:
As a records manager, the lifecycle management of documents is very important to me and I love how SharePoint makes it easy to assign retention labels to files, folders, content types, libraries and site collections.
If your organisation has a retention schedule/policy, then this can be applied to your files either manually or automatically. Both options are useful at different times.
If you created a content type for a group of documents that has the same retention period, you can auto-apply that to all documents created as part of this content type. Or, if you have a library that has documents that can all be deleted at the same time after creation, then you can apply it to the library and never worry about it the files in there being kept longer than needed.
I know the tendency can be to keep everything, but in the day and age of data protection, freedom of information, litigation and subject access requests, it is of utmost importance to properly manage disposition.
Disposition includes: deletion (destroy in the paper world), archive (keep forever), or move inactive files to another location so end users are only working with active files.
It is also triggered by certain events which can be date of creation, or an event such as contract end-date. SharePoint allows you to set up these different triggers and actions that need to take place.
Another great thing about retention labels and policies, is depending on your license (E5 is required), you can send all files marked for deletion to be reviewed beforehand. This is a great feature to help when information may need to be retained for various reasons such as litigation or subject access requests.
There you have it…
My top five SharePoint features. Let us know what your favourite SharePoint features are or if you agree with me. If you’d like to learn more about version management or retention management, please check out our youtube series on ‘Records Management’ which covers everything you need to know. You can also check out the Office 365 academy.