The other day I gave a training session in SharePoint document management. For most people, managing documents in SharePoint is synonymous with “putting them into folders” so I knew I had some explaining to do.
I decided to demo “folders” and “metadata” with a simple example. I created two document libraries.
- Folders: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris.
- A choice column called “Location” with the same cities, and one column for Document Categories “Agenda”, “Meeting Minutes” and “Presentation”. Of course, I prefer to capture meetings information in a different way, but this example would be familiar to most people.
Both document libraries contained 5 documents, according to Site Contents.
I showed both libraries and asked my audience to tell me how many documents there were for location Amsterdam.
For the metadata library, it was easy: it was specified in the Grouping.
Grouping shows you immediately how many documents are in a certain category.
The other one was a bit less obvious. So I said I’d give away my precious SharePoint mug to the first person that could give me the correct answer.
So I opened Paris. 1 document.
Then I opened Barcelona. 1 document.
“Three” some people shouted. I opened the Amsterdam folder.
The audience gasped, and looked at me expectantly. Then I told them that a folder is counted as a document. In addition, I showed them the other library, again with the much more transparent grouping, and also showed them a view grouped by Document Type, and some other views.
The next day, two people called me to ask if they could “do that with the groups” in their own site.
I may still have several thousand people to convince, but I was happy to see that some people got it. So, perhaps this is a good way to show people the difference and the benefits.
Please let me know if you have the same experience – or have found other ways to convince people in a nice way that they can relate to. Summing up all the reasons for not using folders is not always convincing for end users.
It is a sort of “shell game” really. Oh dear, have I just done gamification with SharePoint? :-D
And in case you were wondering, this is my SharePoint mug!
My wonderful coffee mug from a SharePoint Connections event. Translation: “Silence! SharePoint guru tanking inspiration”.
You can find Ellen's original blog here: https://mydigitalworkplace.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/folders-game/