A document is an activity track or a communication medium. When dealing with enterprise documents, questions are always the same and few companies are mature about them. To solve this, I offer you to dive into the question : In which tool an employee should drop off his documents in the information system and especially ni O365? Evolution of Microsoft SAAS offer the last 2 years make the question very frequent from CTOs and CIOs.
To answer it, better than think about features, let’s think about : Who should have access to the document?
It allow us to see a part of the ECM familly tools and matching O365 tools in a schema:
Grey icons mean that’s out of Microsoft offer. Note that there are 3 columns:
- No tools : The IT from the 90’s, when you don’t have O365 or other competitor solution in your IT.
- Minimal O365 TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for little companies who don’t have developped IT/support/training team.
- Normal O365 for bigger companies with available IT support, training team, etc.
Documents suitable for all public audience
Usually, not a big deal. They are managed by communication/marketing who publish them on public web sites. For videos, you can also think about external services for documents docs.microsoft.com (the « D » logo you can the see in the picture above) and for code Github.
For web site, there are no Microsoft offer by now in O365. But you can use Azure VM and install SharePoint on Premise on it and brand it as you want. There are plenty of web sites running on SharePoint on Premise currently.
Documents for external stakeholders
Customers, suppliers, partners, we need to share documents with people external to the company and except if you have end to end encryption, email is a really bad solution in a security point of view (and collaboration too!). We usually talk about Extranets. An Extranet without cloud services means a DMZ installation and a big effort (time and money) to maintain and secure it.
There are several answers possible depending on your IT structure.
In all case, for collaboration scenario, O365 Groups is the best solution.
If you’re a tiny company with little IT support and training, you can allow end users to share document from OneDrive for end-to-end sharing.
For bigger ones, who do want to have control on shared contents, consider SharePoint instead of OneDrive. If it’s a communication oriented extranet, think about Modern team sites, if it is more oriented on document management, go to classical SharePoints.
By the way, remind that external user account are free in O365.
Internal document for the whole company
All documents accessible to all employees (rules and regulatory, procedures, forms, etc.) go to the corporate Intranet. There are also news, calendars for events concerning the company.
Before they get an Intranet, companies are usually using one or several shared folders open to everybody.
To build your Intranet, SharePoint is the perfect solution. If you want a responsive design, cool modern components and an easy edition of content, go to Modern SharePoints. If you want a deep customization (including MasterPage customization), think go to classical SharePoint.
Internal formal process related documents
For billing, incoming mail, business processes, all that company activities which run a formal, structured way, they generate a lot of documents with a clear classification plan. The technical answer for this kind of business requirement is the DMS (Document Management System).
Once again, a company without DMS will handle this with shared folders, with folders and sub folders , praying that end users will respect the classficiation plan.
In this case, the only good solution is SharePoint classical. You can set permissions at sub site/document library/folder/document level, fine tune content types, employ features and classical workflows which is not possible with others.
Internal unformal documents
This is a big part of company document production : minutes, slides and all unformal documents. Many of the documents designed to go to the DMS are stored here during the redaction phase. It’s more about document sharing and collaboration oriented. It includes also sharing non document/file contents as calendars, tasks, contacts, etc.
For this kind of scenario, if you want to do customization and spend a logt of money, you can still use SharePoint, but the easy/modern/complete solution is the lastest Microsoft Teams! If you didn’t have deployed it yet, you can still use O365 Groups but in my opinion, for internal use, if you can choose between the two, take Teams.
Archives and records
That’s all documents that are not usefull anymore on daily activity but the company has to keep for regulatory reasons (previous version of procedures, terminated contracts, etc.). SharePoint has a « Records Center » site collection that helps to manage this kind of documents. It’s totally sufficient if « Records Managent » norm (ISO 15 489) compliance is sufficient, but if you have European business, you may have to be compliant with other norms. In this case, you can replace SharePoint Records Center by an external tier solution (depending on the norms you want to be compliant with, but there are plenty of products which have existing efficient connectors with SharePoint).
All documents an employe produce but don’t enter in categories listed above, mainly because the document is at draft status and mustn’t be viewed by anyone.
As, by default, there is no tool inside company’s IT, they end on end user desktop hard drive (the famous \My documents\ folder).
In all cases, OneDrive is a very good option to manage this kind of documents.
Let’s remark I didn’t mentioned ESN (Enterprise Social Network). That’s because ESN is a communication tool, not a storage one. In an ideal world, ESN should store no document, just links to documents stored in one of the tools listed above as all Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn users do on Internet.
Two things :
- First, cool, you now have a free to use governance matrix that you can adapt to your company context (please, don’t thank me).
- Next time your CTO says « we will migrate all our shared drives to SharePoint/O365 », please stop him and explain you will need to split shared drives migration into several projects. « Eat the elephant one bit at the time… »