Document Management & SharePoint
Document management is an essential need in most if not all organizations in this part of the world. Number operational & tracking information is increasing in a very insane way, and in the same time the requirement of historical evidence and documents by auditing is also increasing and getting complicated in the same time.
I remember not long ago we were asked for proof by documents or database records for something happened in the company in 2002 ! that’s almost 10 years ago!!!
Document Management System is a software, or collection of software tools that tracks electronic documents & images of paper documents. These softwares must be able to:
- index documents’ content
- keep track of versions of the documents
- manage permissions on documents and even parts of the documents
- Allow collaboration on documents
- Manage and facilitate automated Workflows on documents
On another hand Microsoft SharePoint (even with all the doubts in performance, and big number of limitations it has) is available and in use in most of the companies in this region. May be the trick is in the kind of licensing that Microsoft provide the companies that they end up finding themselves having SharePoint, so if you have it for what you paid for other products why not to use it and get some benefit out of it.
With this concept organizations will try to use SharePoint as many different products such as
- Internal site for organization
- Way of exchanging information, notices, anouncements with employees
- Team sites
- Document Library
- Knowledge base
- Discustion board
- Workflows managing platform
As a result many organizations including yours have the feeling we need document management, we have SharePoint (well we already paid for it to Microsoft without knowing that) why not to use it for our basic needs of document management!!.
Well this is good and bad
It is good because:
- Basic features of document management system is available in SharePoint’s Document Library
- Great integration between SharePoint and MS Office products (w eord, excel,powerpoint, etc)
- Content types are maintained (need 3rdparty plugin to understand pdf files ) ( a plug in will needed for each type of file not related to MS office products)
- Indexing of documents content is available as a result good search feature
- document level permission settings and permission inheritance is available
- version controlling and management is available
- collaboration to certain level is available but it gets much better in SharePoint 2010
- Workflow creation and management is available (need to buy a plugin for better control and management of workflows)
This is also bad because:
- Document parts level controle is not available. That is you can’t change permissions on sections of the documents or on different sheets or pages of word document by document library will have to live with whatever MS Office offers in this matter
- Documents are stored inside Database as a blob. Well that’s wrong most of document management system stores documents as files on a storage devices usually associated with backup product and link to the document is stored in the database. Storing the whole document in the database will cause performance issues with your DBMS and you will need huge amount of RAM, may be for this reason there is a best practice in SharePoint to make a single document library have at most 2000 documents (well nothing stops you from adding more, but they suggest to you not to add more)
- Need of plugins : you will need plugins and many of them depend on your requirements. You better consider the price of plugins you will need while implementing SharePoint document library as your document management system
Well here I am not saying either way
I am not saying this is good go and use SharePoint as your document management solution
I am not saying this is bad don’t use SharePoint as your document management solution
It all depend on your requirements!!
You should know the pros and cons (which I tried to provide here as much as I know) and then its your decision
Depending on your requirements SharePoint document library could be the best solution you will ever get for your document management
Or it can be your worst nightmare
So decide well J