© 2017 BY Purple Oyster


One of the principal benefits of SharePoint and other document management environments is that they are very easy to use; however, this means that it's also very easy for them to be misused and become what amounts to little more than a glorified network drive - the document management equivalent of a black hole.  Given the heirarchical nature of SharePoint and the tens or hundreds of thousands of documents that may be found in a single site collection, it is almost impossible for a business to have any sort of grasp of what's there, whether it's current and whether it needs to be archived or even deleted altogether.

Some other issues:

  • IT departments tend to focus on the technical aspects of SharePoint , especially if it's an on-premises environment.  This is all to do with server load, storage capacity, network capacity, application uptime and Key Performance Indicators.  They will rarely have time or resource to address the detail of the lifecycle of individuial documents, and these responsibilities are usually delegated to the nominated Business Owner - who probably doesn't have time or resource to familarise themselves with the value of each of potentially tens of thousands of documents.

  • Human nature's "keep it just in case" problem - most people prefer to leave a document where it is rather than take even a small risk by deleting it.  This is often true when a document has demonstrably not been accessed for years.

  • The ownership problem.  Even when a document is created for a short-term purpose, once its' owner has moved on to another job, the document becomes effectively orphaned and then falls into the "keep it just in case" category.

  • The garbage-in-garbage-out search problem.  

    "I can find nothing is search" is a not-infrequent cry amongst SharePoint users but it's also not uncommon for those same users - when asked if they enter a value in the document's Title property when uploading - will answer "I don't have time".  No document title means that SharePoint has to guess what the document is about and therefore what to display in search results.


  • Duplication.

  • ​Duplicate documents - multiple distinct versions of the same document (not SharePoint versions), either as identical copies in different locations or "lazy versions" - documents with version numbers embedded in the name, eg meeting agenda V1.docxmeeting agenda V2.docx.

  • Duplicate managed metadata - identical or similar terms in the Term Store.  This can often arise when permission to create terms is delegated beyond a governance board - it's not unusual to find multiple Departments term sets, each with the same or similar terms.  In most cases these should be consolidated - but it's almost impossible to identify where these terms are in use.  The same applies to content types, site columns and other types - once they have been used, it's difficult to find out where.

  • Casual metadata. This term refers to the creation of Choce or Lookup columns that would be better defined as managed metadata, and often are created when there is already an appropriate term set.