9 Replies Latest reply: Mar 13, 2012 2:34 PM by ccarcallas RSS

    Tips for replicating multi-level SharePoint folder structure

    ccarcallas

      Hi all,

       

      I have an organization that wants to migrate over 500 docs from SharePoint. Their must have is to preserve the folder structure in sharepoint, many of which are 3 or 4 levels deep. I've proposed a category structure in conjunction with tagging to organize their documents, but this will only provide 2 levels of "folders".

       

      Also, they can't stand SharePoint so the SP Connector is not an option.

       

      Any suggestions?

       

      Thanks,

      Christine

        • Re: Tips for replicating multi-level SharePoint folder structure
          Jesse Kane

          Yes, my suggestion is don't do it!  As a former management consultant, who spent countless weeks "optimizing document organizational filing hierarchies" on almost every project, folders don't work.  The only people who can easily find a document in a three to four level filing system are the people who designed the folder system. But giving up the folder is especially hard for people trained in traditional project management.  I often ask my teams to imagine what's it's like to click through 3 or 4 folders hunting for the "project proposal template" and then imagine simply typing the word "project proposal" into the search box and having the template pop up in the search results.

            • Re: Tips for replicating multi-level SharePoint folder structure
              mdcrocker

              Hi,

              As a certified Project Management Professional who has been leading projects for 10 years, I think there is a better way to state it.  It is not the traditional training but the experience and approach. Good project managers focus on the process and results, not the paperwork.  There are people that are the folder types and those that are the search types.  Folder types want to see a structure, even if it is cumbersome and not working well.  Search types look for things based on keywords and phrases.

               

              The key thing to point out is that finding it quickly is the main goal.  As Jesse points out, only the person that puts the document into a folder knows why they selected that one.  We also find that the same document can fit into 2 or more folders.  That is wne the power of tags and categories come in.

              Mike

              • Re: Tips for replicating multi-level SharePoint folder structure
                Kevin Jones

                I have to +1 Jesse - Don't.  I have had MANY people ask for the same thing and I have never caved in and tried to do this.  Best would be to teach them a better way to organize information.  Use TAG &/or Categories. It may be new, but will be better for them in the long run.

              • Re: Tips for replicating multi-level SharePoint folder structure
                Jennifer Thorimbert

                I also stress that we can't replicate what is in SharePoint, and look at other ways to organize the info instead. Here are two ways that I have helped users set up something similar:

                 

                • Communities with sub-communities (one level down) and then categories (the second level down). This works if there are 2-5 main sub-categories (which would be the sub-communities) that are very clearly separate from each other. (If your sub-communities would be 1. Policies and 2. Procedures, these aren't necessarily clearly separate in your users' minds. If the sub-communities would be 1. Product A and 2. Product B, and everyone is familiar with the two products, then this will work.)
                • A combination of categories, tags, and a manually-created TOC document. We have used this quite successfully. The TOC document is just a list of links through to the documents that you have, and it is arranged with bulleted lists that show the structure visually. You can even use the View Document widget to feature this on your community's homepage if it will help your users navigate to their content. I think some people's brains just understand this way to find information better - and they'll bookmark this page and use it often even if you don't display in View Document.
                • Re: Tips for replicating multi-level SharePoint folder structure
                  Tracy Maurer

                  I have conversations about this and ask people if they have ever sat at someone else's computer and tried to find things. I talk about the time I sat down at our home computer (which my husband had set up). First of all, he had folders set up on the desktop, which is not how I work. But then, he had things nested six ways till Sunday. Was I going to find the icon to start Word in "Business Software", or under "Microsoft"? Would our financial information go under "Household", or "Tracy"?

                   

                  When people insist that they need more structure, I try to convince them to use categories. One of the most helpful things here, and it goes back to my previous point, is that you can "locate" a document in more than one category.

                    • Re: Tips for replicating multi-level SharePoint folder structure
                      Nikki Bussard

                      I agree with all of these points except this one:

                      The only people who can easily find a document in a three to four level filing system are the people who designed the folder system.

                      Unless they are librarians, I don't even believe that the people who designed the system can find the document again.

                       

                      I also second the point that search only is not enough. While I highly doubt that instant easy access is required for all 500 documents, there are some things that you just need to get to directly. For example, I never search for Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.--I type the address directly or follow a bookmark. Jennifer's Table of Contents approach seems like a good backup system, as is (I imagine, because I am not on Jive 5 yet) Ryan's Quick Links plug-in. If you can find the few documents that they really need to access all the time and ensure there is an easy way to get to them, it may be easier to let the file structure go.

                      • Re: Tips for replicating multi-level SharePoint folder structure
                        ccarcallas

                        Thank you all for the responses! Definitely agree that the folders are the old way of organizing content. We will spend some time planning a category/tag structure that is simple and intuitive for everyone to use, and in due time the end users will find that this is a much more social and flexible approach.