Strange title for a blog post perhaps, but it fits the post topic perfectly. What am I talking about? The content that has true business value currently sitting in and amongst a sea of other stuff on a corporate file repository.
Note: A corporate file repository refers to any location where legacy content has been stored in an organization: shared network drives, personal file shares, and even other cloud storage.
The sea of other stuff I’m referring to can largely be separated into 2 buckets:
- Redundant, Obsolete, Trivial (ROT)
Organizations often find it easy to ignore this content, partly because it is “out of sight, out of mind” but also because to tackle it is a (really) big undertaking. Let me repeat that… a REALLY big undertaking.
To demonstrate the scale of the problem, imagine the physical manifestation of this electronic mess sitting in piles on peoples’ desks in the form of papers, photos, backup media, DVDs (depending how old the music is ;), etc. ). In addition to it being a fire hazard, it would be very messy and items within the piles could easily be lost. As a business leader, if you walked around the office and saw these piles, you would likely be appalled at the mess and want it to be cleaned up. This same reaction, however, typically doesn’t occur in the electronic world.
Until you want to migrate it into SharePoint…
I often hear the statement “We’ll clean it up after we migrate”, but let’s be honest – the likelihood of that happening is low. If there’s no time to clean it up before the migration, there is likely even less afterwards. The saying “garbage in garbage out” has never been more applicable than in this situation – we don’t want the SharePoint environment to be a replacement for a file dumping ground. If this happens, you run the risk of end-users being disappointed in their SharePoint experience.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the content we should be leaving behind before we start our migration.
It’s time to take out the eTrash!
This is content having no business value whatsoever to the organization. It can include things like old backup files, old application setup files, non-copyrighted music files, personal photos, etc. I’ve done a fair number of migrations and have seen a lot of this type of content.
Don’t bring the eTrash into SharePoint – it will clutter up search results and consume unnecessary space. Although it can take a really long time to clean it up, it is a necessary step in any migration effort. Unless you can dedicate the time to do this manually, I recommend leveraging a tool on the market to help identify some of this type of content (particularly if you have a lot to go thru).
Remove the ROT!
Let’s break this down into its 3 components: Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial.
Redundant: you don’t want duplicate content coming into SharePoint. There are a couple of reasons why this is a bad idea:
- search results will be cluttered with duplicates which is not a good end-user experience
- for compliance reasons, you now have more content to manage than you need to. For example, instead of having 1 customer document to get rid of, you have all duplicate copies as well. This can be a significant compliance risk.
Obsolete: if the content is already obsolete, why bring it into SharePoint? There are controls within SharePoint to dispose of the content when it is time to do so, but why bring in content that is already at the end of its disposition life cycle? Get rid of it.
Trivial: this includes the myriad of files that exist as a by-product of getting work done throughout your day that holds no business value on their own. This could include transitory files, working copies, notes, etc. File hoarders tend to keep a lot of this type of content and their network share ends up being a dumping ground to house it.
So… if we take out the eTrash and get rid of the ROT, what are we left with?
THIS is what we want to bring into SharePoint. Once we’ve identified the subset of documents holding business value, only then should we start to build out a smart information architecture inside SharePoint to house the content and to leverage search to make it discoverable.
Good luck with your cleanup! Easier said than done, but the end-user’s SharePoint experience depends on it.
Thanks for reading.