Generally speaking, information managers have two options for helping colleagues find documents: either you save specific files in specific locations, or, you let users search metadata in larger, more generic libraries. It’s becoming increasingly common for information managers and SharePoint administrators to lean towards the second option. The ‘big container’ approach has a lot going for it and many SharePoint experts now recommend it.
So, why is it better to search metadata from within one big container than to narrow down your hunt through lots of specific lists and libraries? Let’s first see why it’s better to take this approach, and then explore how you can search metadata to find files while offline.
Why it’s better to search metadata in big containers
In many ways, the best way to lose something is to file it. Let’s look at this point through traditional paper documentation:
Scenario 1: Imagine you bought a food mixer a year ago and it just broke. Naturally, you want to find the receipt and the warranty from the department store so you can take it back. Now, you know that you didn’t throw those documents out, but can’t remember in which of your different filing locations you stored them:
- It could be in the box marked receipts?
- Or, perhaps you need to go up to the loft and find the box the food mixer came in?
- Perhaps you need to look in your filing cabinet in the ‘household appliances’ folder
- If none of them work out, maybe it’s in the back of that drawer where you keep bits of junk and paperwork?
The more you look through all these locations, the more frustrated you get. You find yourself hunting high and low and, try as you might to search as serenely as possible, there’s always a niggle at the back of your mind that if it’s not in the box you’re currently rifling through, you’re just wasting your time.
Scenario 2: The alternative here is the ‘big container’ approach. If you simply chuck all the paperwork you ever receive in one single place, it might take a while to find the document you’re looking for, but you know that you will eventually find it in your big container. Sure, it’s not pretty, but you don’t ever need to worry that you’ll never find the paperwork.
In a SharePoint environment, the equivalent to Scenario 1 is to have many small team Libraries containing documents pertaining to specific projects or processes. The equivalent to Scenario 2 is to have one big Library where all of a department’s documents are stored. And, unlike the ‘paper world’, SharePoint lets you search metadata to discover files much more easily in the ‘big container’ model.
What if you want to locate some files while offline?
Now, the great thing about mobile working and the cloud is that you can sync data to your devices and work while offline using OneDrive for Business. However, if your company has taken the ‘big container’ approach to file storage, OneDrive for Business doesn’t give you the same power to use metadata to search for files. So, you’re basically stuck in Scenario 2 above, crawling through hundreds, or even thousands of documents with no idea as to whether you’re making progress. No thanks! The alternative? Easier 365.
Easier 365 replaces OneDrive for Business and lets you organise your files according to the metadata, to discover the file you’re after much more easily. It lets you do this with:
OneDrive for Business only uses Office promoted properties. Easier365 can do that too, but it has an interface which displays all the metadata you have added to your files, both on and offline. So, if you’re using the ‘big container’ approach and have added lots of metadata, you can display this custom metadata while offline within Easier 365.
OneDrive for Business cannot support offline views. By contrast, Easier365 has a ‘Views’ pull down so that the metadata ‘Views’ you already enjoy on SharePoint will display all the documents the same way offline under that view. This lets you rapidly discover all the documents with that metadata attached and find your file fast.
Say you are interested in a supplier called “J&D Accounts”. If you’ve already created a metadata field in SharePoint entitled: “Supplier Accounts”, this would let you display a sorted list of files with all your suppliers. With Easier365 you can also filter these columns, so if you choose the metadata filter ‘J&D Accounts’, you’ll now have a short schedule with all the documents relating to that supplier – all while offline. You couldn’t do this in OneDrive for Business – but you can in Easier365.
Once again, OneDrive for Business does not support Content Types. Easier365 does support them, however, so that when you click on ‘New’ and select a Word Document while in an HR Team Site, guess what? You get an HR Document template. This means that if you’ve taken the ‘big container’ approach to information management, Easier365 doesn’t pose a problem to your strategy.
Easier365 lets you use metadata to locate files from SharePoint while offline
The ‘big container’ approach is, in many ways, the most logical method of storing data in SharePoint. It makes it much easier to find files later on, cuts the stress of hunting through multiple libraries and means employees waste less time on document search and spend more time doing actual productive tasks. The beauty of offline syncing is that you can further boost employee productivity by letting them work even when they don’t have an Internet connection.
However, if you use Easier365, you can still search metadata while offline and relocate key documents fast. Reckon that’ll do the trick?
Download your free trial of Easier365 and try it out today!