There’s a popular phrase in science and engineering that I’ve always loved: “Garbage in, garbage out.” It’s used to impress upon system developers that even the best code or software solution can’t create good information from bad input. And the same applies for robust, enterprise software solutions like SharePoint 2010. Though this software is an intuitive product with lots of features to make collaboration, automation and centralization possible, it’s only as good as the data you bring into it. So before moving to the SharePoint platform, it’s important to properly manage your migration and not bring any garbage with you.
For instance, migrating to this software is the perfect time to assess your organization’s data management and retention policy. How many weeks, months, and years need to pass before your data is no longer “living?” How many old documents—untouched for years—are currently bogging down your organization’s ability to find good information? Experienced SharePoint consultants can help you separate the old from the new and plan a retention policy that can be built right into SharePoint! Old or static documents can be moved to and flagged based on retention policy rules, keeping the most relevant data and information in front of your users.
SharePoint migrations are also the perfect opportunity to turn “garbage” documents into SharePoint gold by converting Excel spreadsheets into a list. Consider a classic example that I see all the time when helping my clients move to this software: The IT Assets spreadsheet. Most businesses assign their respective employees assets that must be tracked in a single place—usually an Excel spreadsheet held onto by an office manager. But you could just as easily track that information in a SharePoint list that contains all of the metadata for a given IT asset. By tracking this in a SharePoint list rather than a flat file on a shared drive, you get the advantage of tracking changes to each individual asset, the ability to sort and filter the list, an extended history of who was assigned each item, and more!
Not only can old “garbage” data bog down your users—it might actually lead to a less-efficient SharePoint solution. Certain types of files—like executable files and large files—can actually affect the performance of your software farm if not properly integrated and configured. Likewise, having to support non-friendly files can lead to bad design when it comes to the layout and topology of your farm. That’s why it’s very important to trust your SP software installation to SharePoint professionals.
SharePoint 2010 is made to streamline your business data and files and make collaboration a snap. In order to really create a worthwhile and powerful SharePoint solution, you need to make sure you’re controlling the amount of “garbage in” by utilizing content types, lists, retention polities and design best practices to their fullest extent. And as professional software consultants, we’d be happy to help!