How to Design the Most Effective Sharepoint Document Library

With recent updates from Microsoft, we’re seeing increased enthusiasm from clients wanting to either adopt, or increase their use of SharePoint Online for document storage and collaboration. The recent release of the new Onedrive for Business sync client has also remove one of the last remaining roadblocks for a number of organisations (ie: because it now actually works properly!).  

When moving from traditional ‘shared folder’ type file storage to SharePoint, the new concept of Document Libraries is introduced. One way to think of a Document Library is simply as a top level folder under which  you can create sub-folders for document storage.  

For some people, the instinct will be to create a single Document Library to replace the older shared folder, and dump all existing content across to that in exactly the same structure as it was. From a technical perspective, there’s nothing stopping you from doing this, however it’s generally not the most effective approach to using SharePoint and Document Libraries.  

Instead, I’d encourage you to take a step back, and consider more about the content that you’re looking to put into your document libraries, and how you might want to work with it. For example, if you need to secure some of your data to only a subset of users (eg: payroll details) then you may be better off creating a document library just for Payroll.  

If you intend to use the Onedrive sync clien to syncronise your document library content to your local computer (which is quite common) then by separating your content into separate document libraries you can choose which content to syncronise without having to syncronise absolutely everything.  

Here is a simple decision chart to help you get started in thinking more about the structure of your SharePoint Document Libraries. If you would like more help with this, please let us know and we’re happy to talk it through with you.  

Flowchart: Designing your SharePoint Document Libraries

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When not looking at ways to use technology to create a competitive advantage for his clients and build better businesses, Ben is a husband, busy father of boys, avid gardener, and keen runner and cyclist.

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