Context: When most organizations think of file/data management, they tend to think in terms of individual files or dashboards. But this overlooks the fact that reading an old project document or viewing one metric outside of its larger context can sometimes lead people to the wrong conclusions. For instance, a team member might search for information on a country’s pharmaceutical market and find a whitepaper describing a shortage of antibiotics in the country five years ago, but not realize that the whitepaper was uploaded as research for a study explaining why the market was subsequently flooded with cheap drugs.
While you can say that people should know better and do their due diligence, we’ve all been in situations where we needed a fast answer and ended up working with faulty information. And the good news is there are several ways organizations can provide context along with the files and data.
In SharePoint, you can use Document Sets to keep related assets together. Document sets are collections of files that behave like folders in some respects, but can be tagged, moved around and used in automated workflows just like files. You can also create a custom “welcome” page for a document set providing more information about its contents. While it takes a bit of tedious setup to make document sets available as a content type, it’s usually worth the effort.
Another strategy to provide context in SharePoint is to not rely on search alone and let users find items by navigating to topic-specific pages or sites. While this creates a risk of fragmentation or duplication, you can keep things orderly by creating a single, shared document library then embedding filtered views of it on different pages and sites. So, for example, you might have a library with information on different types of investments, but provide a page with a filtered view of the main library, showing only items tagged “Real Estate”.