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Moving from a shared network drive to SharePoint

The London Borough of Bexley is changing the way they manage their files and documents. They are replacing their shared network drive with SharePoint. This is a big project for their IT team and involves significant changes to how all staff at Bexley work.

Bexley have been rolling out SharePoint training to ensure staff are prepared. SDS have helped them to deliver some of these sessions. It has been our first experience of using SharePoint in this way and here are some of the things we really liked about it.

The Local Government Functional Classification Scheme

Bexley have used the local government functional classification scheme to organise all their files. As lots of us know, directorate and team names change fairly frequently, but those changes don’t always get reflected in our filling systems. We often end up saving documents under directorate or team names that don’t exist anymore.

The local government functional classification scheme aims to solve this. It is based on the functions a local authority carries out, for example ‘Children and families services’, ‘Housing’, ‘Communication’ etc. So even if our directorate and team names change, the functions remain the same. Effectively future proofing the file plan. The Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) own the intellectual property (along with the Michele Noad, the author). The Classification is a free resource for IRMS members to use and can be found on the IRMS website.

The Local Government Functional Classification Scheme. All functions listed with Icons.

Permissions, retention and Personal Identifiable Information (PII)

Everyone in the organisation can see all the functions (the first level) and the activities (second level) within a function. However, to access the ‘digital draws’ (third level – folders) within an activity you need to have the correct permissions. All the digital drawers have retention disposal built into them based on the current legislation, to ensure teams are not holding data longer than they are allowed to. Within SharePoint you can also easily select whether your document contains Personal Identifiable Information (PII) or not. All these things help to ensure the organisation is GDPR compliant.

Navigation and finding files

Because SharePoint is a web page, you can navigate easily using clickable links or the back button. It always creates a breadcrumb trail of where you are so you can’t get lost. If you are looking for files it has a great search function, it searches the name of the document or folder and even the content within the document, which is handy when you can’t remember what you called a document, but you know what it was about. You can also set up bookmarks (in Chrome) or favourites (in Edge) so that you can jump directly into the function/activity you need to.

Creating and saving documents

Creating folders and documents in SharePoint is very simple and any templates your organisation has, hopefully accessible ones, can be easily opened and used. And what we really love is that with SharePoint as soon as you create something, it automatically saves it. The autosave is on all the time, you can’t lose anything in SharePoint. So, if your machine decides to restart or crash, it will automatically save whatever you’re creating.

Sharing and collaborating

In SharePoint any number of people can collaborate on a live document at the same time. This is something that could be useful for things like updating excel spreadsheets when you can all be entering data and don’t have to wait for someone else to close the document down.

You can also share your document with other people in your organisation without having to email them a copy. Often to share a document with someone in a different area of the organisation we are used to emailing them a copy of the document. That person then opens it and saves it in their folders. They may then send it to someone else to comment, who will open it and save it in their folders. With SharePoint you can share the document via a link so everyone is opening the same document. This solves the issues of different versions of the document being duplicated and saved all over the file plan.

Version control and recycling

We all know that when you delete something off a shared drive it can be difficult to get it back, and often involves a call to IT. With SharePoint, there is a recycle bin where deleted documents go, and you can easily move them back. Also, if you are working on something which has autosaved, but you decide you want to go back to a previous version, you can do so easily using the SharePoint version history which shows all the previous versions of the document and who has made changes.

The way forward for file management?

We really enjoyed getting to grips with SharePoint and although it is a different way of working, the staff we trained at Bexley thought it was a positive move and were looking forward to trying out all the features.

If you would like to find out more about the SharePoint project at Bexley or would be interested in the SharePoint training sessions, please get in touch.