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4 Ways to Sort Your SharePoint Data Out

4 Ways to Sort Your SharePoint Data Out

Issues of data consolidation, security, and governance are high on many IT agendas. There are good reasons why these could and should be addressed within SharePoint. Here we look at what you should be doing.

Many in IT are very aware that they need to resolve multiple data issues. Typically, these include consolidating distributed data into a single location, tightening security and improving information governance. Alongside this, IT leaders are very aware of the value gained from better managing the business’ flow of information. IT has a pivotal role in facilitating this process.

These are huge topics, so here we will look specifically at the role SharePoint can play in this.

Why focus on SharePoint for data?

For most, SharePoint is an existing technology: already licenced, known by IT, thoroughly integrated with Microsoft 365, and an established part of IT’s security model. Excellent though these reasons are, there’s another even more compelling reason.

SharePoint plays an increasingly pivotal role in your Microsoft infrastructure. More and more of your Microsoft infrastructure is centred on SharePoint, with a host of new dependencies heading our way. Capitalising on this requires the right information architecture and data hygiene policies to be in place. But most organisations don’t have these.

Microsoft isn’t blind to this. It’s why it’s talking about the evolution of your infrastructure as ‘the age of SharePoint’: this highlights both its future importance and the need to put your SharePoint house in order, now.

There are four aspects to this that we’ll look at here.

1. Having the right information architecture (IA)

IA is crucial to a sound SharePoint implementation. Often, SharePoint was implemented with a ‘lift and shift’ approach, replicating old file server or network drive structures. Though perhaps helpful then, this approach sterilises SharePoint’s real power and is increasingly at odds with your needs

You need an IA that organises and categorises data in a logical and intuitive way, and that is readily searchable. With search set to become the most important part of this, through the growth of artificial intelligence.

Start by considering your business’ requirements and objectives, as well as user needs. Look also at how data is stored, how it’s used, who needs to access it, and the processes involved.

This can then help guide you to creating the right structure of sites, subsites, libraries, lists, folders, and metadata. The latter is especially important for search.

2. Enable native security controls

SharePoint already has the in-built security controls and access management mechanisms to protect business data from unauthorised access, disclosure, alteration, and deletion. They just need to be enabled correctly, which many aren’t.

With the approach of AI (artificial intelligence) driven search, permissions will become vital. This means ensuring that employees can’t access content that they shouldn’t. Equally, they need to be able to access all the content that is useful to them.

Again, to work well, this requires time to be invested in defining permissions, access levels, and role-based security policies, to control access to sensitive data.

3. Utilise SharePoint’s governance and compliance functionality

Today’s SharePoint has the functionality to provide comprehensive data security and governance.

Once again, you must first define your needs. This enables you to set the policies and procedures necessary to govern the use, management, and lifecycle of business data. These should also reflect relevant regulatory requirements, industry standards, and internal policies.

A lot of the hard work involved in managing your data lifecycle can be automated. With the right rules in place, archiving, retention, and disposal of data will take care of itself. You can also automate the application of data permissions, sensitivity labelling, and metadata.

Additionally, enabling SharePoint’s version control features, will provide a complete audit trail of changes to data over time. While implementing check-in/check-out functionality, version history, and document locking will prevent conflicts and ensure data integrity.

Governance and compliance are inextricably linked, and SharePoint can make light work of enforcement. Ensure that data loss prevention, information rights management, encryption, and auditing features are enabled to enforce and monitor compliance.

4. Improve the flow of information

Although productivity can seem rather ethereal to IT, it is something that IT can have a direct impact on. Enticingly, with SharePoint this is something that can be achieved with an existing technology and as a by-product of addressing consolidation, security, and governance agendas.

A well-structured and readily searchable SharePoint will improve access to information, facilitate improved collaboration, and can prevent silos from ‘reinventing the wheel’.

Plus, SharePoint’s excellent workflow capabilities enable business processes to be streamlined and automated. Implementing workflows, approval processes, and notifications can significantly ease document review, approval, and dissemination.

Ensuring success

There’s one other aspect to all this and it can have a huge impact on success: training and support.

When employees understand the ‘what’ and ‘why’, most are supportive. If requirements aren’t onerous and are well communicated there tends to be a high level of buy-in. Train employees how to effectively manage and control business data within SharePoint, and provide tips and guidance on organising, sharing, and securing data.

Sorting your data out is unlikely to be easy, but with a sound process and the right expertise on your side it can be readily achieved. It provides a sound structure into which previously separate data can be consolidated. As well as also neutralising ongoing problems, and a source of future troubles, it offers the opportunity to deliver real benefits to your organisation. What’s more, you can achieve this with SharePoint

We can help you sort your SharePoint data out

Book a no-obligation introduction to find out how.

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