One of the most powerful features within SharePoint 2010 for document management is the Content Organizer. This feature allows for the automatic routing of documents to different libraries and folders within those libraries based on pre-defined rules.
The core strength of this tool is the management of document libraries and the flow of documents into these locations. Building upon the SharePoint 2007 Records Center, it expands routing to allow for the use of managed metadata as a key document property. Documents can be routed to document libraries within other Site Collections if the Content Organizer is activated in both the sending and receiving Site Collection. A threshold can also be set for the folders within a document library to limit the number of items it can hold. When the threshold is met, a new folder is automatically created and configured with a pre-formatted naming convention.
In order for routing to occur, routing rules must be in place. Creation of routing rules is based on content types and can contain multiple conditions. Using managed metadata in conditions allows for a centralized source to manage large amounts of descriptive document information. Routing rules are stored in the Content Organizer Rules list for ease of creation and editing.
Sample Content Organizer Rule Setting
Successful use of the Content Organizer depends on several key factors. A few suggestions are as follows:
Gain a keen understanding of how your users organize documents.
Understanding how users organize documents is critical to laying out the technical foundation for routing. Determine the folder structure and folder naming conventions currently used by your organization. Example: If users in the Sales department store documents by client name and then by document type, use this folder structure as baseline for determining if this structure is effective or if another structure is better suited for your centralized document libraries.
Discover the document types and descriptions for documents.
Document types can range from drafts and memos to finalized estimates and proposals. Users also refer to these documents by different descriptions. Example: A proposal could be referenced as “Microsoft Proposal”, “Proposal 2-22-10”, “Proposal V5”, or “Proposal – Final Version”. It is imperative to come to a consensus document type and description naming convention for documents. Doing so will make it easier for users to properly tag and describe documents. They will also be able to locate and access these documents quickly and effectively.
Use managed metadata to properly tag documents.
Once you have determined the document type and description naming convention, use these terms to populate the appropriate managed metadata term set. Use managed metadata to control the metadata placed on documents. This ensures that documents will have the correct description and be routed to the correct location. Example: Users open document templates which include metadata for client name and document type. Their choices for client name and document type are determined by the managed metadata values in SharePoint. Once they select the client name and document type, the document will be routed to the appropriate folder.
Create meaningful folder structures and routing rules.
Create a folder structure that reflects how your users should organize and access documents. Be specific as possible and avoid the use of general buckets for documents. Your routing rules should be based on predefined managed metadata. Example: If the client name is “Microsoft” and the document type is “Proposal” route the document to the “Proposals” folder within the “Microsoft” folder.
With the Content Organizer in place, and the logical aspect of where and how you want to route documents determined, great efficiencies come into play as documents are sent to the correct location and users no longer ask the question “Where is that document?”
This article was originally written by Kelly Rusk. It is moderated currently by Peter Hurth.