Too many users treat SharePoint and Office 365 as if it is merely a file cabinet. This degrades this powerful app into a mere filing system that fails to utilize 90% of it’s features. This post focuses on folders.

Folders and subfolders seem intuitive, but they cause costly problems for administration and migrations. There are several very important reasons why folders should be avoided, at least for the top two levels.

First is the cost of administering and migrating folder based lists & libraries. Each folder must be migrated\administered separately. You cannot do a “drag & drop” or mass changes/moves as folders are treated as sub libraries by Microsoft. I have seen just 4-5 levels of subfolders triple the cost of a migration or site cleanup.

Secondly, the “Group by” feature is too easy to use to make excuses about complexity. Granted, SharePoint can be tediously complex, but views and group by are just too easy to dismiss.

Group by, like views, allows items to be grouped into “categories” like folder headers. They are displayed with a plus sign which is easily clicked on to open (vs opening a folder). This allows you to view several categories “folders if you must) simultaneously. Easy-peasy! and it adds incredible flexibility and power to your reviewing of records.

Views are another tool. You can set filters to view only one year (if you have a column for year), or after a certain date, or grouped by clients (salesperson, etc.) or sorted a certain way. All kinds of options are available for viewing. Including a spreadsheet like view called Datasheet that allows bulk editing (say updating a field for bulk records via copy & paste).

Caution: Turn off any Required fields in List\library settings for bulk editing as it will require each record be updated instead of bulk paste.

There are more powerful ways to filter records, such as by permissions, owner\modified by, group (Dept\team), etc. These require a little more SharePoint savvy, but a good developer can do it for you very quickly (see me for a developer).

Group by and filtered views are easy once you know how. To get a good ROI and more utilization form your CMS (Office 365, SharePoint, WordPress, etc.) Learn to USE THE FEATURES!

Rant done! 😉

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