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[_] Sharepoint UX stories to share?

Ben Stevens. craptiger at
Tue Apr 30 09:01:03 BST 2019

That’s super useful Damian thank you!

To answer some of your questions:
Some of the challenges the customer has are that many of the staff are really not IT literate at all, yet still need to be able to find documents e.g. a general Health & Safety Policy document, or an obscure instruction manual for a valve.

We did look at manually creating pages but there are currently about 40 business areas e.g. Finance, Legal, IT, HR, each with up to 10 document “types” (so far) e.g. Policies, Process.  There are hundreds of “sites” (offices) some of which have documents specific to them e.g. Offices might have docs aimed specifically at “receptionists” and commercial sites might have docs aimed at “truck drivers”.  Then there are the business area types e.g. one branch of the company might sell widgets in shops and another might grow flowers.  

So depending on what part of the business you work in, you might want to search for a legal document at the Bristol flower growing office, or an HR policy for truck drivers who deliver widgets across the whole country (thus not filtering by location).  There are SO many permutations, and frustratingly (this will probably ring a bell with many of you) I only took over this project once the requirements had already been collated (badly) and the solution / supplier already chosen for me. 

To answer your other questions, document approval / collaboration / regular content reviews are very important, as is the ability to keep an audit trail of all changes made to any document for compliance.
They were also hoping to store document templates in the system to allow users to create records based on those templates e.g. a Word template holiday request form that the user clicks, fills in and then saves back to the DMS.  There are MANY of these, plus up to 100 infopath forms they were hoping to build in PowerApps but now realise they probably can’t.
Lastly, just to add to the potential pain - there’s very little in the way of internal support / knowledge so they’re really not keen on too much customisation.

Looking quickly at M-Files, it looks brilliant so I’ll suggest we look at that along with some other alternatives.

Thank you so much for the advice though


> Message: 5
> Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2019 17:11:13 +0100
> From: Damian Webber <damian.webber at>
> To: underscore <underscore at>
> Subject: Re: [_] Sharepoint UX stories to share?
> Message-ID:
> 	<CANzT8VGhN-SOUcP_3Modt6yCWJ8z+VSKERzWJggMxqM4Au8Ynw at>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"
> user friendly SharePoint....
> So now that SharePoint is finding its feet in O365 now that the other O365
> products are starting to mature, it seems that it's going to be: (1) A
> front-end for Intranet pages and (2) A document repository/shitty
> cloud-based shared folders.
> In time, the SharePoint roadmap will, I'm sure, allow orgs to maintain docs
> quite nicely - but not at the moment IMHO. The O365 roadmap is very
> cleverly tying folks to the platform especially as it's pretty cheap and
> the individual products are being regularly updated.
> But before I can suggest ways of doing things better (eg. You could focus
> more on making search available in different ways to allow staff to find
> stuff as you can set your own 'amazon-style' left column filters to find
> content - called 'refiners'), can you share what some of the current
> challenges the customer has?
> Perhaps your best bet - if you want to stay away from customisation - is to
> create a series of 'modern' pages. And use the "Highlighted Content" part
> to create views of documents based on your own filters. Now this takes some
> time to set up - you need to be wary of the effort to plan information
> architecture but you may well get a much richer experience - IF the content
> suits the method.
> If they have trouble finding content, it's often a fault with information
> governance. Content needs good tagging to be able it to be found well in
> the enterprise. (don't compare it to web content - good web content that we
> look for online is generally extremely well marked up, etc - there's even
> plenty of folk here that make a living out of ensuring their client's
> content can be found. Also, enterprise always has big issues with version
> control and deleting irrelevant content. It's these reasons that Document
> Management Systems are not well liked....
> I don't know if your customer has a wide range of departments or perhaps a
> very high volume of content authors.
> Does the customer need to be able to create new documents based on a set of
> well maintained templates - is workflow/approval important in publishing.
> I designed a custom SharePoint online solution for News content (internally
> for the company I currently work for) which looked great and worked well.
> The only trouble was that the comms team(s) wanted to add features and do
> stuff with the site and unfortunately there was no support for the system
> once it went live  - in big firms like mine, the developers move onto new
> accounts and there they stay - one of the dangers of a custom sharepoint
> solution without a dedicated team of peeps to support it.,
> If you have a blank canvas in terms of technology, then look at M-Files for
> Document Management. I've had a good look recently and also turned down a
> job there (I really like the product but wasn't ready to specialise so
> tightly with a single product). You basically store content by "what it is"
> rather than (like in SharePoint) "where it is". I liken it to a Document
> Management System with the power of a relational database. It takes
> management again but that's no bad thing as the effort is always rewarded.
> You can also manage content outside of M-Files within M-Files as well. Have
> a look at it - there's a 30 day trial
> *Damian Webber*
> @damianwebber <> | 07590 807 252
> On Mon, 29 Apr 2019 at 16:07, Ben Stevens. <craptiger at> wrote:
>> Anyone out there with any experience they can share (no pun intended) of
>> building a user friendly interface to sharepoint for the purposes of an
>> enterprise document management system?
>> Currently having a very challenging time with a Sharepoint development
>> consultancy who seem to think an out of the box deployment with minimal
>> configuration will offer my client a satisfactory user experience.
>> As an example, my view (and that of the project sponsor) is that forcing
>> our (not very IT literate) users to use the little ?funnel? icon and column
>> headings to filter / search for content is inadequate.  Surely it?s
>> possible to build a super user friendly front end without totally breaking
>> the Microsoft upgrade path (it?s sharepoint 365 / online).
>> Imagine if Amazon used sharepoint search / filters rather than their left
>> column filters that ask you for Size, Colour, Style, Price Range etc?
>> That?s pretty much what we?re being told is our only option and I?m
>> struggling to believe it?s really that crap?!
>> Alternatively if anyone can recommend any better alternatives that offer
>> document collaboration & approval workflows, version control, compliance
>> tracking, notifications etc I?d love to hear of them.
>> Thanks
>> --
>> underscore_ list info/archive ->
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