Print Management Insider Blog

Document Management Chaos? 3 Simple Buckets To Bring Order and Clarity

Posted by Sean Halliday on Feb 8, 2017 8:00:00 AM


Picking up on our pledge to make Document Management more simple, I’d like to focus on a fairly basic concept of organizing…creating groups of ‘like materials’. When organizing documents within an organization, we can begin by simply categorizing information into 3 buckets: 

Bucket 1: Everyone in the company can see the information
Bucket 2: Only members of a specific Team can see the information
Bucket 3: Only members of a specific Project can see the information

Before we go any further, we should clarify the difference between a Team and a Project. A Team is a group of people focused on more than one objective or task. They often stay together for a longer period of time, completing goal after goal. A Project is more ‘singular’ in focus. Here, a group of people have an objective (for example, provide a service to a client, manage an event, build an asset) and once delivered, the Project is complete. While maintaining the information afterwards is important, the people working on the Project are often redeployed to other objectives. Why bother defining the difference? Because you always end up with WAY MORE Projects than you do Teams, and this affects how you architect your solution (more on that later).

Now that we’re thinking in terms of Teams and Projects, your next task is to take every document in the company and place it in one of the following three buckets.

Here is how we organize information based on the ‘Three Buckets’ philosophy.

Bucket 1  Everyone can see the information: In this bucket we put all the information that everyone in the company can access. Think “HR Benefits forms”, “Time Off Request Procedures” and “Expense Reports.” There is nothing confidential about this information (within the boundaries of the company) and the easier and faster you can provide access to this information, the better. Less time is wasted on redundant calls to HR and Accounting and people enjoy the ‘self-service’ ability offered to them. 

Bucket 2  Only Team members can see the information: This bucket contains Team information, and you have to be a member of the Team to interact with the information. Examples of the information contained in this bucket include Executive Team information, Board of Director information as well as information for Teams such as the Social Committee, HR Department and an Audit Committee (Of course you can guess that we’re going to sub-divide this bucket into numerous other buckets for privacy reasons, but the top-level sorting we’re doing simply starts with classifying information that belongs to Teams).

Bucket 3 – Only members of a Project can see the information: In this bucket we assemble information related to Projects, and like the Team bucket, you have to be associated with the Project to be able to see the information. Project members may be within or outside the company and people will often have different views of the information and different permissions to perform tasks. Examples of the kinds of information assembled in the Project bucket include Construction Projects, Asset management, Acquisition/Divestiture activities, Event operation… basically anything your company calls a “Project.” Like the Team bucket above, more than one bucket will ultimately be used to delineate one Project bucket from another- but start by identifying what information is related to Projects.

Okay, you got me! There are more than 3 buckets. Now that we’ve taken EVERY document in the company and sorted them into one of the three buckets described above, we can choose to do some sub-sorting to make document access even easier and more streamlined for users.

Since NeoStream uses Microsoft SharePoint to deliver Enterprise Document Management solutions, we’ll now introduce the concept of Sites. A SharePoint Site is simply a web page with information and documents contained within it. We sort through each bucket defined above to figure out what Sites should contain what information. It’s pretty simple, here’s how it works:

Bucket 1 – Department Sites: These are the ‘everyone can see the information’ buckets. We create a Site for every logical grouping of information. SharePoint uses the term “Department Sites”, but don’t worry too much about nomenclature right now. What we’re going to do is sort through our first bucket and create sub-groups. Companies often create Sites that match their corporate org chart: HR, IT, Finance, Office Services etc, but you can also create Sites for Groups or initiatives you’re okay with everyone having access to (like a United Way Campaign Site). When we place information that everyone can see on these Department Sites, it’s exactly the same as walking into the physical department and asking for help…the Site is there for all to access. Department Sites become a logical extension of our physical world – if you’re looking for HR information, go to the HR Site. Simple.


Bucket 2 – Team Sites: As above, this bucket contains Team information, and it’s logical that we’d sub-divide the big “Team” bucket into specifically named Team Sites. By creating a Site for every Team, we effectively put a lock on each Team’s door and only give keys to Team members. As above, the Executive Team has a Site, the Board has a Site, as do the Social Committee, HR and Audit Committee. It’s not uncommon for each Department in the company to also have a Team Site, as much of the work done is not created for ‘whole company consumption’ (at least not while it’s ‘work in progress’). As Team members come and go, they are added to, and taken off, the Site membership list. Easy.

Bucket 3 - Project Sites: This bucket contains all Project related information. Given that companies often have dozens, hundreds and even thousands of Projects on the go at any one time, we create a Site for every Project. Project Sites employ advanced security, enabling members to view and interact with information differently based on their role. Each Site is designed to support document management, team collaboration, project KPI’s, integration with other systems and reporting. If you’re working on a Project, you go to the Project Site. Smart.

Obviously this isn’t the only way to organize corporate information, but it’s certainly one that works very well. And by ‘works’ we mean people understand; and more importantly; USE the system under this organizational philosophy. It is ‘place-based’ enough for everyone to relate to. 

If you’d like to see what it looks like to organize all company information under the “Three Bucket” methodology, ask us for a demo of Intranet 4 Everyone™ , NeoStream’s SharePoint based software solution. I think you’ll be amazed at how simple this can really be!

We’d like to hear ideas from you too! Do you have any content you think won’t fit into one of these three buckets? Is there a fourth bucket? Are there other organizational principles that you’ve used that have nothing to do with buckets? Be sure to leave your comments and insights!

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Topics: neostream, SharePoint, Document Management, content management

Sean Halliday

Written by Sean Halliday

Sean is President at NeoStream Technologies, a Print Audit company

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