SharePoint: Get the business to own the content types


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Editor’s note: Contributor Ben Henderson is Manager of Sevices at Colligo Networks. Follow him @ben3003

On a recent engagement we were tasked with building out a content model that would satisfy departments involved in the first phase of a SharePoint implementation.

The primary aim of the process was fourfold:

  1. Brief candidates from all departments through an information sheet asking them to consider the types of documents they use on a day-to-day basis.
  2. Assess their current knowledge and ability through follow up interviews.
  3. Provide an example of what we are looking for.
  4. Provide them with a starting point to work from in order to build up the content model.

I am not saying that this is the perfect solution but I believe that there is a fine balance between handholding, and leaving them to sink or swim. This approach seemed to fit right in the middle of that and worked well with the strategy of the business.

Why did we take this approach really? It was basically because we felt we needed the business to own the content model.

If we had created it for them then there would have been adoption issues, push back, and inaccuracy in the information within the content model. But the issue with getting the business to own the content model is that they need to understand what a content model is. Something even IT Pro’s struggle to understand.

I have seen issues with the understanding of content types. The business likes to define content types as file types (doc, pdf, xls, jpg) and there is a big knowledge jump needed to go from there to full understanding of the concept.

One technique that we used with great effect is asking them to bring some files that they currently have stored and would say they were “business documents”.

An example of this was Invoice_for_Enron_Oct_2012_Final_Signed.pdf and gave us a great starting point to begin to explain how content types are built up.

Explaining that the content type is Invoice, and the other bits of information are properties that pertain to the invoice that was a great start to the conversation.

Perhaps try it with the documents you have saved on your desktop? Or do you use other simple techniques to share with the community?

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