Having worked with SharePoint since 2003 we have seen companies implement the document management features of SharePoint in many ways. Some companies just opt for version control, others go much further by implementing records management and other SharePoint features. In many cases the use of document libraries is prolific with the focus being on the association of content based on the perspective of its origins (often departmental). This is where most organisations stop, with the implementation viewed as a job done because all the documents are now in SharePoint and covered by one or more of SharePoint’s document management features.
But no matter how well controlled documents are in respect to their publication, review and editorial cycle; it's very often that the end user, the consumer of the content, that is left to find publications that are new or updated on their own devices.
SharePoint does offer solutions to this with Alerts and custom workflows. These are either too granular to configure and administer on a large scale to cover all users or require skills that most end users just don’t have. This is why, after working with SharePoint for over 12 years, we decided to develop Legeris for SharePoint (Lēgeris pronounced Leg-ar-is is Latin meaning ‘to have read’).
Legeris implements processes that keep users informed of new and updated policies, procedures and any other key documents without the complexity of custom workflow or arduous administrative overhead to manage Alerts on a company wide scale.
Q. In your opinion what are the main challenges faced by companies needing to publish Polices and other key documents?
To save repetition the term key documents will be used in the remainder of this post to refer to Policies, Procedures and key company documents.
1. Ensuring the right employees read the key documents
As soon as a key document is approved and published its good practice to ensure that relevant employees have a chance to read it. Using SharePoint to control and publish is a great start but you still have no idea who’s read the document. Sending paper copies used to be a solution in years gone by but they typically just piled up on desks due to time constraints.
Legeris was created so companies maintain complete control over key documents by targeting specific groups of users with email based notifications. Notification is the Legeris equivalent of a SharePoint Alert but with some significant differences. Management of Notifications is configured through a single SharePoint list, simplifying administration. Configuring a notification is as simple as writing an email; use relevant groups or individual employees to receive the email. Our quick start templates for the emails will provide the user with the information including links to the document.
Legeris provides three levels of Notification:
Notification - an email with details of the key document that’s been added or updated. Employees are advised of new and update key documents and is a free for life feature of Legeris.
Acknowledge reading – the user is required, using a link in the email, to confirm they have read the document.
The email can be repeated over a designated period to cater for those users that are busy and may need a reminder or are just on leave.
Legeris keeps a full audit trail of each publication cycle detailing who did or did not acknowledge within the allocated time. A report email is sent to key document owners.
The free for life edition of Legeris includes five document limit with acknowledge notifications. Support for more than five is available via annual subscription, see here for details.
Read and Understood – using our enhanced SharePoint survey to test users understanding of the document with questions.
Legeris Questionnaires enhance the standard SharePoint Survey feature by allowing answers to be configured for each survey question. These answers are used to mark a user’s responses to the questions allowing the publication owner to gauge the level of understanding. This level of notification is the most comprehensive one offered by Legeris and should be used where there is a need to:
- mitigate litigation action for non-compliance with statutory or legislative compliance, or,
- just for your organisations internal compliance requirements.
This level of notification gives organisations’ the highest level of confidence in knowing their users’ have read and understood key documents. As with the other Lēgeris features a full audit trail is kept of each publication cycle. The free for life edition of Legeris includes five document limit with questionnaire notifications. Support for more than five is available via annual subscription, see here for details.
2. Smart user management for new starters and internal movements
All Legeris features can use a combinations of Active Directory (AD) user accounts or groups and SharePoint groups to email users. In addition, the support for AD distribution groups is supported as well as assigning individual users.
When Lēgeris enters its notification cycle, triggered by a new or updated document, it will ensure any new members of the groups are included in the email. When your company has starters or leavers and they get added to their appropriate AD groups, for example, the notification will reach it’s intended target.
3. How much effort does it take to get Legeris up and running
With over 30 years experience in implementing 3rd party solutions we're acutely aware that the setup for any solution can be arduous and time-consuming. Legeris administration has been designed to ensure that implementation effort is kept to a minimum but of course this does depend on how well structured your SharePoint is.
Legeris is administered through the creation of items in a Legeris settings list working with one or more (no limit) document libraries in a site collection.
Legeris installs as a SharePoint Service Application, like Search, allowing it to support documents in any part of a SharePoint farm.
To enable Legeris notifications involves the following steps to be taken:
- Identify all the document libraries that contain your key documents
- Enable the Legeris for SharePoint feature
- Enable Legerison the libraries identified in step 1
- Define the type of notification you want to send, who should receive it by assigning the appropriate groups. If you want to, tailor the email message using the rich text editor to style it or get the message you want across.
That’s the end of this post and I hope you’ve found it informative and thought provoking.