A SharePoint document management system refresh has helped create new working efficiencies for a leading foster agency

Akita provided a Microsoft SharePoint document management system refresh for an independent fostering agency with offices located across England.

The foster agency used one Microsoft SharePoint Online instance - configured as a document management system – to store files for all of its offices.

Over time, and as a result of growth, the agency’s SharePoint setup had become overly complex. Folder structures, modified by users from all offices, had resulted in a system architecture that was slowing staff down when trying to find key documents. The foster agency approached Akita for assistance.

Following consultancy with senior staff about their end goals, we decided to rebuild the instance from scratch in line with digital and UX best-practices.

We began by exporting all files out of the existing SharePoint setup, then recreated the instance to provide a fresh start.

Based on observations of how individual staff and departments used the platform, we restructured the SharePoint system’s navigation with a tab system to create a clear divide between categories of information. All data was then reimported into the right locations and tagged to make it easier to find both through search and document filtering.

We also branded the SharePoint instance with the agency’s colours and logo, giving it a more friendly and attractive appearance.

User permissions

Files were now in order and an improved structure in place within the document management system. It was now crucial that steps were taken to ensure that the new architecture could not be altered by users at will.

Users have had their ability to create new folder structures limited, preventing the creation of any new ‘nests’ of folders.

As a long-term partner to the agency, Akita has retained the administrative rights to the agency’s SharePoint system. Any requested changes to the overall architecture now have to be directed to us and approved by senior staff before being made.

We have also improved document security within SharePoint. Working with management, we created a user access permission matrix. The matrix determines the access that each department - and individual - should have to documents held within SharePoint.

Using security groups, we were then able to restrict the folders that each user sees in SharePoint. This makes sure that staff only see the folders that contain documents relevant to them (only the finance staff can see accounts records for example).

Monitoring has also been applied to all files, so a record is available of who has accessed documents, if they have made changes, and when. Along with making documents more secure, it provides a valuable record should changes to documents need to be undone.

Benefits of the SharePoint Document Management System Refresh

The new SharePoint document management system has delivered a significantly improved user experience. Documents are much easier to find within the new architecture, saving staff time. Staff from all offices can also work on documents simultaneously if needed, increasing efficiency.

The agency has also benefitted from the secure sharing functionality built-in to SharePoint Online. Links to sensitive documents within SharePoint can be shared with local authorities (as opposed to the documents needing to be emailed or posted).

Access can be password protected for added security, and documents set to be read-only or editable. Once work is complete, access to the document in SharePoint Online can be revoked for those that no longer need it, denying further access.

Overall, the SharePoint document management system is now much more useful and user-friendly for the organisation, with an attractive appearance that promotes greater use across all offices.

For more information on our Microsoft SharePoint services, please get in touch.

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