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Document Sets in SharePoint 2010

Document Sets in SharePoint 2010

In many cases, a deliverable will have multiple files as part of a standard set of documents that are used together to fulfill the needs of the deliverable. Some examples would be:

  • A manufacturing company has documents related to design, testing, and fabrication for each product it manufactures.
  • A sales team has documents related to requirements, subcontractor quotes, estimating sheets, and the resulting proposal.
  • A marketing team has branding materials, brochures, and advertisements related to a new product launch.
  • An IT team has system specifications, project plans, testing plans, deployment plans, and user guides.

Commonly, the solution to group these documents together would be to create a folder and place all relevant documents with in the folder. When dealing with multiple projects, the name of the folder may not contain enough information to determine the right project. You then begin your search only having the ability to sort through name and date modified to help you along the way.

SharePoint 2010 has introduced a better method for storing these documents in one of their new features, Documents Set. A Document Set groups files together but also give you the option to create additional attributes associated with each set enabling you to find the set of documents you are looking for more efficiently. These attributes are known as “Metadata” which can be synchronized between the Document Set and all the files with in it.

To better understand the value of Metadata, think about trying to find a car in a parking lot. If you could remove all the cars that weren’t 4 doors, white, and Fords, you would be able to find the car easier and faster.

*Click the image above for a larger view

Organizations can customize multiple types of document sets allowing for a different set of metadata depending on their needs. An Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) may need a “Product Set” and identify each unique set by release date, product type, price category, etc. Additionally the same OEM could have a need for “Proposal Sets” with metadata for the status, sales person, quote date, product type, and quote amount.

*Click the image above for a larger view

There are also several other features that you can benefit from using a document set that make it easier to create and manage multiple document projects.

  • Capture Version – The current version of each file in the document set is captured allowing you to reference what version of any document one at the given time. An example would be when sending a Proposal Set to a customer. You would want to capture the set of documents used to finalize the proposal. Don’t worry, individual file history is still available!

  • Default Documents – A default document can be part of a document set so that each time a new document set is created, the default documents are already inside the set. An example would be for Product Sets to have a testing procedure template automatically created.

  • Welcome Page – A SharePoint web part page is created for each document set allowing for information about the set to be displayed to the members of the team who are working on it.

At DMC, we take full advantage of this new feature offered by SharePoint 2010 by creating a customized Document Set for each project that comes through our door. When sending the proposal set to a customer, we capture the set along with information of who it was sent to and on what date. Each file has version history along with set history to be able to quickly refer back to previous versions. All these features combined give us the ability to quickly locate information we are looking for and ultimately providing better service to our customers. If you want to learn more about Document Sets and other ways SharePoint can benefit your business, please contact me at Anjali.Bharadwa@dmcinfo.com.

Learn more about DMC's SharePoint document management services.

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