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June 22, 2022

3 Free Document Management Features in SharePoint You Already Pay for

If you’re not using SharePoint to its fullest potential, you’re missing out on a powerful tool that can help manage your documents and keep your team organized. With so many features available, it can be hard to know where to start. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the key features built-in to SharePoint that will make your life easier.


In your workplace, are users required to follow complex file naming conventions? Do they move documents from one folder to the next to indicate a status change? This type of document management is critical, but it’s also time-intensive and prone to errors. SharePoint – the tool you use every day to manage your documents – can help manage your tasks and expose projects in dynamic views in Teams.  

SharePoint isn’t just a place to host documents in the cloud. There are a host of out-of-the-box features that can make it easier to understand what type of documents you have, what stage of work they’re in, and enable easy access for users in Teams  

The problem is that there are so many functionalities native in SharePoint that it becomes overwhelming to know where and how to start. It’s often like staring at a blank canvass. At Orchestry, we help unlock those capabilities so M365 makes sense for the work you do. Join us as we explain how to get started with SharePoint, and learn the tools you already have access to can make your work easier.  

In this article:

  • Learn how Metadata reduces manual organization and allows you to unlock Views
  • See how custom Views reduce chaos in your document management
  • See how to use Views to integrate the best of SharePoint into your Teams collaborative experiences

Managing Your Documents

SharePoint offers a number of great document management features that are ready to go out of the box:

  • Metadata
  • Views
  • Version History
  • Approvals
  • Permissions
  • Syncing

These features reduce the manual intervention required by end-users. This automation helps maximize adoption while minimizing the mistakes inherent in manual processes. Using these features also enables you to sync SharePoint to Teams, creating digital workspaces with collaboration baked-in. Here, we’ll focus on three of the simplest features to get started and demonstrate how they can make a huge difference in how you manage documents.

1. Metadata

Even the best-laid file naming and folder system can’t compete with a well-implemented (and ideally automated) metadata strategy. Metadata is extra information about a document that helps to sort and identify attributes of the file. Data such as who created it and when it was created are all common types of meta data. In SharePoint, some of these fields are auto-populated, and others are there for you to provide input.  When used correctly, metadata can help with:

  • Search
  • Filtering
  • Views
  • Reorganization
  • Flexibility

You’re probably familiar with metadata such as file name, size, version, and created/modified information like user and date. But did you know there are 14 different metadata categories available? However, we don’t think you should try to use them all. Furthermore, while metadata is useful, its use should always be balanced against the effort to keep it populated and up to date. People will NEVER fill in 10 pieces of metadata simply to upload a document. And for your business, it probably wouldn’t make sense. There are common types suitable across nearly all libraries, but we recommend starting small, with 1 or 2 fields such as:

Document Type

This helps you label documents by ‘type’ such as invoice, contract, policy, and order form. Specifying Type makes searching through documents easier and illustrates the content of each without opening it or relying on complicated file naming.

Metadata Document Type

Document Status

Chances are many of your documents go through standard steps in their lifecycle. For example, it might look like a document moving from Draft to Under Review to Approved to ‘In Market’ The system you’re using to move documents also likely rests on a series of handoffs that make up a system which requires a lot of manual upkeep from end-users and project managers. Even the most efficient manual systems require a ‘buy-in’ from everyone using it, and it doesn’t take much to break these systems down. But what if marking a document’s status didn’t require changing the file name or moving it to a different folder? In SharePoint, you can indicate the status of a document with a simple click. 

Metadata Document Status

Document Status is one of our favourite uses for SharePoint metadata. Because it’s highly customizable, you can find what works for your team. We do caution against going too far with status options, as this can undercut its ability to show what’s happening at a glance: 

General Metadata Tips

We have only touched on two types of metadata above, but there are nearly a dozen choices and text fields you can add to your documents. In terms of general rules, we think these are important to stick to when starting to use metadata as part of your SharePoint strategy: 

  • Choice Fields > Text Fields
    Want to avoid seeing doubles of labels such as ‘Approved’, ‘approved’ and ‘Final’? Use choice fields rather than text to limit user choices. 
  • Keep choices short, obvious and exclusive
    Use intuitive metadata options to avoid the need for extra training or reference guides for users. 
  • Dates should be defaulted to today or a formula 
  • Use folders to default metadata based on location 
  • Apply simple color-coding to your Choice columns 


Views are less of a feature and more of a setting in SharePoint—they help users navigate content quickly and easily. When you open a Document Library, you’re already experiencing its standard ‘View’, which shows everything. But you can create customized views for yourself by using Views to filter and sort the information available in your lists and libraries. That means organizing your documents without creating a flood of folders.

Example: When used in conjunction with metadata, you can create a View that automatically shows you invoices (so marked by Document Type) that are outstanding (so marked by Document Status).

It’s easy to see why Views can be overwhelming to start using, as there are simply so many options that are highly customizable. You can not only sort these documents in myriad ways, but also display them in a number of different types of Views (e.g., List vs. Tiles) which can then be further customized using custom formatting.

Whatever your stylistic decisions, one of the most exciting things about using Views is bringing them into Microsoft Teams so that you can create a well-organized, one-stop workplace for your end users.

3. SharePoint & Microsoft Teams Document Management 

Did you know that you can view documents in teams? Or use channels to organize documents? There are a ton of functionalities that help you get the most out of both these apps by integrating them. And by centralizing digital collaboration areas with your file management, you’ll make it easier for your team to work together.

This video will introduce you to integrating Microsoft Teams with SharePoint:

Watch the full webinar now.

Need Help Getting Started? 

SharePoint can be endlessly helpful in making collaboration easier—if you know how to use it. And we’re the first to admit that it can get quite complex quickly. But the good news is, we’re here to help. Contact us today to find out how our team—and our Work Made Simple integrations—can help you get more out of the Microsoft apps you’re already working with.  

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