Introduction to Enterprise Content Management in SharePoint Server 2007

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In the last few decades, computers and productivity software have made it easier than ever for organizations to create diverse kinds of content such as documents, worksheets, presentations, e-mail messages, videos, and Web pages. This ease of content creation has resulted in an explosion in the volume of unstructured content that organizations must manage. Because this content is typically not managed or organized in any consistent way, the information in this content is inaccessible to employees. This prevents organizations from achieving improvements in employee productivity, process efficiency, and customer communication.

ECM and the content life cycle

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) from Microsoft helps organizations overcome the challenges posed by unmanaged content. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 is a central part of the Microsoft ECM solution, which extends content management to every employee in an organization through integration with familiar tools like the Microsoft Office system. The Microsoft ECM solution provides capabilities for managing the entire life cycle of content — from creation, to editing and collaboration, to expiration — on a single unified platform.

Document Lifecycle Diagram

Office SharePoint Server 2007 helps organizations manage the entire life cycle of content by providing distinct sets of features that enable organizations to achieve the following goals:

  • Manage diverse content    The document management capabilities in Office SharePoint Server 2007 can help organizations consolidate diverse content from multiple locations into a centrally managed repository with consistent categorization. Integrated search capabilities can then help people find, share, and use this information. Content can also be protected from unauthorized access. Collaboration tools, such as workflow, help people work better together to create, review, and approve documents in a structured way.

  • Satisfy compliance and legal requirements    The integrated records management capabilities in Office SharePoint Server 2007 enable organizations to store and protect business records in their final state. Organizations can apply expiration policies to these records to ensure that they are retained for the appropriate time period to comply with regulations or corporate business policies, thereby mitigating legal risk to the organization. Audit trails provide proof to internal and external auditors that records have been retained appropriately. Holds can be placed upon specific records under legal discovery to prevent their destruction.

  • Efficiently manage multiple Web sites    The Web content management capabilities in Office SharePoint Server 2007 enable people to publish Web content with an easy-to-use content authoring tool and a built-in approval process. Employees can upload content to Web sites in a timely manner without extensive support from IT staff. Templates in the form of master pages and page layouts enable organizations to apply consistent branding to pages. Office SharePoint Server 2007 also offers a single deployment and management infrastructure for intranet, extranet, and Internet sites, as well as for multilingual sites.

To learn more about the capabilities of ECM, see the following sections.

What you can do with ECM

Note: This article refers to an example SharePoint site created by Adventure Works, a fictitious company that manufactures bicycles, bicycle components, and bicycling accessories.

The Adventure Works company uses nearly all the ECM capabilities offered by Office SharePoint Server 2007 to manage specific content needs.

Document management

The Technical Documentation team at Adventure Works uses a Document Center site as a centralized repository to create, organize, edit, and review all customer-facing external publications, such as user manuals and product specification sheets. The writers at Adventure Works use workflows on the content in the Document Center to manage the review and editing process for the documents that they create.

The document management features in Office SharePoint Server 2007 enable you to do the following:

  • Save time and easily reuse information    You can organize and classify the content within a Document Center site to provide a consistent method for organizing, categorizing, navigating through, and quickly searching for information.

  • Help protect sensitive information    You can help safeguard documents with integrated rights management that travels with documents wherever they may go when they are downloaded from a site. You can specify user access rights for individual items in a library. You can also use the Document Inspector in 2007 Microsoft Office system desktop programs to remove metadata from documents, presentations, and worksheets before final publication.

  • Streamline collaborative document creation    With built-in document workflows, you can initiate, track, and collaborate on document-oriented processes directly from 2007 Office release desktop programs. Workflow task information is displayed in the desktop program, helping to ensure that the workflow participants follow the workflow steps properly.

Records management

The Legal department at Adventure Works uses a Records Center site template to archive important documents, such as leases, contracts, and license agreements. The Records Center site is accessible only to a handful of employees in the Legal department. This helps ensure that vital business records are kept secure.

The records management features in Office SharePoint Server 2007 enable you to do the following:

  • Improve legal and regulatory compliance    You can apply information retention, protection, and auditing policies to business records to help ensure that these records are appropriately retained.

  • Help secure business and vital records    A security-enhanced repository, called a Records Center site, helps ensure that records are stored in a locked, final state.

  • Ensure easy litigation discovery    You can help ensure that information required for legal discovery can be retrieved in a cost-effective manner and placed on hold according to the discovery requirements.

Web content management

The Human Resources (HR) department at Adventure Works uses the publishing features that are part of the Web content management capabilities in Office SharePoint Server 2007 to create and update information that is published for all employees on the company's HR intranet portal.

The Web content management features in Office SharePoint Server 2007 enable you to do the following:

  • Create and publish content quickly and easily    Business groups can create and publish Web content in a timely manner with easy-to-use authoring tools and integrated workflows.

  • Maintain a consistent look and feel throughout your Web sites    You can provide approved master pages and page layouts that enable branding and navigation of the site to be specified once and reused by content authors.

  • Lower deployment and management costs for your Web sites    You can implement a single multitier infrastructure for publishing content to intranet, extranet, and Internet sites.

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