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Leveraging Content Types in SharePoint Document Libraries and Lists

  • June 4, 2008
  • By Daan De Brouckere & Raj Agarwal
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Example 3. Policies and Procedures

The Problem

The Human Resources (HR) department in a financial firm sees a challenge in organizing their policies and procedures. They store over 400 policies and procedures on their SharePoint Portal 2003 platform using various document libraries. From an end user perspective, it involves a significant amount of time to search a policy or procedure across multiple document libraries.

Additionally, the HR department emails the users an updated version of the policies and procedures template that the users are required to create on a regular basis. Due to various copies being available to the users, the policies and procedures are not consistent across various departments in the organization.

The Solution

To provide an efficient solution that can help standardize the documents being created and stored, the firm decided to implement SharePoint 2007 as a collaboration platform. Procedures are supporting documents to one or more policies. To have consistency across the organization, there was a pressing need to have the policies and procedures stored in one location. Therefore, a single document library was created to house all policies and procedures.

The document library contained two content types: Policies and Procedures. Each content type had a set of unique metadata that helped users organize and find content. Both Policy and Procedure content types had a unique document template the users can leverage when creating new documents. Once the document was created, depending on the content type, a workflow was automatically initiated to get the document approved by the user's department manager. Additionally, list views with groupings and filters displayed the documents in an organized fashion within one document library.

The result of this implementation was a significant increase in user productivity. The users now can find documents and relevant information easily in one document library. Document templates are consistent across the organization for all policies and procedures.

Figure 8: Document Template

Figure 9: Document Library

Taking It to the Next Level

Once the policies and procedures were consolidated into a single document library and the documents were tagged with unique metadata, the organization now has the option to create custom search scopes specific to a content type. In other words, the users can search for a document contained in a specific content type across SharePoint 2007. The leads to more relevant search results because the user searches are narrowed to a specific content type.

The enterprise search feature of SharePoint 2007 can significantly help this organization increase search efficiency and provide more relevant search results to the users.


The true power of content types is realized by combining the use of document templates, metadata, workflows, information management policies, and document conversions. When designing your next SharePoint-based solution, consider leveraging content types to track different flavors of content that belong together in a single library.

About the Authors

Daan De Brouckere is a Senior Solution Architect at Crowe Chizek and Company LLC, with extensive experience architecting distributed systems leveraging either Microsoft or Java-based technologies for a wide range of clients. He is currently focused on delivering SharePoint-based solutions. You can reach Daan at ddebrouckere@crowechizek.com

Raj Agarwal is a certified SharePoint Specialist delivering SharePoint-based solutions across the US. You can reach Raj at ragarwal@crowechizek.com

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