When I started working many years ago, most organizations stored their content on PC hard drives and Local Area Network (LAN) drives. Today this intellectual property might be better utilized by combining it with content stored in a content management system (CMS) such as SharePoint. This would make it so much easier to find, utilize and manage every day. Most companies’ feel this problem has slowly grown over time into an 800 pound gorilla with the associated storage costs and legal risks. Making this legacy content more utilized may seem like an overwhelming task... but it doesn't have to be. Let's take a closer look at the steps you can take to reduce the magnitude of this effort.
Step 1: Analyze and Inventory the content
Start by creating a list of content to be inventoried and analyzed. If you cannot inventory it all, start with what you have. My suggestion is to cut the problem in half by creating content lists for at least a few departments. Departments that are at risk of losing intellectual property are good places to start. Also consider using tools like Sharegate or AvePoint to help with the inventorying of content.
Step 2: Eliminate Unknown and Outdated content
Some content can’t be opened, identified or just isn’t relevant anymore. The file labeled “Grandma’s Pie Recipe and the old department organization charts are not needed and can go. Label this kind of content with retention and acceptable use policies then target it for immediate disposal.
Step 3: Determine what “Active and Inactive” content is
Active content is known to be used today. Inactive content was used in the past but not actively used now. Use something simple like the “last modified” date to pinpoint active content. You’ll want to move active content into the new content management system while the inactive content is targeted for archiving or disposition.
Step 4: Find a content decision maker
Identify someone(s) in the organization to help decide what the active or inactive content is. Show these content owners the lists of content you’ve identified and any attributes you can share. This is hard for some organizations but a necessary step. You can help by assuring the decision maker that the inactive content will be archived and accessible for a period of time – so not to worry.
Step 5: Create an archive and connect it to the CMS for inactive content
There are a few options here but a simple solution is to create a single archived file share and use the default SharePoint 2013 connector to allow the archive to be searchable. The really good news here is that SharePoint 2013 search can either crawl or federate to the archived content.
Step 6: Migrate active content to the CMS
Now it’s time to take the active content and move it to the CMS. If you take the time to populate some of the attribute fields, your search results will be amazingly better than before.
Repeat steps 1 -6 as needed if you decided not to take on the whole 800 pounds of the gorilla at once and are now left with 400 pounds to contend with. In the end you will be very surprised at the tremendous progress you’ve made in making legacy and active content much more valuable to your organization.