2014-02-June-Yard-Sale.jpgYour information is the lifeblood of your organization. It’s content you create, it’s content you obtain from customers, suppliers, partners. And there’s usually a lot of it. That’s where solutions like SharePoint and Office 365 come in -- to help you manage it all.

But before you start storing every last piece of information you have, ask yourself if it’s really something you need. Just because you can save and store almost limitless amounts of content, doesn’t mean you should. 

I am willing to bet that if you look at your organization closely, the vast amount of content you create is used once or twice and then languishes forever, much of it forgotten by everyone except the author (and occasionally even him/her!).

You need to be smart about what information you keep and how you keep it. With that in mind, I offer a three step process to streamlining and organizing your content.

1. Clean Out the Junk

First things first, clean out the old junk. Accept that some of that information you're holding onto is just crap. It was useful once, but now it’s just taking up space on your hard drive, fileshare or in your Office 365 document libraries. So take some time to establish what you have, then organize it into three to four piles:

  1. Important to keep close.
  2. Important to keep.
  3. Should retain a copy just in case (i.e., archive it).
  4. Time to junk.

Decide what your rules are for each pile and start sorting. The key is to throw away (or archive) the content that is old and unused. The difference between archive and throw away is something you need to decide, but be realistic -- why do you need to keep a copy if it’s not important?

In the end, less clutter makes it easier for people to find the information they actually need. Despite the ability of computers to disseminate and classify content, it’s still nearly impossible to find something useful when you are presented with thousands of pages of options.

Plus, think about how much better you’ll feel when you clean out the junk. It’s liberating.

2. Forget About the Portal for Storage

Portals are a great way to collaborate and share content, and even to store key pieces of information, but using it as a repository for all of your content -- especially duplicate content that exists elsewhere -- results in it being cluttered, difficult to navigate and eventually, ignored by others.

By portals, I am referring to all the different tools where you share content and work on it as a team. This could be Office 365 SharePoint, or some other tool. It could even be your OneDrive for Business account (although technically not a portal).