A pilot SharePoint cleanup project is straightforward. A consultant facilitating a small project to clean up a company’s SharePoint intranet can reach the lessons learned phase with a few basic tools.

Recall the mantra: simple is elegant.

Getting Started

You will require these basic tools:

  • A project proposal
  • A workbook
  • A decision tree
  • A summary report

The client’s Information Technology (IT) department will provide a summary of sites eligible for review. Typically output to Excel, the columns may include (not necessarily in this order):

  • Access Granted
  • Audit Action
  • Status
  • URL
  • Document Count
  • Storage Used (MB)
  • Sub Site Count
  • Document Library Count
  • Site Name
  • Site Description

It is more than likely that IT will provide the summary sheet only; the SharePoint team will be unavailable to export metadata from each page under review. Therefore, you will need to export the metadata of each web part from each site yourself. In good conscience, you should explain to the client in advance that the length of time this exercise consumes may be up to 50 percent of the project schedule. Your security permissions will drive the level of effort required to export.

Keep it Organized 

Each row in the summary sheet equals one site, therefore, each subsequent sheet in the workbook will correspond to a row on the summary sheet. Add links from the summary sheet to each subsequent sheet for easy navigation. The decision template should look similar to this:


Consider whether or not you should designate a records series at the object level. While records series are listed in cell B2, it’s useful to assign a records series to each object as you review each site. You do not want to revisit each site more than twice at the most. Also, you’re building up a tidy metadata index of records series keywords to object titles in SharePoint. Each sheet’s tab may be color coded as you progress through the workbook.

Meanwhile, as you proceed through the first five or 10 sites, a decision tree is forming in your mind. Perhaps this treatment is similar to what you envision.


Organizations tend to treat SharePoint as the corporate scrapbook as well as the content platform. The resulting statistical analysis may look very familiar (note: “RE” stands for “Retention Expired”).

Of course, each section below will be divided further – number of sites comprised entirely of reference material that may be deleted immediately, number of objects that are records or expired records (and their corresponding records series), top one hundred keywords, corporate/administrative data versus technical data, and so forth.

Wrapping it Up

A summary report with a dashboard is useful to the client: number of objects deleted, number of sites deleted, gradual reductions in platform size, and budget saved.


Cleaning up SharePoint feeds the annual review of the organization’s comprehensive records retention schedule. It offers an opportunity for the information management function to check in with each department. It allows a view into each team’s business processes. But most importantly, from our perspective, the information management function can gauge the culture’s tolerance for advanced Records Management Services in the SharePoint platform.