“Why would you want to use SharePoint for storing documents? We’ve always used file shares and it works just fine.” Why indeed? The simplest answer is that there is so much more that SharePoint CAN do. It just requires a little push in the right direction and a little knowledge on what CAN be done. One of the wonderful tools that comes from using SharePoint as more than a file store is being able to add SharePoint metadata to Word documents.
Unfortunately, this ability to link information within a document to metadata outside the document (but still inside SharePoint) is not intuitive or automatic. There are a few steps involved in getting it setup with a small change in how individuals operate to get this to work smoothly.
The first step is to have a SharePoint library that you want to use with the appropriate columns that you want linked to your document. This is important because it allows us to add the metadata columns as Word quick parts. For this demonstration, I’ll be using my Office 365 account. Office 365 is almost the same as SharePoint 2013 so my SharePoint 2013 Training directly applies to it. I have my library “Test Reports” with a few extra columns that I’m going to add to my Word document.
Now I have to add these columns as quick parts to my document. This requires Word to be aware of the columns. I will choose to create a new document in the library that I will name “Report Template”.
Once it is created, I’ll open this document with my local copy of Microsoft Office Word. Under the ‘INSERT’ ribbon, I can then select the columns from the library as quick parts.
I’ll create a dummy report and insert my columns of information.
At this point, I save the document to be used as a template and would probably lock it as a read only copy that users can download to fill out.
I downloaded a copy of the template and filled in some information. The fields that require a date give a dropdown for selecting a date from a calendar.
The column that I added that was of type ‘choice’ has a dropdown with only the choices available.
I then do a “save as” and save it to my Office 365 library.
The columns that I added to the document automatically populate the columns in this library and can now be used within SharePoint for creating custom views and reports.
The one downside to this is that you can’t edit the fields in Office Web Apps. You can choose to edit the properties of each record in the library and the information will be automatically changed inside the document.
As a real world example, I knew a gentleman that used this same method to create report templates like you see here. Once the reports were created, the field agents just had to drop them into the correct library (which can be mapped like a shared drive if your users are still adjusting to SharePoint). Since all the information in the report was pulled as metadata into SharePoint, the information could be used for multiple dashboards that were updated in almost real time. This created a streamlined process from the agent to the SharePoint Business Intelligence dashboard that the executives used to make decisions. After all, that’s what we’re always looking for, streamlined processes for greater efficiency.