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How to Create and Scale a Document Management System in SharePoint

Organizations must store and organize documents in such a way that they are easily accessible to those who need them. While doing so they must also take care of the security and compliance requirements. With SharePoint document management, organizations can easily create a scalable document management system that can take care of all document management needs of the organization.

Creating a SharePoint Document Management System

SharePoint document management system’s easy-to-use interface allows organizations to set up a document management system within minutes. The first step toward creating a document management system is to determine the types of documents an organization wants to store. If the organization is considering storing documents that belong to different departments or different projects with different audiences or stakeholders with different levels of permissions/security, it will need to create multiple SharePoint document libraries. The next step would be to define the types or categories of documents that the organization wants to store in each of the libraries. For instance, a SharePoint document library for the HR department could include document categories like employee profiles, ways of working, compliance guidelines etc. Creating unique metadata for each of the categories of data would be the next step. Metadata is critical for organizing documents in a document management system so that users can find documents easily.

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Scaling up a Document Management System in SharePoint

As an organization grows, scaling document management will be an absolute necessity. Scalability, however, is not just about just more storage or more features or functionalities but also about the ability of the document management system to maintain the same level of reliability and functionality regardless of the size of the requirement. It is noteworthy here that since a document management system helps employees in collaborating and communicating more efficiently, having a solution that is scalable as the number of users, locations, and document volume grows is essential. SharePoint as a document management system can scale up to manage hundreds of millions of documents with the right architecture. For instance, organizations may use multiple databases and site collections to spread out the content. However, to ensure a SharePoint document management system is scaled sufficiently, an organization can start with a simple exercise that keeps the following in mind –

  • Number of current users and expected number of users over the next 1-2 years – the organization should have a clear idea of how many users would be using the document management system or else the performance of the system will degrade
  • Estimating expected content growth/number of documents likely to be added over the next 1-2 years – an understanding of how fast and how many new documents will be required to be added is important for building a scalable document management system
  • Organizing site collections and folders properly is important for scaling a document management system in SharePoint. Therefore, specifying limits or enforcing policies that optimize performance is critical. For instance, a site collection should hold no more than 50,000 users for optimal performance; there should not be more than 2,000 subsites of any one site as that would slow down server performance, and documents in a single folder of a document library should be less than 10,000 – as more than 10,000 documents in a single folder would lead to performance degradation. In fact, creating multiple folders is an effective way of scaling the SharePoint document management system as using multiple folders increases the document limit to up to two million documents.


What is a document management system?

A document management system is a software solution that stores and organizes documents (business processes, compliance, governance etc. related information and content) in digital formats such as PDFs, word processing files and digital images. Documents in a document management system are stored and organized in a way that they are searchable using keywords. Security, access control and audit trails are key features of any document management system.

What is an example of a document management system?

Microsoft SharePoint is an example of a document management system. SharePoint document management allows sharing and managing documents and enables seamless collaboration across the organization. Documents can be edited and reviewed by multiple people at the same time.

What are the various types of document management systems?

There are five types of document management systems –

  • Content management system – used for creating, modifying, organising, and delivering content to users
  • Workflow management system – used to streamline routine or repetitive, content-based tasks
  • Record management system – used for record creation, distribution, usage, maintenance, and archival or disposal of a document or set of information
  • Document imaging system – used for storing and organizing digital images of paper documents
  • Enterprise content management system – supports capturing and managing content, as well as the storage, preservation, and delivery of information based on workflows, processes, and rules of the organization.

What do document management systems manage?

Document management systems manage the lifecycle of a document – from its creation to disposal. A document management system will store the document, and organize it according to department or user group, keep track of reviews, and provide access based on permissions.

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  • Sonam Kumari
  • October 07, 2022
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