Metadata is the way to go.
Metadata (columns) and views are better and the recommended alternative to managing documents in folders. Metadata provides descriptive information about the document. Views are using the metadata for grouping, filtering and sorting documents in an organized and methodological way.
The challenge is retrieving metadata tags from CRM records and saving them with the documents in SharePoint, where each such field (attribute) retrieved from the CRM record, is saved in the corresponding column of the document library in SharePoint.
Consider a company managing projects in CRM, using a customized Project entity, and billing clients when each of the project’s stages is completed. Using Word Template the Scope of Work (SOW) of the project is generated in CRM, by populating the Word Template with data from the project record and related records. Invoices are also created in CRM, using Invoice Word Template, with the deliveries and services provided for a project stage. In CRM out of the box integration with SharePoint, both documents, the Project SOW and related invoices are uploaded to CRM, one to the Project folder the other to Invoice folder.
As the project progresses team members, which are not necessarily CRM users, follow the project milestones and how the associated invoices are paid by clients. If the company has many clients and each has many projects, and each project has invoices, and their payment needs to be followed up, imagine the effort required collecting details from the project SOW and invoices documents, without having metadata to allow search and views build on logical and easy way to retrieve them.
We follow 8 core principles when integrating CRM and SharePoint.
1. Documents generated in CRM
One click function and similar workflow, to upload documents generated with CRM Word Templates to SharePoint, either in Word or PDF format
One click function and similar workflow, to upload Reports to SharePoint
2. Documents generated outside CRM
Email sent to CRM Queue triggers plug-in that saves documents attached to the incoming Email in SharePoint, and use the Email addresses, subject line and Email body as metadata.
Email 2 SharePoint prevents human errors and omissions common with manual uploads of documents to CRM
Email 2 SharePoint can be used by ISV and software developers, as an interface to SharePoint, to upload documents generated with other systems, to SharePoint
3. Workflows in CRM and in SharePoint
Implement business processes with workflows synchronized across SharePoint and CRM platforms. Example: Project documents are generated in CRM using Word Templates, and uploaded with workflow to SharePoint. The CRM workflow updates the milestones metadata column in SharePoint that triggers SharePoint workflows for SharePoint users to monitor the project’s deliveries and milestones. If SharePoint user comes across business opportunity, during project implementation and management, the user can trigger a CRM workflow from SharePoint, to create new Opportunity in CRM
4. GUID as reference to CRM records
Save the GUID of the CRM record as metadata in SharePoint, as reference back to CRM
Different documents uploaded from same record to SharePoint, can be associated / linked using GUID data
GUID provides ISV and software developers a link back to CRM, for SharePoint users to view ad-hoc information required from CRM records.
ISV solutions to view activities in CRM using GUID stored in metadata column (like meetings, phone conversations, Emails…).
6. Security and permissions
CRM solution that syncs the security roles in CRM with permissions, to view, edit, delete documents in SharePoint
CRM solution to allow search for documents in SharePoint
8. Metadata and Attributes
Metadata to be consistent across SharePoint folders and subsites, and match the content retrieved from CRM attributes