Using SharePoint List Views

Posted by Doug Underhill on 10.31.14
Doug Underhill
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Why is it that when you can’t find a document on your computer it’s always the most important one?

You might need a P&L report for a meeting you have with the board in ten minutes. So you root through one folder after the next, scouring My Documents, wondering if you had somehow saved it on your desktop by accident.  Been there? Me too. 

If you are like most people, you probably have files organized in folders that live on your hard drive or on a server. Those folders are arranged by date, by subject, or whatever method works for you.  The problem is you are limited by having only one naming convention on the folder. You can’t have them organized by date, subject, and authorship at the same time, and after enough files pile up, it’s impossible to find the document you are looking for. 

Managing inbox overflow is hard enough, let alone trying to save and organize every attachment your staff sends.  SharePoint list filters is a great way to save your sanity and get what you need fast.  

All Of My Documents Are Organized.  Why Do I Need SharePoint?

With SharePoint you can sort and filter documents by values that are determined by metadata. This sounds more technical than it actually is. The bottom line is SharePoint list filters help you manage information overload.  You start by creating a “view,” which is a custom display of information with sorting capabilities you desire.  When you create a view, you are creating your own unique vantage point from which you’ll see the document library.

Similar to Excel

SharePoint presents data in a useful way because it is sorted and filtered exactly how you want.  You go to the “list view settings,” give your view a name, and check off which columns you want.  You can also filter column values, similar to the data sort you might do on a spreadsheet in an Excel document. SharePoint, by contrast, allows you more customization that helps you find what you are looking for quickly.

It is not complicated to set up either. If you know how to create a spreadsheet, or select printer options (before you discover the printer is broken again), you can set up a SharePoint list view in a snap.  It’s basically a property sheet, where you select which columns you want by checking them, and arrange the order you want them in. 

How It Works

List views can grow pretty big, but you can manage the data easily by manipulating categories.  You can open a view and manually restrict the sorting criteria, based on what you know about the subject you are looking for.  Let’s say you want to locate a specific product, but you can’t remember anything about it other than the approximate date it was delivered. You could open a view that has all product attributes sorted into columns – size, color, price, and distribution date.  You could drill down into “distribution date,” sort the products by a range of dates you think it was delivered in, and within seconds you’ve found what you are looking for.

Checking Progress Reports

Having several weekly reports to check up on can be tough to manage, but SharePoint makes the job easier by showing you, with a red or green indicator, whether a report is done.  You can create a view to track reports, or to monitor stages of development for any project.  Your view is always current so you can check on a project’s status in real time. 

You can also sort information by “grouping” a view. Maybe you want to see all the historical reports for one project.  Just expand what you want to seeand collapse the stuff you don’t, reframing the view into precisely what you need. 

Creating Customized Views

Once you have a view set up you may find that you are continually refining it to display the same data over and over again. You can save time and create a second view option that takes you right to that information instantly. This new view will appear in the top navigation next to your other saved views.  You can toggle back and forth, jumping from one to the other as needed.

SharePoint list filters is a real-time tool that offers a busy executive the greatest efficiency in saving, managing, and accessing information.  Think about the last time you went through the virtual exercise of yanking drawers out of your desk and dumping the contents on the floor, searching frantically for that info sheet that vanishes when you need it most.  List filters will help you get the report you need, with time to spare to hit to coffee station on your way to the meeting. Can’t beat that.

Topics: SharePoint

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