Understanding Document Sets in SharePoint 2010

Learn what Document Sets in SharePoint 2010 are and what are some of the ways in which you could use them in your own organization.


Document Sets are a new feature in SharePoint 2010 document management.

While conceptually they might be easy to understand, that is, a Document Set is a folder that contains a set of related documents, it might be more challenging to understand how you can use them, so here are a few possible scenarios…

Suppose you have a new project that is going to start up. Projects generally go through phases such as design, implementation, and deployment.

For the design phase for example, you could create a Document Set that contains all of the design documents required (Word documents), diagrams used along with the design documents (Visio diagrams), time and budget estimates (Excel files), a project plan (Microsoft Project file), etc.

Another example is the development of a web site for your organization, which would require business requirements to be collected (Word documents), design specifications to be written (Word documents and Visio diagrams), development and test plans to be written (Word documents and Excel files), UI prototypes to be created (Visio diagrams and HTML pages), etc.

The common theme of these two scenarios is that you have certain tasks you must do and certain types of documents you require to be able to come up with a final deliverable. And you go through these tasks and have to set up these document types every time you want to come up with similar deliverables.

You really experience the usefulness of Document Sets when you have repetitive activities in your organization and want to streamline the use of documents and increase consistency in deliverables (documents) across all of those activities.

So for example, if your organization has many proposals to set up for different potential customers or every two months or so a new project is started that requires a standardized set of documents to be used, then Document Sets in SharePoint 2010 might be the useful not only to collaborate, but also to standardize the way in which and what type of documents are used to set up the proposals or to start each new project.

Document Sets allow you to manage documents as an interconnected unit without taking away the ability to apply individual settings and metadata to each document within the Document Set.

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