I really like the Microsoft platform, and genuinely believe it is (by and large) the best productivity toolkit on the planet today, but they are beginning to get me down with how often they do just dumb things with updates.
Forgiving that a lot of "new features" being pushed through are not new, they are just being dressed up in a new party-frock and lipstick (modern ui), I am generally pleased that progress being made.
Today though I saw another announcement which is another in the unending stream of whimsy driven changes that appear to have not been discussed with business users.
Yep its the "Change to required properties behavior" - as announced in Office 365 Message Centre notification MC141079.
While not nearly as ridiculous as the Office desktop app Auto-save combined with SharePoint library *or* the no-consultation change of business rules with versioning and controls (see last-month's article "Microsoft makes your operational decisions..") it's still exacerbating.
Changing required properties behavior
The new behaviors (see table below) mean files are now automatically checked-in regardless of any missing metadata
On the surface this sounds great, and actually addresses a long-term issue with document management in SharePoint - lazy-upload
i.e. people upload documents to an area which requires specific metadata, and don't add-it. Which means they can't (and usually don't) check-in the document
...and as we all know, if a document is not checked-in on the first version upload, nobody else can see it. (not even in search results)
Now this behavior was frustrating, and compounded, because in Classic UI and earlier SharePoint versions the owner would not have an issue - they can see the document, open it, filter on it and see in search (they own it) - but no one else does.
By removing this relatively low-level barrier MS are eroding one of the two pillars supporting behavioral change for good document mgmt i.e. do it because it makes your life easier, and do it because you must or it doesn't help you.. - Carrot - Stick.
Some help on the way...
Modern UI introduced a new view a couple of months ago which high-lights files needing attention :
Which is awesome because it saves us creating one on a standard library (based on filtering metadata-fields I stipulate) - and it helps in training good behaviors. But we mandate specific metadata for a reason, and training users and creating a habit of adding useful info when required helps everyone ...and the "no one can see it until do and check-in" was a really-useful stick to go with the carrot.
So while I'm happy we advance in one area, an I'm once again disappointed that there's a casual disregard for sound functionality which supports learned behaviors.
Roll-on next month and we'll see what new frustrations that brings.
Comments, feedback or interesting facts - let us know and email: hi@timewespoke!