Part 2: Microsoft 365 Copilot Document Management

Improve understanding of your files through naming and tagging

In brief

  • By following best practice in SharePoint, you'll help both users and Copilot.
  • Microsoft 365 Copilot takes advantage of “traditional” file naming formats.
  • Use SharePoint’s in-built version control, as you’re no longer on a fileserver.
  • Make connections of tenant-wide content through the Managed Metadata Service.

In this article and our video, Preparing for Microsoft Copilot Part 2, we dive in to naming documents consistently and how that can automated, versioning as wells as Tagging documents in SharePoint and Teams.

Also in this series:

Understanding the requirement:

Microsoft 365 Copilot benefits from files following naming standards, this enables it to use the date information to understand how files are related and which file is likely to have the most current data. For example:

  • 2023-06 ACME CO - Quarterly Success Review Presentation
  • 2023-09 ACME CO - Quarterly Success Review Presentation


Note: SharePoint works well with spaces, so no need to use the underscore.

How to Implement this:

1. End User training:

  • Define an agreed naming standard and ask that content creators follow it.
  • Deploy an adoption plan through champions, explaining to the user community “the why” and “the how”.
  • This method will resonate with members of your team who thrive on order – or where you have a PMO (Project Management Office), or content/knowledge librarian. It’s challenging to rollout at scale.


2. Correct filenames automatically once they have been uploaded

  • Once a file is uploaded, a validation process could automatically be triggered to update the filename to a compliant name – this could work well in project scenarios or if you have areas set up for tenders. Experience shows the challenges of “locked files” and knowing what the correct name should be can both be blockers to a successful implementation.
  • This process does require work to deploy across a broad SharePoint estate – for the best chance of success, derive naming standards based on metadata and on other known data such as the Document Set Name.


3. Raise an alert to the end user for incorrectly formed filenames

  • Again, triggered once a file has been uploaded, this time advising via email or a Teams notification to the “created by” user to update the file name if it isn’t compliant with standards.
  • Again, this process does require significant work to deploy across a broad SharePoint estate and the possibility that users will ignore alerts after a time.


4. Ease creation of templated documents and compliant filenames

  • Although a not-out-of-the-box feature – it’s a custom solution we implement for our clients.
  • One of the challenges of starting documents in Word, even when using templates from the Organisational Asset library, is that you still need to know where to save them, and what the naming standard is.
  • Change that by having the end-user creating the document from within the document library, then using prompts to create the correctly formed filename.
  • This is not an out-of-the-box option, but part of our Expanse Framework which does just this. Our approach is significantly easier to scale across multiple sites & document libraries.


5. Creation of contracts / formal documents

  • By using a 3rd party SharePoint document generation service, you can create pre-populated contracts, NDAs, HR letters & contracts based on user prompts.
  • As part of this process, a file naming standard can be implemented.
  • This type of information is often needed as reference information, so has value in investing in the formalisations of the process.
  • SharePoint Premium is heading in the direction – one to watch.

Learn More on Naming Standards:

Understanding the requirement:

Labelling and tagging allows Copilot to categorise, search, and connect content.

Tagging is the act of applying metadata to an item either in a list or document library.

How to Implement this:

1. Understanding Terms and Term Sets

  • A term is a word or phrase that helps you classify a document or list item
  • A label is a synonym for term (i.e., another word or phrase which means the same thing in your organisation – think “holiday” and “vacation”)
  • A Term Set is a collection of terms, and terms can either be flat or be in a hierarchy
  • The Term Store holds the collection of Term Sets.
  • Term Sets can be defined at a tenant level (Global Term Sets) or a site collection level (Local Term Sets).
  • This is a taxonomy, as is it formally structured and managed.
  • To utilise your Term set, you add a “Managed Metadata Column” to your document library or list and map it to term set.


2. Understanding Enterprise Keywords

  • Another approach is having a folksonomy, is informally managed and typically contributor can add to it. You often see “word clouds” on blog websites – this is an example of a folksonomy.
  • That said, even though Microsoft suggest this route, we tend to use Term Sets but set them as being "Open" meaning that users can add their own terms as it provides greater control.


3. Retention Labels

  • Retention Labels allow you classify information for retention and disposition. For example, if you have CV, you might hold it for 6 months and then delete it if the candidate is unsuccessful.
  • An example of a label is “Insurance Certificate (40 Years)”
  • Depending on your Microsoft 365 licence, Labels can automatically be applied to documents making implementation easier.

4. Planning your Taxonomy

  • We believe that to get the most value from Microsoft 365 Copilot, creating term sets will deliver the best return as this creates a standard language across your tenant and all the sites within it.
  • Typically, an organisation will have a need for multiple term sets, so to start try and identify a team that already understands their classification or choose an area with lower complexity.


5. Adopting Tagging

  • Templates can have tags baked in – so if you have an employment contract template, you can tag the template, so all document created from that template are “pre-tagged” with “Employment Contract”.
  • Metadata tagging can be forced, but needs to be balanced with usability, we’d suggest you use it for records but less so for collaboration scenarios.
  • Because of the end user challenges of tagging – we developed our “Submit to Knowledge” app, which helps users take project and team assets and adds the to a knowledge base – as part of that process we guide them through the tagging process to make it easy.

Learn More on Tagging:

Understanding the requirement:

Microsoft 365 Copilot benefits from only having to index the final/current version of a document.

How to Implement this:

1. Use the in-built version control

  • Certain professions struggle with using the inbuilt version control – lawyers we’re looking at you – and create multiple versions of a document suffixed with words such as “_RS Revised”, “_Mark Up” and “_Final”. A human may be able to digest these, AI struggles.
  • So, encourage people to actively remove “working versions”.
  • Through an adoption program, introduce the capabilities of modern comments, and automatic versioning.
  • And finally, one option might be Minor and Major versioning features for publishing scenarios. That said we prefer the approach below.

2. Separate a working areas and publishing spaces

  • For our Policy Express solution we separate the area where “Masters” are authored and “Policy Hub” where users consume approved content. Power Automate manages the approval and workflow to publish the approved content.
  • The benefit of this approach, besides separating out security, is that all users, even authors, can easily view the current approved document.
  • Our assumption is that Copilot will work within the Microsoft Search Scope – that means through configuring the scope, that working areas can be excluded from being indexed.

Learn More on Version Control:

The best practices for Microsoft 365 Copilot also work well for information workers (“employees”) too – creating confidence that everyone is working in common way makes it easy to know where to store information and where to find it again.

Changing embedded human behaviours can be supported through technology and automation – but you still need to go on the journey of understanding why people work the way they currently do. This will help highlight the factors that have contributed to these behaviours.


Read Part Three on SharePoint Governance


Rupert Squires

Client Director

2 mins read

View our other blog posts

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Policy Approval in SharePoint 

Within your organisation, a risk, a legal requirement or a standard has been identified, and it has been agreed that it should be addressed via a documented company policy. We can expand this approval requirement more broadly to Controlled Documents.

Manage Microsoft Office templates in SharePoint 

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Microsoft 365 Copilot Licensing + Pricing

Microsoft 365 Copilot Licensing + Pricing

Microsoft 365 Copilot is an additional purchase as it is not included in any of Microsoft’s licence suites, including the “Hero SKU” Microsoft 365 E5. So, to take advantage of the new AI capabilities offered by Microsoft, you will need to budget for additional investment.

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