Version Control On SharePoint, by Design

January 29, 2024

Version Control On SharePoint, by Design

Version control is one of those things most people only think about when something has gone horribly wrong. Maybe it was a marked-up version of a contract going back to a customer with some “internal-only” comments left in or an outdated technical spec gets sent unnoticed to the contract manufacturer or a sales rep shares a price list from their desktop that hasn’t been updated in three years.

At that point, the ship has sailed and the financial or reputational damage is done, but there’s no reason to relive bad experiences like that again if it can be helped. That’s why organizations must take a proactive, user-friendly approach to version control and collaboration. has proven to be a game changer for customers facing version control issues. Here’s where version control issues arise and how a few of our customers used to overcome some of these challenges.

The desktop dilemma

Version control can rear its ugly head in different ways, but the biggest issue by far is when end users make edits to a document others are collaborating on in a digital “silo.”

I'm sure that you've all been there where you work on a document, you've saved it locally, you email it as an attachment, the recipient saves it to their desktop, they work on it, they send it back,” Cassy Freeman, Digital Workplace Lead at engineering services firm Babcock. “We've now got four versions of the exact same document and we've got no idea which one is the latest.”

The document versioning chaos that ensues can be downright maddening for knowledge workers.

There's nothing that drives me crazier than whenever you have attachments to your email then there're multiple versions,” said Mario Gaulin, Director of Enterprise Information Solutions at AAFC. "How do you reconcile all of them, keep track easily, and minimize what you have in your inbox?”

Switching from attachments to links

Emailing a file as an attachment is putting it on the fast track to version control drama. As soon as you click that paperclip icon to attach a document, you’ve now created a new version for every recipient of that email. When they all open and start editing the document locally, there’s rarely an easy way to bring things back together into a single source of truth.

But when files are saved on Microsoft Teams or SharePoint, there’s no good reason to click that paper clip anymore. Instead, emailing a permissions-based link ensures everyone works off the same version of the file.

“Sending the document through, it replaces it with a hyperlink and you know that you're always looking at that single version in SharePoint,” said Babcock’s Freeman. “ prompts us if we do forget that we shouldn't send an attachment, to replace the attachment with a link and then stores it in SharePoint.

The ability to drag and drop links to files on SharePoint right into an email message boosts adoption thanks to simplicity and convenience.

Our users send a lot of stuff by email. When we started to use, it was fantastic,” said AAFC’s Gaulin “because you just click, you just drag the link into your email, and you're sending a link over to the user that points directly into SharePoint.

Focus on core tasks rather than file management

Organizations aren’t hiring staff to organize things and worry about version control, they want them to spend their time on their role’s primary functions. Eliminating version control overhead enables colleagues to concentrate on what matters most and be efficient while still achieving compliance objectives.

Our business depends on its ability to accurately and efficiently manage actuarial document workflow for clients,” Sid Siegel, Director, Corporate Applications and Finance IT, at actuarial product and services firm Milliman. “By making email and document storage in SharePoint part of the regular work routine, has been a boon for our highly-trained and experienced consultants who need to focus on their jobs and not on document management.

At Millman, when a consultant finishes a draft of a document, they use “Send on Save” to automatically insert the document into a temporary repository and prompts them to supply the name of the next reviewer from a pre-populated list of users, which is saved as metadata.

Once the review process is complete, the last reviewer stores it in its final location, whereupon it becomes a record. The ‘temporary’ document gets deleted after 60 days, but its metadata are retained for audit purposes and there’s only one “official” version of any document.

Saving on storage

An added benefit of minimizing bespoke versions of the same document and sending links rather than attachments is a decrease in how much space all those different versions eat up. Whether it’s trimming the size of file repositories on SharePoint or cutting down the volume of messages and attachments in end-user inboxes, using version control on SharePoint at scale means those changes can have a meaningful impact.

Using,” said Michael Takita, Director of IT at accounting firm Frank, Rimerman + Co., LLP. “We anticipate a 30 to 40 percent reduction in incremental email storage requirements as people send links to collaborate internally on documents rather than emailing multiple versions of a document back and forth.

This side benefit of the combined SharePoint/ solution isn’t lost on the implementation team at Bosch.

Less data is sent by attachments—version 1, version 2, version final, final-final, etc,.” said Daniel Stuch, Bosch Senior Project Leader, Application Development and Rollout. “Now people are sending links and they always have the latest version.

Regain control over versioning chaos

There’s no time like the present to join these companies and hundreds of other organizations that have tamed version control troubles with Who doesn’t want to minimize mistakes, save time, and reduce file storage, all while making their workforce more productive and satisfied?

To see what can do for you, download a free trial today or dive into our library of case studies to see how else we’re helping organizations solve their information management challenges, all from their inbox.

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