Using SharePoint Vitals to Audit Usage of Documentation.

SharePoint Vitals is a tool created to add value to not only your administrator of your SharePoint Farm but for any manager wanting to understand the usage of SharePoint and/or O365.  It specifically provides analysis to answer the questions of who is using what and how they are using it.

The implications, and findings, assist with numerous strategic and operational decisions such as:

  1. Data migration and what to move
  2. Adoption of your intranet
  3. Improvements in data structure in the SharePoint Environment
  4. Auditing of specific usage of documentation
  5. Return on investment on projects
  6. Security tracking
  7. User experience and improvements in network

Today’s blog looks at what reports we can use to assist us in understanding the usage of documentation within our organization.

Often in this scenario we will be presented with the comment “We want to know who has accessed a specific document for legal reasons” or “We want to know who is using / accessing our documents”

Why is this question important?

You information is a key asset within your organization. It provides you with a competitive advantage be that through storing relevant industry specific data, or your companies “secret sauce”, or through operational excellence and efficiency that is promoted via policies and procedures.  Each of these documents need specific security as well as specific auditing to ensure that people are either, in the case of policies, viewing the information, or, in the case of “secret sauce” documentation, not getting access to the data.

How can we benefit from SharePoint Vitals?

Managers and CIOs wants to know what is being used and by whom.  In addition, departments such as HR and legal want to know who has been accessing specific information.  This is useful for adoption, eDiscovery and general compliance. For compliance and operations reasons, these managers might want to track specific policies and procedures and identify who has read the documents.

SharePoint Vitals has a number of reports that are useful for these purposes. This is probably one of the most important uses of SharePoint Vitals regardless of clients’ other issues. It is important to remember that SharePoint provides some of this functionality out of the box, but there reports have a very limited time span whereas SharePoint Vitals stores all information into perpetuity, and will allow you to build trends to understand the data over extended periods.

There are a group of reports that allow auditing to happen.

PAGE HITS PER USER shows all pages that specific users have accessed, this gives you insights as to what pages a user has been to which in itself can be extrapolated to teams of users. This tells you if users have been accessing data they should or shouldn’t have access to. This therefore is a report for adoption, security and for auditing purposes.

ACTIVE DOCUMENTS PER USER is a key feature to auditing and a report that is very specific to SharePoint Vitals. Whether you are auditing an individual or understanding access to a specific sensitive document this report shows who has accessed which document.  Its important to point out that the document report includes documents such as OneNote’s and online document reading, not just documents people have opened through the applications. The insights in this report are invaluable for auditing and security.

ACTIVE DOCUMENTS PER SITE is a report focused rather on auditing site usage than user usage, but works as a great report for understanding what documents in specific sites are used.

For more specific auditing of an individual the USER PROFILE REPORT give you full insight into what a user has been doing for a specific time period.  This is useful from a legal standpoint with audits based on user interaction, eDiscovery and general corporate espionage or maliciousness. The report can also be useful in employee focused strategies such as HR reviews, seeing where a user has been spending their time and how productive they are.

USER HISTORY shows all pages and sites a user has been accessing, this can be a vast report which has uses in Auditing a users journey through the platform as well as identifying potential security leaks in your security and permissions setup by identifying assets that have been accessed by a user that shouldn’t have been.

Whilst auditing is focused on User activity normally a number of reports that are not user based can be helpful in this purpose by firstly filtering the search results or focusing them.  These reports I will refer to as Linked reports as the filtered down reports allows you to link through to very specific user based audit data, such as the VISITED SITES report which shows you how many users have accessed sites, however when filtered will take you to all users who have accessed those sites.

Suggestion to client.

Once deploy SharePoint Vitals  will monitor SharePoint and O365 and aggregate the Audit data. Point out the ability for SharePoint vitals to store data into perpetuity, this is something SharePoint cannot do out of the box.

Bonus.

Once you have SharePoint Vitals for auditing you can still utilise the tools to improve your current platform by monitoring usage, search terms and navigation.

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