Home inventory documentation solution on SharePoint

I was reading up on a topic on Quora when I came across this answer from Helena Looby. The question was what the best business to start was if you needed start without skills or money.

Helena’s answer was this:

Here is a low cost idea and something that could be fun to do. You need a computer, camera (or the latest 8mg iPhone).  Home Inventory Documentation.You take photos of home inventory (regular & macro-photos) with your image editor you tag and date them and burn the data on a CD. The catalogueing can be tedious and attention to detail will be important but you charge $250-300 for one session.

This is important to people who want visual documentation of the property and contents for insurance purposes, or furnished rental properties, vacations homes that may also want documentation. If you get really good institutions (schools, museums) may also require your services.

Awesome idea, and definitely a money-maker. You can take the pictures and load them up on a SharePoint Asset library with the necessary metadata to serve as a home inventory documentation system. You give the customers an extranet login possibility so they can get to their data. Instead of burning everything on a disk, you could work with a monthly subscription (just like Microsoft does now with their SharePoint online offering).

You can, ofcourse, use SharePoint for this. So if you are eager to start a business, or you are an insurance company who is looking for an extra offering, here is what you could do:

Site and Asset library

Per customer you create a Team Site.

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Delete everything from the quick launch to keep it nice and clean. You can change the homepage to show more useful information for the customer who gets all the photos.

Add an Asset library to the site. This is the place you need to add your photos and will serve as the heart of your home inventory documentation system. Specific metadata from your photo will be automatically applied to the SharePoint metadata. Easy as pie.

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Make sure to save the site as a template for future customers ;).


Next, you need a way to tag all your data. Per picture, you add in metadata what you see on that picture.

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The asset library shows you all pictures in a nice view with rows and columns. This will do wonders when you or your client is looking for a specific image.

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When you hover over an image, the basic metadata is shown.

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When you click on “view properties” the metadata (the stuff that is on the picture) is shown.

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Ofcourse not everything is as easy as depicted here. There are some things you will need to sort out:

– diskspace used per customer

– extranet login functionality and user management

– platform architecture (backup/restore and high availability)

About: Marijn

Marijn Somers (MVP) has over 14 years experience in the SharePoint world, starting out with SP2007. Over the years the focus has grown to Office 365, with a focus on collaboration and document management. He is a business consultant at Balestra and Principal Content Provider for "Mijn 365 Coach" that offers dutch employee video training. His main work tracks are around user adoption, training and coaching and governance. He is also not afraid to dig deeper in the technicalities with PowerShell, adaptive cards or custom formatting in lists and libraries. You can listen to him on the biweekly "Office 365 Distilled" podcast.

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