Shared Storage for Everyone: Never Deal with Duplicates and Missing Files Again
An issue we often hear from business owners and end-users is related to documents/files and storage. This is a crucial area to tackle in digital transformation because it involves a lot of process and behavioral change to be effective.
Ever asked yourself questions like…
- Where’s the ABC report located? I can’t find it inside the folder.
- Why are there five ‘final’ versions of this proposal? Which is the real final one?
These issues usually starts very small, often brushed off, and accepted as reality of working with other people.
Then it reaches to the point where you find multiple versions of the same file and can’t, for the life of you, figure out which version is the most updated one.
One day, you realize that your computer suddenly isn’t as responsive or as fast as it was before. Upon checking, you noticed that you are almost out of memory because of all the duplicate files you have.
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You want to delete some of it, but can’t figure out which one because of dozens of versions with the word “final” in the name. You also noticed that the same file exists in five different locations.
At this point, you tell yourself, “there as got to be a better way.”
And there is.
What if you never have to deal with duplicates again? What if you and anyone in your organization can find the file you’re looking for in a matter of seconds?
6 Steps to Avoid Dealing with Duplicates and Missing Files Again
here are a lot of shared storage apps/software out there to choose from. But that’s not the point of this article. Rather, we’ll cover the steps you need to make in order to implement a shared storage properly.
Step 1: Choose a Provider
The first step is to choose a provider. If you’re an Office 365 user, or predominantly uses Windows, then OneDrive/SharePoint is a great one to use.
If your organisation is using Gmail, then you’re most likely familiar with Google Drive.
Regardless of what you choose, the biggest consideration is always the price. Most of these providers have a per user pricing which is very affordable.
Once you picked one, move to the next step.
Step 2: Create a Folder Structure
The most common way implementation of a shared file storage is to create several folders. Depending on your organization, you can arrange this in different ways:
- By department
- By project
The one thing you want to avoid is to create a folder for each user. Why? Because it defeats the purpose of having a shared storage. Remember, digital transformation isn’t simply moving what you do to the cloud/online. It’s about modifying your culture and processes to meet the changing business and market demands.
Today’s work involves more and more people. By creating individual user folders, you are encouraging people to simply do what they have already been doing — which resulted to multiple file versions and difficulty finding the files that you need when you need them.
This is definitely something you don’t want to happen again.
Step 3: Invite Users
Once you have the basic folders setup, it’s time to invite your team to have access to the software/storage.
Every provider has a different process for this. For example, if you’re already an Office 365 user, most likely, your team already have their email accounts setup. All you need to do is grant them access to the respective folders.
What that means is certain people can only have access to files/documents that they should. You wouldn’t want to have all your HR files including salaries and compensation accessible to everyone, would you?
In this case, you’d have to restrict access to HR and top management (maybe). Then only grant each department or project team access to their respective file folders.
Step 4: Strict Guidelines / Usage
This next step is crucial.
Make sure that everyone in your organisation is using the shared file storage. This makes it simple and easier for everyone.
Most providers will have native applications for your computers and mobile devices. This creates a “folder” on your device. Depending on what is already inside, you would most likely see nested folders.
It could be organized in a number of ways:
- by department
- by projects
- or by year
Regardless of what the structure is, the most important one is to put all files and documents inside.
That way, when you want to collaborate with your team, you share the “link” to the file instead of the file itself. Most shared file storage software like the one offered by Microsoft (OneDrive / SharePoint) allows you to edit the files in real-time.
Let’s say you are working on a PowerPoint report. Normally, it would require inputs from several people.
Instead of one person working on the file, send it over to the next person and add their inputs, and over and over until it reaches the last person. By this time, you would have several emails and five different versions of the same report.
What if the second person forgot to add a crucial data? What if the first person needed to update some grammatical error? Which file would they open? Where is the “updated” report?
Now, imagine the five of you working on the file in real-time together. Everyone works on their own section. No need to email back-and-forth. No need to scramble and look for the most updated file.
Step 5: Enable Streaming/On-Demand Files
A common question that is often asked about using a this kind of technology is the concern of storage availability on each individual user’s local device. A typical company would have multiple departments. If you’re working in marketing, you wouldn’t need to see or concern yourself with accounting files, and vice-versa.
The service providers have already thought of this.
One of the options you can take is to download and sync only the relevant folders for you. For example, if your folder structure is divided into departments, then you only download and sync the one relevant to you. Or if it’s by projects, only select those that concern you. The end result is that those folders will be made available on your local device, but the others will be accessible online. Everything is still in one place.
The other option that is a relatively new feature is an on-demand file access. Using the example above, let’s say you chose the marketing department folder to sync and download on your computer. But, you know that one of those folders contain all the raw videos and photos from all your planned and completed campaigns.
Syncing all those files will take up a LOT of your device’s storage, not to mention the time it would take to download all of them.
The on-demand feature allows you to choose among these three options:
- Online only
- Available offline
- Available offline once you download the file
The first option will allow you to see the filename, but you won’t be able to access it without internet. The second option will make the file (or folders and everything inside it available offline. The last option is a hybrid of the two — that way, when you download a single file, you can access it again until you mark it for online access only or when your memory is low.
Step 6: Assess / Evaluate Usage
The final step is to assess or evaluate your entire organization’s usage of the shared storage. Is a particular department or team or individual not using it? Did it solve the initial challenges? Did it make it easier to collaborate with one another?
Over to You
Throughout this series, you learned the benefits of going through a digital transformation.
You learned that today’s markets are different from what it used to be.
Is your organisation prepared for tomorrow? Can your organisation adapt to the changing consumer behavior?