Just about every organization has a shared drive used to store a variety of company documents. While the price may be attractive, shared drives can be difficult to administer and secure, which introduces significant risk to any organization. Document management software, especially in the cloud, offers a secure and structured alternative for finding, sharing and collaborating with documents.
Five Major Issues with Shared Drives
- Unmanaged & Decentralized: when organizations lack a document management system, documents are often created and saved in an unmanaged and decentralized manner, scattered across the shared drive(s). This makes it hard for employees to find, share and collaborate effectively on content, and for administrators to manage.
- Security: shared drives offer time consuming and somewhat cumbersome ways to secure documents, many of which may be of a sensitive nature such as contracts, intellectual property and employee records. If you have an IT department, they can assign access to folders down to the file level, but it is a time consuming process, especially with propagation of multiple documents on multiple levels. Additionally, IT is not always available to set up security levels when needed, which can result in the wrong people gaining access to secure documents.
- Naming Conventions: unless you can enforce strict control over document naming conventions enterprise-wide, users will inadvertently name files and folders incorrectly or store documents in the wrong folder, making them difficult to find and retrieve.
- Filing Conventions: most departments have different ways of filing documents. For instance, accounting may organize invoices by date, and customer service may organize invoices by customer name. This makes it difficult for those across the organization to find relevant documents.
- Remote Accessibility: documents may need to be accessed from a variety of locations. This can include remote access for those traveling and employees in the field, as well as inter-office access for businesses with more than one location. Traditional virtual private networking (VPN) access is often difficult to configure or may not be available at all.
Advantages of Document Management Software
Four features of document management software easily resolve shared drive issues:
- Security: document management provides role or group based security, which allows administrators to define accessibility based on the employee’s role or group dynamically. This is a more reliable way to secure sensitive information from the project level down to the document level. You also do not have to be reliant on your IT department to set-up the security levels.
- Retrieval: regardless of how a document is named, its indexing (defined when the document is scanned or imported into document management software) enables employees to find documents quickly and easily. This eliminates relying upon people to follow established naming and filing conventions and also minimizes keying mistakes. Using barcode sheets automates indexing which completely eliminates manual mistakes and avoids retrieval problems, and zonal optical character recognition (OCR) assists in the indexing process.
- Guest Access: temporary access can be granted to auditors, regulators or other individuals that only need short-term access to a pre-defined document group, making collaboration and sharing secure, easy and controlled.
- Mobile access: employees can easily access business documents from their laptop, tablet or phone with cloud-based document management software. There is no need to rely on cumbersome and possibly unavailable VPN access. Whether your staff is on the road or in the office, access to critical business documents is immediate and reliable.
Shared Drive Retirement
Document management allows far better administration, security, retrieval, guest access, and mobile access than any shared drive ever could. This gives management peace of mind that sensitive company documents, such as employee records or contracts, are only accessible by a predetermined group of people whenever and wherever they are needed. Isn’t it time you retired your shared drive and replaced it with document management software?