On its face, storing documents electronically on a shared drive seems like a much better option than only having paper copies of critical documents. However, electronic documents not indexed and stored correctly can get misfiled or lost just as easily as their paper brethren, if not more so.
Organizations can avoid major problems by utilizing document management software with its standard naming/indexing policies, check in/out and version control functionalities—so you can retire your shared drive for content management purposes. Now with The Cloud, document management is even more cost-effective, more readily available and more flexible for managing your critical business documents—and far easier to use than a VPN.
Paper Problems Replicated Electronically
Even with file naming conventions in place, shared drives rely on:
- Applying naming policies correctly—difficult at a minimum and, in reality, impossible to enforce, even among a small number of staff
- Storing documents in the right folder—good luck, files are often saved or moved to the wrong folder unintentionally, especially if you suffer from thick-thumb syndrome where you thought you saved it to folder 2A but you saved it to folder 1Z
- Ensuring that everyone is working on the latest version of the same document that’s been emailed around 100 times or is one of 20 documents on the drive that all look the same—fingers crossed
Let’s face it: no one ever needs to see another document like this… FINAL_final_final_budget proposal_2013_approved_abc(2)_01-15-2013.xlsx
It Gets Worse
And then there’s that “small” matter of security and remote access. Unless IT or departmental management has meticulously set, verified and tested access rights to each and every folder and document on the shared drive, confidential HR, legal and product development documents can be opened by the wrong people, emailed inappropriately or accidentally deleted. Just being able to see the name of a file can jeopardize confidentiality.
For those who do have the appropriate access, then there’s the problem of having to deal with VPN on public Wi-Fi networks—with user headaches at best and possible corporate security breaches at worst. You won’t know if you have access until you try to log in; not the most opportune time to find out. And what happens when the server is unavailable or fails altogether? Have you ever had to restore from back-up? If you just shuddered, we know you have.
A Simple Answer
Document management software get around these problems by:
- Ensuring that everyone works off of the same document in one central location with check/in out, version control and no more emailing changes around
- Tracking who accessed which documents and what they did with them
- Providing more flexibility in how you get back to a document with search capability based on multiple index fields
- Defining drop-down values for index fields and eliminating manual data entry errors
- Providing secure and remote access to all electronic documents, particularly when stored in the cloud
The Cloud vs. On-Premise Software
Most organizations can now take advantage of highly secure and redundant document management technology in The Cloud for a fraction of the cost that only the largest companies could afford in the past. Think “opex vs. capex” (predictable operating expense vs. significant capital expense).
Additionally, the cloud replaces VPN and all its headaches, and even serves as your defacto disaster recovery system, should you lose power or equipment for any reason. If you’re concerned about cloud security, most applications are SSAE 16 SOC 2 or SOC 3 compliant, utilize encrypted data transmission and have redundant data centers located on different power grids guaranteeing 99.9% uptime—which is a whole lot more secure and dependable than the vast majority of server rooms out there.
There are multiple cloud document management software systems and in-house document management software systems to choose from. We recommend that you choose an experienced partner that represents more than just one type of system to avoid all of the problems related to paper documents, electronic shared drives and VPN.