Grace Information Management Blog

Negotiating your company’s shared drive can sometimes resemble a trip through the Amazon. You know there’s some useful and interesting stuff in there but you can’t see it through all the trees and vines.

If a shared drive is chaotic mess, with files belonging to staff that have long since moved on, and a bunch of files called ‘Other’, valuable information can easily get lost.

So here’s a quick guide to getting your company shared drive in order.

1. Start with a clean out.

Whether you decide to start from scratch or work with your existing shared file, you will first need to review the current content. Sort out files and documents that are outdated, duplicated or no longer relevant.

But remember, some documents are necessary for record keeping and legal requirements. These can be removed from the shared drive but need to be archived for future reference.

Always check with the author or senior manager before purging a document.

2. Create a new folder structure.

According to Jill Duffy of PC Mag, shared drives should be designed in a way that matches a department or company’s workflow or organisation chart.

On the other hand, Erin Doland, Editor-in-Chief of Unclutterer, believes you should organise your shared drive by the kind of work your business or organisation completes. For example, if you’re a business with a handful of clients, have folders based on client name and subdivided into projects. If you’re a business that creates products, have folders based on the product and subdivided into projects relating to those products

For some businesses, choosing the right folder structure may be obvious for others, some initial consultation with staff may be required.

To help guide your decision, always consider whether a new person with little knowledge of the organisation would be easily able to locate documents in the shared drive.

3. Naming folders

Once you have drafted a structure you will need to decide what to call your folders.

Never store folders by user name. People resign, get fired, or are promoted and information is easily lost.

Jill Duffy states file names must be:

  • unique
  • indicative of what the file contains
  • scannable (with the human eye) according to how you and your employees find information
  • naturally ordered alphabetically
  • consistent

While you don’t want anything too long you also don’t want it to be full of acronyms. Try and keep the word length to fewer than 30 characters.

You may also find it handy to use a standardised naming structure such as YearMonthDay_project_document.

4. Accessibility and Permissions

Consider who needs access to the folders. Is there information that needs to be shared across departments or information that should be restricted, such as personnel files? Talk to your IT department about applying passwords or access permissions to certain folders.

5. Get everyone on the same page

Ensure all employees understand the new structure and naming process. This ensures consistency and makes sure your hard work is maintained for years to come.

If all of this seems overwhelming, give Grace Information Management a call. Our expert consultants have the software and the know-how to manage your electronic files.