Over years organizations have been moving towards enterprise systems to manage data and documents. Still Shared Drive in organizations is very common. Organizations use shared drive to store business information.
Shared Drive has lot of advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest advantage of Shared Drive is the ease of use. But there are multiple challenges using shared drive.
In my current work with the largest organization in India, I have observed multiple issues with these drives which have firmed up my findings from my work with different clients.
I concur to the key challenges captured by Adrian McGrath in his post The Problem with Shared Network Folders. Adrian Quotes
Shared Folders lack much of the essential functionality that is required for organisations to effectively manage and leverage their business related documentation. For example, Shared Folders have no (or limited) capability to:
- Assign metadata to classify and tag documents that would enable those documents to be more effectively found;
- Exercise any formal version control over documents (specifically for Windows operating systems);
- Record an effective audit trail of who has accessed or changed a document;
- Enable documents to be flexibly and easily secured at a granular level;
- Enforce a consistent folder structure;
- Facilitate publishing/distribution of documents from a single source to multiple channels;
- Enable users to be notified when certain types of documents are created or changed;
- Restrict duplication of documents;
- Allow documents to be easily linked and cross referenced.
If we go in details of some of the items mentioned above, it can have a serious negative impact of a Organization. Like duplication can lead to wrong documents being referenced for a critical proposal or user not able to find through the maze of information ending up creating new document and wasting efforts. Very cryptic file names makes it difficult to manage. It is almost impossible to search through the contents of a file and get desired result.
Possible Solution: Some of these challenges can be resolved by providing an efficient enterprise search on top of shared drive. A search with some pre configured queries can help user find what are the duplicates in the system, thus help them eliminate them. With search, if the tool provides facility to add Metadata to the files, it will help enhance the experience further. You can search through the maze of information easily with content search and file name search combination. So organizations who would still like to maintain Shared Drive and get some more benefits out of it, enhanced enterprise search can help them convert their huge pile of files into a proper organizational repository of information.
In our current implementation of FileSorter, we overcame many of these challenges, details of the solution can be found on page.
Conclusion: Shared drives gives lot of flexibility to users, but there are some serious limitations to a shared drive. It is important that organizations either move to an EIM/ECM system or put a enterprise search engine on top of shared dirve, which will help them unlock the value from wealth of knowledge.