Once you get the shared drive reorganized it is important to establish accountability and responsibility to help maintain file structure and organization. As organizations evolve and change, so do file structures and record guidelines. It is essential for a person or department be accountable for the documents, records, and knowledge of the organization to maintain good record keeping. This can be the IT department or a person can be identified in each department or area of the company or organization. This person could have a title called ‘Organization Record Manager’, ‘Department Shared Drive Manager’ or ‘Electronic Record Coordinator’.
The following is a list of possible duties that this person would be responsible for as it relates to documents and records on the Shared Drive network:
- Planning and coordinating annual review and purge of the shared drive with their respective department or area
- Updating the shared drive guidelines and/or policy
- Periodic check and review of the file structure on the shared drive to ensure it is in accordance with the guidelines
- If unknown or unauthorized files are found, investigate ownership and accountability
- Providing training for new hires, including contractors or employees, on the shared drive structure and guidelines
- Authorize user permissions for restricted files within the respective department or area
It is also important to establish end-user and staff accountability. The responsibility for managing individual files or documents should reside with the author, team, or department who created the original file. The document originator or end-user should be responsible for:
- Managing owner or authored files and documents on the shared drive
- Ensure the file and its contents are in accordance with the file structure and document naming conventions
- Removing the file and/or document contents, per the retention guidelines
Establishing this accountability will help an organization to maintain good structure and organization on the shared drive as well as create accountability for all staff to be responsible for good record and file keeping for the organization.
To learn how to organize electronic files on the shared drive, download the report How to Organize Electronic Documents on Shared Drive Networks. Or you are welcome to contact us and we can assist you.
There is some good written guidance on document and file naming conventions. Below are a few entities that have made available their best practices on document naming conventions and protocol.
This PC Magazine article, Getting Organized: Great Tips for Better File Names, provides some good context on why document naming conventions are so important and general aspects to consider when naming documents to make them easier to find.
File manager software programs are intended to replace Windows Explorer. They essentially provide a window to manipulate file directories and access documents. Here are a few recommended file managers if you would prefer to have additional functionality than Windows Explorer offers.
Universal Explorer: This is a free software tool designed for use on PCs to replace Windows Explorer. It offers the capability to view documents without opening them and to compress documents/ files into ZIP folders.
PowerDesk: PowerDesk provides the capability to simultaneously search over multiple drives. It will also customize file folders, such as color coding, labeling, and icon images.
Speedy Organizer: A simple document management system that essentially replaces Windows Explorer and offers good search functionality. Mainly for small- to medium-sized businesses.
Otixo: A file manager app specifically designed for cloud-based applications such as Dropbox, Google Docs, SkyDrive, Picasa, etc.
These file and folder utility system tools work with Windows Explorer and offer additional file management functionality that is not available in Windows Explorer. These tools can help to organize and manage electronic data.
Sky Juice Software: Sky Juice Software offers multiple products, including Quick File Rename and Fast Folder Rename, which allow users to rename multiple files or documents at one time. Folder Maker allows users to create multiple files and folders at one time automatically.
Folder Marker: Folder Marker Home allows users to change folder color or mark folders to indicate priority level and status.
Snag It: This software creates screen images or Print Screen features. It allows users to capture a screen shot, edit, and file it. This is a useful tool to capture file hierarchies in Windows Explorer.
Print File List Pro: Print File List Pro provides the ability to print a file directory within Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer does not offer a way to print or share file hierarchy structures.
To learn more how to organize computer documents, download the free report How to Organize Your Computer Documents.
Currently, there are hundreds of Document Management Systems (DMS) systems on the market. Although the basic functionality is similar, it is important to consider multiple factors before recommending an electronic record keeping system. These issues are important because they will inherently affect the use and trust employees have on a DMS system. Employees who trust the cloud-based document management system to save, retrieve, and manage documentation easily, quickly, and reliably will be more apt to use and adopt the system. Some electronic file systems were designed with a focus on an industry or profession. These systems have additional features and functionality specifically related to that industry. Other document systems are more broad-based and can be used with any profession and/ or industry and customized accordingly.
Some key issues for clients to consider before purchasing a DMS system include the following:
- Size of system required. Determine how much file storage your organization is currently using on the server. And how much storage will be needed on an annual basis.
- Scanning functionality. It is important to have robust scanning options when moving towards a paperless office. The DMS system should have scan software options available.
- Search functionality. The search functionality is probably one of the more important aspects to consider when choosing a DMS system. This is a key element for finding and retrieving data quickly. It is important to have the ability to search using multiple fields such as keywords, date created, author, etc. Make sure the system is speedy and can display results in five to ten seconds. Having robust search functionality builds trust in the system, and employees will have a tendency to adopt the system more quickly.
- Ease of use and user training. Any new software in an organization requires staff training. Make sure the DMS system seems user friendly and intuitive to non-IT related employees. Engage a few employees to test the proposed DMS system, and observe the ease of navigating the system. Be sure to inquire about the type and cost of training programs the vendor offers.
- Permissions. To ensure confidential data is secure, it will be important to understand the function of access rights within the system. Ideally, the system should allow the author of the document the capability to grant permission to the appropriate job level and/ or specific individuals.
- Recognition and integration with other systems. The DMS system should easily integrate and recognize other major software systems used by the organization. It will be important to test various document formats and files to ensure capability. Make sure that the DMS system can search email profiles to find specific emails.
- Retention. Make sure the DMS system has strong retention functionality. Fields should be available to denote how long a document should be retained. Industry-specific DMS systems should have built-in compliance guidance. If the system has an auto-delete function based on the retention inputted, be clear on the system process of those deleted documents.
- File hierarchy structure. Make sure the system has the ability to create and design a file hierarchy. File hierarchies are still important for users who think of data and documents related to a specific file structure.
- Scalability and transferability. As with all systems, an organization will eventually outgrow them. First determine if the prospective system has the capacity and functionality to grow along with the business. If the client company decides to use another DMS system, determine if the data can be easily migrated into a new more robust DMS system.
- Upgradability. It is important for the vendor to have a few upgrades to show improvements in the system, but if there is a significant upgrade every year, this cost might need to be budgeted annually and/ or prohibitive to an organization.
- Backup. Although all companies have an internal backup system, the DMS system should also have its own backup utility. Find out what type of format or encryption code is used. Be clear on the restore process if data is ever needed and/ or lost.