Developing Responsibility to Maintain Organization on the Shared Drive

Responsibility Road SignOnce 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.

Project Management Support for Reorganization of the Shared Drive

Depositphotos_1306891_xsTaking on the task of reorganization and structure of the shared drive can be daunting. It is important to choose the right internal person to assist and manage this type of project. This type of project requires someone or a team to create user-friendly, standardized, comprehensive, and extensive file structure, taxonomy and data/record management guidelines.

Sometimes an organization delegates the project to entry level or administrative staff. However, with limited decision-making authority, these individuals are often hesitant to change, alter, move, or remove files and documents from the shared drive network. Further, without buy-in from all employees, revised structures developed by one staff often can end up to be a short-term solution and not long lasting.

It is important for organizations to train internal personnel, engage a team, or hire consultants who have IT knowledge and understanding along with a clear process of how to facilitate groups to develop guidelines and an electronic file structure that can last into the future. These project managers or consultants are essentially in organizing the project, facilitating the process and providing counsel on data management best practices.

It is recommended in choosing internal personnel as project managers or project team participants to have the following skills;

  • A good understanding of server Happy team. Isolated.systems and shared drive networks
  • Excellent group facilitation skills; with the ability to foster dialogue and gain group consensus
  • Strong organizational skills and the ability to create file hierarchical systems and taxonomy
  • Strong skill in navigating and using functions and tools in Microsoft Office, and in particular Windows Explorer
  • Good knowledge of file extensions.

Information management, technology and professional organizing consultants can provide the service that offers the expertise needed to develop shared electronic file guidelines and structure. 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.

How to Develop File Hierarchies to Organize Computer Documents

When developing a file hierarchy to organize electronic documents it is important to consider if a structure requires multiple lines of sub-directories. If so, it is best to encourage the use of short folder names to stay within the Microsoft maximum file name and path size of 255 characters. It is also important to be consistent with type cases. Some organizations might prefer all file folders in caps; whereas, others usually make the first letter of the file name cap only. File names and document names are not case sensitive within Windows or Mac systems.

The First Line: Generally, a major department or division of the organization should organize the first line of files. Often teams or departments begin creating their file structure and taxonomy with the second line of files.

The Second Line: The second line of files should be organized by the sub-structure of the division or department which includes a listing of their sub-departments, branches, and/or major functional areas. Also, the second line could include general information for the division including administration, forms, organizational charts, strategic plans, etc.

The Third and Beyond Lines: The third and beyond line of files should be organized by one of the sub-topic methods:

1. Subject; (i.e. budgets, marketing, finance)

2. Alphabetically by name; (i.e. Smith, John)

3. Chronologically; (i.e. by year)

4. Number; and (i.e. project number, contract number, policy number)

5. Geographic region (i.e. city, state, region, country)

Choose a sub-filing option that will be the first reference point to access information. For example if there is a second line folder called “Budgets,” the users could create the third line sub-file by year, by area within the department, or by location of an office. Again, it is important to choose the sub-topic method by the first reference or access point. In this example, it is more common with budgets that the first reference point is by calendar or fiscal year, but that could be different for other organizations.

To learn how to organize electronic files and 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.

Choosing a Storage Location for Electronic Documents

There are multiple locations in which to save, file, store and organize electronic data. It is best to have one system that is considered the ‘master’ repository of data as well as clarity on each system and how it will be utilized. When there are too many systems and locations for data it can be difficult to manage and keep organized.  The following are various storage locations for electronic documents and ways to use each;

Shared Drive (common shared folders): The Shared Drive is the common document location for all files relating to an organization unless the organization has a designated document management system. These documents usually contain key information that should be available throughout the organization. The common Shared Drive, along with IT Systems, are considered an ‘official’ record keeping location. Ideally, all documents that are pertinent and key to the organization should be available in the common Shared Drive.

Shared Drive (Personal folders/ H Drive): In most organizations, staff usually has a personal location on the shared drive that is often mapped to the letter H. Usually no other associates has access unless permission is given. Working and personal documents could be kept on the H drive. The H drive is also an appropriate location for all personnel or confidential files for a manager or supervisor. Ideally it is best to have ‘official’ records of an organization in a common repository and not located under someone’s own personal filing system. To learn more how to create an electronic file structure, see the article How to Organize Your Computer Documents.

 Local Drive (or C drive): Some individuals prefer to keep their documents on their local hard drive, or C drive, and not on the network server because they find it is easier to access via home or other remote locations. The C or local drive is usually not backed up by IT departments therefore this data is at risk if the hard drive fails.  This best location to store personal electronic data that is either on the personal shared drive (H drive) or an online cloud based system, such as Google Docs because either location is backed up and only accessible to the user.

Online Cloud Storage:  Google Drive, DropBox and MS Skydrive are all examples of document online storage systems that have become popular with today’s workforce.  Working, reference and personal documents could be kept in online cloud storage system. These systems do give users that ability to share data and collaborate on documents with users who do not have access to an organizations shared drive or network. it is recommended that pertinent, important and ‘official’ data to an organization also be saved on the common Shared Drive. See this blog entry, Organizing Documents in the Cloud for Mobile Devises, for more information on system options to organize electronic documents.

Contact us if you would like assistance in organizing your computer or shared drive.