Turn a Shared Drive Nightmare into a Dream

Project-Management.com has a new article featuring FileHold document management software.

Turn Your Shared Drive Nightmare into a Centralized, Efficient Dream

Like most businesses, you started out with a few computers running on a small network. Then your business grew and suddenly there are files scattered across several shared drives with several different versions of documents residing in different places in the network. How do you know which document is the most recent version? How do you find information? In many cases, nobody knows.

With any business, there comes a point when it’s time to consolidate, centralize, and share documents in a centralized, organized, and secure environment. This is the time to implement a document management system. But in order to implement a document management system, you will need to get your current documents prepared for the move.

It is easy to understand that getting your documents on shared drives cleaned up and organized can greatly simplify and make a document management system implementation more accurate. But how do you go about this? There may be hundreds of thousands or millions of documents that need to be migrated and trying to make sense of that information can seem daunting. If you are planning on moving documents stored on shared drives into a document management system, learn how to get your unstructured information under control prior to the implementation. The steps outlined below can help your document management system implementation run smoother.

Shared Drive Preparation Phase

The first step to cleaning up shared drives is to make sure the right people are involved. This includes IT, HR, Legal, the document management system implementation team, and any employee that stores documents on the shared drive. All employees with information on a shared drive should attempt to clean up their documents. This includes removing: temp files, software downloads, multiple copies of documents, personal emails and .pst files, computer backups, personal photos, music, etc. Getting rid of the useless, non-business documents makes managing the important information easier. Once the general cleanup has been done, the “good” content can be organized into a more useful manner.

After the general population of the organization has gone through their shared drives, the IT team can further improve the content by creating a migration plan. The migration plan can include information such as how many documents need to be migrated, where the information is stored (which servers and shared drives), how to classify the unstructured documents, and have a repeatable process to ensure consistency for all of the shared drives. Various software tools can be employed to remove duplicate records, empty folders, odd characters (such as !#$%^&), and long file names.

Document Management System Preparation Phase

During the shared drive clean-up phase, stakeholders should start planning a file structure policy for the documents that will be migrated to the document management system. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating a file structure policy:

  • The policy is repeatable across all departments.

  • Consider how someone in each department would go about adding content and searching for information.

  • Don’t set up a structure that easily provides for a document to reside in multiple locations.

  • Use structure names (Cabinet, Drawer, Folder) that help identify where a document resides.

  • Use metadata or indexes to further classify a document. Don’t attempt to use folders to classify information. Not only will this simplify your structure but it will be easier to search and retrieve your information as well.

  • Create file naming policies so that all documents are consistently named and easily recognizable.

  • Keep it simple! Don’t use a lot of folders unless you want to end up with another shared drive structure. Keep the structure to 3-4 levels deep to ensure manageability.

The Migration Phase

Once your shared drives are cleaned up and the file structure policies are in place in the document management system, you are ready to migrate your documents. This can be accomplished using various tools that work in conjunction with the document management system.

There are several ways that documents can be easily moved to the FileHold Document Management System. Documents can be added en masse using the Watched Folder tool which can simply point to the folder on the Shared Drive. You can use the Manage Imports tool if you have created an XML file that contains all the metadata and file structure for the documents. You can also add documents manually from the FileHold Desktop Application. In addition, custom solutions can be designed and implemented based on your needs. Ultimately, the document management software implementation team should ensure the migration is a success with minimal down time.

FileHold can help you organize and implement a successful migration from an unstructured mess to a highly structured, highly organized document management system. The Professional Services team have successfully migrated millions of documents for many organizations into FileHold document management software. FileHold can end the frustration of shared drives and make a migration to a document management system simple.

For more information on migrating documents out of shared drives and into FileHold, contact [email protected].