How to Effectively Manage a Shared Drive

Shared drives are an easy, efficient way to store the substantial amount of electronic data companies generate over the course of time.  They are also a great tool for collaborating and sharing information, as well as enforcing document retention and disposal policies. However, having a well-maintained shared drive is kind of like cultivating a beautiful garden.  In order to grow a clean, healthy garden, regular attention and care is necessary. When a company neglects their shared drive, it can quickly become messy and unruly, just like an unkept garden.

The majority of businesses don’t manage their shared drives properly.
Most of the time it’s simply because they don’t know how to allot time and resources to making it happen.  Some businesses are clueless with where to begin because they’ve never had an organizational structure.  The end result is a chaotic shared drive with no rhyme or reason as to what is there and why.  Common problems with this include document duplicates, productivity losses, challenges with search and retrieval, increased security and compliance risk, as well as general business inefficiencies.  

To avoid these pitfalls, every business needs an efficiently structured and managed shared drive.  Here are some tips:

1.  Assess shared drive—Most shared drives are only about 50% organized.   Take some time to see what lies within.  Purge, delete, save, rename, whatever is necessary to give the drive a basic cleaning.  If you’re migrating to a new shared drive this step is just as important.  However, if the drive is fairly new, you’re in luck, and this step shouldn’t take long.

2.  Folder Structure—The most organized and efficient shared drives have a very precise framework for how new folders are created and existing folders are maintained.

Existing folders should be categorized by department.  Documents used by one, or more departments each have a file copy located in the folder.  New folders are created under the category or department to which they are most applicable.

3.  User access and passwords—In order to grant access, but keep data from unauthorized users, access rights and passwords must be set.  This is a key step to remaining compliant and reducing security risks.  It’s suggested that giving access by group, rather than per individual is more secure and easier to implement.

4.  Train departments—Once the drive is cleaned up, it’s critical to thoroughly train users on the system structure and management strategy.  This includes not only how to access and maintain existing data, but the proper steps in creating new files.

Taking full advantage of a shared drive doesn’t need to be daunting or challenging, but it also doesn’t come without some work.  An understanding of the drive’s framework, as well as consideration on how it can be improved is essential.  The result is an efficient and systematic approach to storing and sharing electronic records in a secure, productive way. To learn more about ILM’s solutions for managing electronic data, contact us today!

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