Have you ever considered how your organization shares documents and files? Is it an organized process? Is it optimized so that it works well with a remote team, facilitating operational efficiency? Let’s take a closer look at how you can centralize your document repository in a way that helps your remote team operate more effectively than ever.
What is a Centralized Document Repository?
A centralized document repository is essentially any type of cloud-based file-sharing platform where you can upload and store documents. Users can check files in and out, edit them, and re-upload them. They can also delete or move files throughout the enclave as well, depending on the level of access the site administrator gives them. Because these platforms are cloud-based in nature, users with access only need a working internet connection and a PC or laptop to access the repository. You’ll have to pick a specific platform – your best option is Microsoft SharePoint (more on that below).
Benefits of Shifting to the Cloud vs. a Local Server
The alternative to storing your documents on the cloud is using a local server. There are a number of advantages you can gain by opting for the cloud-based approach, including:
It Keeps You Organized
Creating documentation is the lifeblood of your business. It’s how you capture repeatable processes, win new work, develop strategy, and produce deliverables that fuel your organization’s growth. There are many types of documents you’ll need or want to store, but more important than the format is having a uniform place to store them. This will help your team stay organized, cutting down on the time spent searching for files. They’re all included in one location.
Day-to-day Operations Will Flow More Efficiently and Smoothly
Your team can treat SharePoint as it’s an online hub for communication and collaboration. This helps your team become more productive in a number of ways. If you need to collaborate on an individual project, editing multiple iterations of a document, SharePoint gives you that capability. Multiple users can view and edit the same document, though not all at once, so there is version control built into the platform.
SharePoint Allows You to Level-up Your Recordkeeping
There are numerous reasons why you’ll want to keep well-documented, comprehensive records of your company’s work. You may want to track your organization’s progress. Perhaps you’ll want to have all your company’s various standard operating procedures or policies on file in case you need to respond to an event or manage a crisis. Or maybe you work in an industry with compliance standards you need to account for with regulators, and documentation is needed to do so.
Whatever your reasoning, recordkeeping is made much easier when you have one place to do it. SharePoint is perfectly suited to give your employees easy access to any and all company records.
It’s Uniquely Beneficial for Remote Work
Remote work has never been more popular, prevalent, and necessary. That means thinking outside the box in terms of how you communicate within your organization when they’re not working in various locations. A cloud-based document repository provides your team with a mechanism they can all access remotely. As long as their internet connection is strong and secure, they’ll have no issue staying plugged into your team’s communication with access to a repository.
The benefits of centralizing your document storage on a cloud-based platform are apparent, but there’s still the matter of transitioning to the new platform. Below are some best practices on how to execute that transition.
Determine the Platform You’d Like to Use
There are different products or platforms you can use, but the most comprehensive platform is Microsoft SharePoint. It has a wide range of capabilities such as:
- The ability to share resources and documents via your company’s intranet
- Encouraging enhanced collaboration
- Helping to establish complex operational workflows
- A powerful search feature that allows you to quickly access your team members’ collective knowledge
Another advantage is that SharePoint integrates with the larger Microsoft Office 365 suite of applications. For example, if you use the collaborative communication app Microsoft Teams, you can link to SharePoint from that program. If you’re using Office 365’s other powerful business applications, it helps streamline your team’s communications.
Compile All Your Documents
The next step in the process is gathering all your documents. This involves identifying every platform, app, or local server where you currently have documents stored. This may seem like the most cumbersome part of the process, and it likely will be. But once you get past it and transition to SharePoint, you’ll no longer have your documents in disparate locations. That makes maintaining and locating them that much easier.
Once you understand where all your documents are currently stored, you’ll have to then determine which documents you want to keep on file. While it’s important to be comprehensive in your recordkeeping, you also don’t want to store excess files that have no practical business value or application. For example, if your team went through several draft iterations of a document before finalizing it, you may want to discard the earlier draft versions that are no longer valid.
Work with as many people in your organization as you need to determine: 1) where your documents are located and 2) which documents you’ll need to store.
Categorize Your Documents
Now that you have the appropriate documents compiled, it’s time to categorize them. You’ll do this by developing a filing structure. You’ll want to be careful here to not get too granular as it can make the repository too difficult to navigate. On the other hand, not establishing enough sub-folders will make it harder to find specific files you’re looking for.
If you have departments, you may want to create a folder for each department followed by a series of folders within the larger one. Be logical, and consult your team members who will be accessing the folders on a regular basis to see what makes sense for them. Organize your documents in a way that will be convenient for those using the repository most often.
Determine Who Needs Access
Once you’ve established your filing structure, you’ll want to determine access rights. That means that you’ll need to identify who within your organization requires access to the repository based on the contents and then have an IT administrator grant them access privileges.
SharePoint also allows you to give different levels of rights to different users. For example, let’s say you’re team is drafting a business proposal. In the early stages when it’s still under development, you’ll want your writer to be able to edit the document. However, when it’s undergoing a strategic overview of your company’s leadership, you may only want to give executives or upper-level management the ability to edit.
With SharePoint, you can grant users the ability to edit documents or give them “read-only” rights. It all depends on the type of collaboration you want to use the repository for.
Clearly Define the Rules of the Repository
SharePoint is a versatile tool in that there are so many communications needs it fills. The question then becomes, how do you want to use it? The penultimate step of the transition process is to ensure you have a clear objective for the repository and share the rules for using it with your organization.
Do you want to use it to store final documents, or to collaborate on draft documents? If you want to use it for both, do you have clearly labeled folders for both purposes? When you have numerous employees working remotely and accessing the repository throughout the day, it’s critical to have an established set of rules that everyone understands to cut down on any confusion. Also, be sure to be careful in who you grant access to avoid any future disruption to productivity or operations.
Transfer Your Files
At this point, you’ve:
- Selected the right file-sharing platform
- Identified your documents and gathered them
- Categorized those documents with a common sense filing structure
- Determined organizational access rights
- Defined the rules of the repository
Now you’re ready to transfer the files. SharePoint makes it simple to upload multiple files quickly. You can easily move them from a local server with just a few mouse clicks. Once your files are uploaded, your organization is now prepared to work more efficiently while working remotely.
The Bottom Line on Centralizing Your Document Repository to Support Remote Work
We’re living and working through a new era of business. Remote work may be more popular now than it’s ever been due to many circumstances, but it’s likely here to stay as organizations and employees find it more conducive to productivity. Centralizing your document repository helps you lean into our new working reality.
While it’s clear why you’d want to move forward with setting up a SharePoint site, actually executing each step in the process isn’t always so easy. It involves forethought, coordination, and strategic planning. It’s also vital to get it right – missteps in the transition can lead to missing documents or other issues that can impact your organization. That’s why for your centralization, you’ll want to work with a provider who can double as a trusted partner, guiding you through the process with expertise.
At NetTech Consultants, we can be that trusted partner. We have experience assisting organizations set up SharePoint sites that lead to greater effectiveness and efficiency. For more on how we can help, contact us today!