If there’s one theme that recurs in the content management classes and client work I lead, it’s the need to impose order on out-of-control shared drives so they stop causing pain for people who simply want to find what they require to get their jobs done.
You know what I’m talking about: directories on the network that everyone can get to named “Marketing” or “Sales” or “Accounting” – or worse, labeled I: or S: or other cryptic drive letter – that house a lot, require a divining rod to be useful, and often lead folks either to guess at the content they’d prefer to just copy, duplicate the prior effort, or give up entirely.
None of these outcomes are especially acceptable.
Now, these kinds of file-storage conventions are workable as long as everyone knows what they mean and what’s (supposed to be) stored in each place. But add a new employee or 20, or wave goodbye to the person who set up the original structure, and the system quickly devolves into that kitchen drawer we all have that contains a jumble of stuff we either didn’t know what to do with, or did know but didn’t take the time to properly put away.
So what can you do about it?
The first step is distinctly not to start rearranging things to suit your sense of organization – no matter how good it may be! No; the first thing to do is to let it be known that you’d like to take a crack at it. Better still, get a boss to assign the job to you (if one hasn’t already) so you can let him or her take the heat while you do the work.
Next, take inventory of the documents that are stored there and catalog them according to factors like:
– what kinds of documents they are
– what projects they relate to
– what departments they come from
– who created them and is most likely to need them
– how long it’s been since they were last updated
This will put you on a path to determine who likely will be affected by any change, and which documents may be the most critical to keep track of.
From here, the work only gets more intensive, as you must recruit help from among the affected parties to ensure they have a hand in determining what happens with their ‘stuff,’ and begin the critical tasks of creating a standard taxonomy and metadata to ensure consistent identifying tags are applied, and policies for retention or disposal.
Simple to say, challenging to do. Guess that’s why I hear it so much and get asked to help!
What’s been your shared-drive cleanup experience? Let us know what’s worked and what hasn’t – and if you could use some outside perspective, let us know that, too!