Let’s talk about junk drawers. How many of us have them? What kind of items do you store in them? Is it always junk, or does it double as the designated filing system for all things without permanent homes? Maybe you keep semi-important documents in there; things that you don’t need at the moment, but there is still a high-chance you’ll come back to them at a later time. What happens when you go back to retrieve items “stored away” in the junk drawer? If you’re anything like me, the outcome of the junk drawer retrieval process usually results in frustration, bad words, and a blizzard of 20lb. bond and cardstock from two birthdays ago.
We’re willing to bet that quite a few others have found themselves fighting the battle of the junk drawer, and let me tell you from experience, rarely are there winners. And yet, knowing that reliance on junk drawers typically ends unfavorably, we carry the thought process behind this storage method over into other aspects of our day-to-day routine. Throwing a wallet into an already disorganized purse, looking for a lacrosse racquet in a car trunk whose inner floor hasn’t seen the light of day in over a year, or as it pertains to today’s blog, searching for files within your company’s less than orderly server.
When looking into some of the factors that cause server disorganization, it’s actually quite easy to see how it happens. When there are multiple people using the same system to share and store files, the threat of inaccuracy becomes more prevalent. Add a lack of communication (because tight deadlines happen and might lead to breaks in the line of communication) into the mix, mistakes are bound to happen. These mistakes, unfortunately, can lead to larger problems down the line. Reworks, lost files, inaccurate designs, wasted time- I think that’s a pretty definitive short list.
And just like the fix for your junk drawer problem, the solution to your server problem starts with a quick examination of its contents. From there, decide what’s important, is no longer relevant or has outlived its usefulness, and what are duplicates of other files. If you aren’t doing so already, consider sorting groups of file folders by department. Once your server is cleaned up, assign someone from your team to maintain it and perform quarterly audits. If there are multiple users at your company with a need for sharing files, especially interdepartmentally, I would suggest investing in data file management software to integrate into your server. Aside from its ability manage files, it also puts parameters in place for revision tracking while facilitating collaborative work flows (which could come in handy for remote users).
So, I ask that you do yourself a favor by adding a piece of sanity to your work day. Give your data management system a little TLC and I’m willing to bet it’ll pay off; time being the currency in this equation. If you’d like more information on improving your product data management system, I invite you to check out Kevin Holbrooks’s webinar on assessing the health of your data management system.