Where should I save my stuff?

Almost every day I get asked “where should I save this?”. Sometimes it from clients, sometimes it’s from my team and sometimes I’m asking myself. Will so many choices of where you could save you document, it is no wonder any people simply don’t know. Do I save to the network drive, SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, somewhere else? Oh it’s all to hard, I’ll save to my desktop!

Not knowing where to save leads to all kinds of future problems. Oh where did I save that document? Hey Steve, I’m looking for the document you mentioned and I can’t find it. I’ve found the document but I think it might be a duplicate. I’ve spent ages looking for the document I created last year but I can’t remember where it is. I’ve got a new laptop and all those documents I saved on my desktop are gone (cries). Can you relate?

One of the first steps to solving these issues is to create some ground rules that everyone knows about and agrees to use. Make sure you create the rules with input from others. Keep it simple and your chances of success are better.

For each major type of document content, agree these points:

  • Where to save them
  • Who should have access and who should not
  • How long to keep them for
  • Who is responsible

Create a table with a row for each document type. Focus on the higher value documents first. For example:

  • Supplier Contracts will be stored in the Procurement SharePoint site, they will be accessed by Procurement and Finance teams, they will be kept for 7 years and the Procurement Manager is responsible for these documents.
  • Employment Contracts will be stored Human Resources System (not SharePoint), access is restricted to HR only, they will be retained for the duration of employment and the Human Resources team is responsible for these documents.
  • Project Documents will be stored in the Microsoft Team for the project, access is assigned by the Project Manager and can include external guests, documents are moved to the Project Archive in SharePoint by the Project Manager as part of the project closure process.
  • Etc, etc

Many organisations will have some complex requirements. It may be appropriate to store some documents in SharePoint and many others in other systems e.g. CRM systems, Controlled Document systems, ERP systems or a line of buisness application. The most important thing is to get agreement on what is stored where. You can revise in the future if needed.

To help identify the rules, communicate to your people and validate the design, try creating some user stories for scenarios in your organisation. Here are some examples.

Example user stories

Now for the hard part. Once you have the rules defined, you need to ensure everyone understands and that they are practical to follow. If the rules are to hard and people don’t understand how and why they are needed, they won’t get used. You may also need to allocate time to allow people to tidy up the current environment, this can be a big job and may overwhelm people, take small achievable steps rather than giant leaps.

Finally, once you have the rules in place, ask for feedback, make adjustments and improve. Is it easier to find things now? Did the training explain how to use the system well? What is working well? What needs improving?

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