File shares: easy going

Storing documents and other files on a file system is quick and simple. This makes it tempting to use file systems for the storage of documents. It is easy to set up, inexpensive to purchase and understandable for users. Actually, it seems like an unbeatable solution, except that storing content on file systems has many drawbacks.

I’m certain that this is something you all have experienced at least once: A colleague has lost a day's work. He claims with certainty that he has stored the work, but it is all gone. Most of these kinds of mistakes happen while working with documents on file shares.

Always those missing documents
Disappearing documents: documents that have been accidentally deleted, documents that have been accidentally overwritten, documents that are saved in the wrong place. Sometimes, it might be documents that are so ‘old’ that we no longer know in which folder they are in. The time users spend on searching is enormous.

The main objective of good Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system is to store documents securely, and to keep them findable. Version management and custom authorizations prevent documents from accidentally being deleted or overwritten. Tight integration with office applications can also help ensure that all documents are saved in a safe environment during editing.

Do I have the correct document in front of me?
Documents are created to work together, in a project, a dossier or a form. When you and your colleagues forward documents to each other, in the long run no one knows if they have the latest version of the document. You can also create a folder on the file share for a project. But, who guarantees that this folder contains the proper documents?

ECM systems, business systems and processes show users the documents contained in the folder, documents that are valid and current. They control who can see your business documents. By giving people access, you can determine what they see. And if a document must be sent by e-mail, this can be done in a secure manner.

Time for real document management
Users store their working documents on file shares in private files. But, they do the same with business documents. "Why should I keep a year-old document? I don’t do anything with it." It gets even worse when a colleague leaves the company and his drive is removed. Suddenly your business documents, which were coincidentally on his drive, are also gone.

Every day, there's something going wrong with documents, especially on file shares. This results in frustration, lost time, and therefore costs. In addition to the risks to your business, there are also legal risks and the risks of violations of laws and regulations.

Wouldn’t it be wise to store business documents in an ECM system? That way, everyone can find them, or at least you can reduce the risk of anyone deleting documents. It's up to you to weigh the risks against the cost of a real ECM system.

This blog was written by Reinoud Kaasschieter, Experienced Solution Architect at Capgemini

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