Folders have become ubiquitous in electronic document management. For some document management is folders. If we take a minute to step back and analyse folders and how they are used it becomes apparent that far from saving us from document management chaos folders are actually casing many of our problems. Not convinced? Read the rest of this article to find out the 4 top reason why folders don't work.
Reason 1 - Difficult to Navigate
Folder structures are often complex and consist of multiple layers of folders and sub-folders. To make matters worse usually the way the company operates or is structured has changed since the structure was created but the folder structure has not. This makes it difficult for anyone new to the organisation to locate and save information.
Reason 2 - Difficult to Control Content
With folders we rely on the users to manage content and make sure that the correct information is being saved in the correct location. We have no way to control a user putting a technical document in a project management folder unless we manually check the documents coming in. We also have very little control over the contents of a document; users can use their own templates or avoid using a template at all.
Reason 3 - Difficult to View Content
With folders we are fixed with viewing content as the folder structure has it set out. Say we are managing lots of projects; we might create a folder for each project and then create folders within that to manage each stage of a project. What if we wanted to see all the Business Case documents we had produced, we would need to navigate to each project folder, find the document then save a copy to a new folder. This is time consuming and results in duplication. Folder structures force us to see documents in one fixed way and do not allow for a flexible approach that would benefit many organisations.
Reason 4 - Difficult to Apply a Process
Documents form the basis of a lot of organisations, the major products that idea-driven organisations are recorded in documents. As part of a bigger process it would be useful for an organisation to take advantage of this and automate as many processes as possible. However, when documents are hidden away in folders this is impossible as there is no way to link them together.