Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where Do I Share and Store My Information?

Introduction

Most companies have loads of tools to help employees share and store information. Because we have so many of these tools, it can be hard to decide where to share and store my information.

The company I work for also has this problem. I was asked to explain the differences between the tools and help our employees decide where to share and store information. As promised, I would share this with you. This is what I came up with. Please keep in mind this is focused on our situation. But I think and hope this could be of help for other companies as well. If so, let me know. If not, also let me know!

Situation

Every employee within searches, creates, collaborate and stores information. Several methods and solutions support these processes. However many employees wonder where and when to share and store certain information and what solutions are provided to support the above-mentioned processes.

This post gives our guidelines on storing and sharing information using these tools. This post intends to help the user select the right tool for his/her problem and to store and share information in the right place.

Process-related tools, such as PLM and ERP systems, are not in the scope of this post.

Information Processes

In this memo we distinguish the following information processes:

  • collaboration: an employee shares content with other colleagues to improve, inform and peer.
  • store: an employee stores the content in a certain place.

Two other important information processes, search and creation, are not in scope of this post.

Methods

In the digital domain, the above-mentioned processes relate to the following methods:

Collaboration Tooling is a general term which comprises all tooling that facilitates online collaboration. These tools offer document management functionality (versioning, etc), tasklist sharing, calendar sharing, discussion forums, wiki’s, blogs, instant messaging, news, etc.

A blog is a website, maintained by an individual or a team, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. Usually all entries can be commented on by readers.

A wiki is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites.

(Our) Current IT solutions

To support (our) employees the following solutions are provided:

  • FTP servers
  • Shared network directories (SND)
  • Wiki’s
  • Blogs
  • Discussion fora
  • Compass
  • Sharepoint
  • Document Archive/Vault

When to use what solution?

FTP servers are used to share (large) files, mostly with external parties. FTP servers offer no other document management (DM) functionality than storage.

Shared network directories (SND) are used to share (large) files inside en outside the organization. Shared network directories also offer no other DM functionality than storage.

Wiki’s are used to:

  • dynamically and collaboratively work on the content of a document,
  • build up an online and live knowledge base (such as a manual with working methods).

Usually all people have all rights to edit the content on the wiki. All edits are versioned.

Blogs are used to communicate and discuss personal (business) interests with all readers. All readers may comment on the posts, but the posts can only be posted and changed by the owner(s) of the blog.

Discussion forums are used to ask all readers a certain question or discuss a certain topic. All employees may start a forum thread and all readers may read and respond to the thread.

Compass is our corporate Intranet. Compass is not a collaboration tool. It is used to publish fairly static content on.

Sharepoint is a typical collaboration tool. It is used to manage projects and group initiatives. Sharepoint is used to share and collaborate on files (which contain content), tasks and calenders a.o..

Document Archive is our internal report and memo light-weight records management system. Finalized (Word) documents written in a template can be submitted to this archive, with or without approval (depending on the document type). This archive can be searched.

In summary

To give a clear overview of the different solutions, we summarize their commonalities and differences in the table below.

where do I

And this table as a diagram:

Does this make sense?

I'd really like to know if you think this makes sense? Is it helpful and insightful? Is the diagram correct (- it seems to be too good to be true...)? Can it be used in other companies too?

4 comments:

  1. Hi Samuel,

    As I happen to work for the same company, two remarks.

    1) You didn't mention the C: drive as a place to store information as well as the email systems (both corporate and personal/external ones. Lately I store over 99% of my information there and hardly any in the systems you mention.

    2) You define collaboratoin as "sharing content". I would define it as "working together" and than one sees there are many modes in which people collaborate without sharing content. They might exchange words, gestures, voicewaves :-), but all these don't fall under your scope for storing content.

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  2. Yep, this document could be (and should be?) extended with email, messaging and microblogging. The reason why I didn't add the c-drive is because it's not fit for collaboration. I would say email is not too fit for this either...
    You're right about 'collaboration'. What I meant was 'collaboration tooling'. I agree with you collaboration is much broader that the tooling to support it.

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  3. OK Samuel, so we agree on email, great.

    But why is the C: drive not fit for collaboration. I have shares on my C: drive that effectively turn it into a fileshare. At times I use shared drivers of other users (so not ICT controlled servers). OK, since gmail came along its much easier to create a common email-archive, but that raises another question: which collaboration-patterns are becoming more popular and which are loosing ground? Or a bit deeper, what tools are changing roles? So what are the trend? Can you comment on that?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ah, you share folders on your C-drive. That's what I mean with SND's (personal and ICT ones).
    Trends? Well, we're definitely working toward webdocs (in the cloud) and sharing them. I think FTP and SND will phase out or move to the background. The future of collaboration tools is blogs, wiki's, communicties, and stuff like Sharepoint. Another important trends is RSS-ifying data, info and even things. Collecting, filtering and aggregating feeds is hot, although still not much used and understood.

    ReplyDelete

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