How to Prepare Your Team for Cloud-Based File Sharing

What you need to know as you prepare to move your organizations files into Microsoft 365.

In the past year, the Covid pandemic has highlighted for many businesses the various weak points and soft spots in their IT infrastructure. As businesses have come to take remote work for granted, systems that used to be accommodations for a few have now become necessities for all. While some organizations were well prepared, others adopted makeshift methods that were never meant to be more than temporary. With the modern workplace looking like it will increasingly integrate some degree of remote work, businesses need to look toward making those temporary measures permanent.

One of the most important aspects of a remote office has to do with the location of business-related documents. Reports, worksheets, memos, accounting data, design files, and many more working documents need a storage place that is easily accessible to all team members. And the only way to accomplish this in a distributed work environment is through a cloud drive.

Fortunately, the file sharing infrastructure provided by Microsoft 365 offers the perfect solution to many businesses. Not only does it readily integrate with many of the programs these workspaces already use, it also offers a robust features set designed to help businesses manage files effectively and securely. Here’s what businesses need to be aware of as they prepare to migrate their files onto Microsoft 365.

Potential challenges of cloud-based file sharing:

The challenges involved in moving a file-sharing system to a cloud drive are not overly difficult to manage. In fact, many of these challenges also exist on local networks, and cloud drives remove other difficulties while offering significant advantages. However, businesses should understand concerns that are different for cloud-based file sharing systems, so that they can prepare accordingly.

  • Security. Cloud-based file sharing is not less secure than local networks, but it does come with its own security challenges. Businesses will need to carefully manage access controls to ensure sensitive documents aren’t accidentally leaked, and to prevent a security breach from compromising the system.
  • Speed and storage. Any cloud-based system will rely on internet speeds for uploading and accessing files. Some platforms are more streamlined, to make access faster, and offer varying storage plans.
  • File structure management. Everyone names their files differently, and when these files are combined on a cloud drive, it can quickly lead to chaos. Businesses should have a file naming system in place before they migrate, and should be prepared to maintain it.
  • Version control. With multiple users collaborating on a document, tracking employee changes and revisions is key.

Advantages of could-based file sharing on Microsoft 365

While businesses need to be thoughtful and organized about transferring their files to a cloud-based system, the advantages of doing so are significant and are the only viable path forward for companies who want to be prepared for a future that combines office-based and remote work. These advantages include:

  • Access anywhere. The most tangible benefit to a cloud drive is that it allows users to access shared documents from any location. This means a team member in North America can upload a file from an office work station, which can then be modified by a second team member in Europe, after which those changes can be reviewed by the North American colleague from a home office.
  • Secure backup and recovery. Lost work is a significant liability for many businesses. At best, it can cost employees time as they redo work that they had done previously. At worst, it can mean some data that is lost permanently and cannot be retrieved. Cloud drives offer a secure way to backup data so that it is not lost.
  • Real-time collaboration. There are numerous instances where having multiple people working in a document can make it easier for all team members to get work done. A cloud-based document can let users simultaneously edit, no matter where they are.
  • Access control and user management. One of the beautiful things about Microsoft 365’s file sharing framework is it makes documents more accessible while also offering more tools to control that access. Not only can you manage user access, you can also set up sophisticated endpoint conditions that prevent access on devices or in locations that are not deemed secure enough.

Recommendations for successfully migrating your files systems to Microsoft 365

Migrating files into any cloud drive should not be done on the spur of the moment. Without planning, the migration can lead to files being lost or improperly organized, and this situation will only grow worse as more people begin using the platform. Instead, we recommend businesses follow the following rules to prepare for their move.

1. Delete unused and unnecessary files.

Decluttering is the first step when migrating files over. Look for any files that you haven’t used recently, and which aren’t necessary for legal or practical purposes. If you don’t need files for record keeping and don’t have any likely need for them in the future, go ahead and delete them.

2. Migrate in order of least to most access.

Moving to a cloud drive is a good opportunity to assess who needs access to various documents. Sharing files broadly with the entire company just leads to more clutter, and it’s harder for others to understand how important a file is—and whether it might be OK to delete it—if they aren’t the owner.

Have employees begin by migrating personal files to OneDrive, where they will have ownership. Then have teams migrate files onto Teams, where they can control access and collaboration. Finally, move organization-wide files into SharePoint. These will primarily be read-only files that employees need for reference, rather than working documents.

And remember, anything that doesn’t fit into this structure can probably be discarded.

3. Keep your file structure “flat.”

Finally, as you move files into a shared drive, avoid creating excess tiers of subfolders. We recommend a “flat” storage architecture that keeps more files visible. A “deep” structure, which requires users to click through numerous subfolders to find what they need, can end up inadvertently burying documents where they are harder to find. Our rule of thumb is to keep folders no more than three layers deep.

Moving to cloud-based file sharing will better prepare your business for the modern workplace.

Moving your business’s files to the cloud will position your business for greater growth, make it easier for you to onboard new employees, facilitate teamwork and collaboration among coworkers, and give your company more flexibility in how, when, and where work gets done. Like any move, transitioning to the cloud is a process. But once you’ve done it, you won’t look back.

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