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Best Practices for Cleaning-up the "Shared Drive" - Help Please!

Shared Drive Best PracticesGreetings - I recently became CFO for a home builder and noticed that the company’s “Shared Drive” is in a state of disarray – project documents are located in multiple locations and there is no logic to the file structure. Reorganizing the Shared Drive has been on the corporate “To Do” list for some time but has never risen to a must-do priority level. Because the company is growing rapidly and lack of organization will only get worse, I would like to tackle this issue but need guidance – losing, misplacing, or corrupting files is not a good way to make a first impression! Can anyone provide guidance or best practices as to how this task might be accomplished? Thank you in advance for your input.


Muhammad Danish Fareed
Title: AM. Revenue
Company: AWRostamani
(AM. Revenue, AWRostamani) |

Hi Steven,

A quick Google of the issue results in gamut of answers. There is even a video on you tube for best practices in managing shared drives.
I can share my experience when faced with a similar scenario. My first act was to issue a quick guideline on file naming and location structure that needed to be followed hence forth. People were asked to stop using current filing practices and locations and were to transfer their files (when accessed) to new filing structure and form.
IT was kind enough to help; making existing drive read only, which forced everyone to follow instructions. Overtime things have settled down!


Steven Prevost
Title: CFO
Company: The Signorelli Company
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, The Signorelli Company) |

Thanks Danish - that's very helpful.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Danish starts the ball rolling.

A shared drive is really no different than your old paper filing system.

Make a policy that includes:

Directory Names
File names

Make sure that they can be tied back (where necessary) to the accounting system/other databases so material can be found if needed.

Assign someone collateral duties as the Shared Drive Database Administrator (they used to be called the File Clerk - times have changed).

Be persistent on making sure the policy is followed - explain the costs involved in creating the documents and what that would re-cost the company to re-make. Most people never think that far.

Steven Prevost
Title: CFO
Company: The Signorelli Company
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, The Signorelli Company) |

Good advice - especially the Database Administrator. Thanks Wayne!

Amy Omand
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Tipping Point Community
(Director of Finance, Tipping Point Community) |

I've dealt with this many times at several organizations - it's maddening! Especially as I'm a purger by nature, so seeing files that haven't been touched at all irks me.

Find other allies in your organization - if your files are organized by department, convene a cross-departmental task force to ensure each department's individual needs are heard, this will make adoption easier.

I also regularly use "Archive" folders to put old files in for a set time period (6 months?) and if they haven't been used, they go bye bye.

Lastly, my organization did just move to a cloud file storage solution, which is a much bigger project than just cleaning up your structure, but it served as a good reason to clean up before moving all of our files to the cloud. And now we have all of our files accessible wherever we have our laptops and on our mobile devices. They also have solutions for file version control which reduce the number of files that we need to save. You may want to look into that as well! We chose

Good luck!

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I'd make one exception. The cost of digital storage in the cloud is SO low, that it pays to keep things forever. You never know...

Talk with your General Counsel and Auditor.

Topic Expert
Brenda Goudey
Title: CFO/VP of Finance
Company: KDR Designer Showrooms
(CFO/VP of Finance, KDR Designer Showrooms) |

We solved this problem by setting up a SharePoint site. It's easier to do than it sounds, only requiring minimal assistance from IT staff and we now have full control over who can add or modify documents or add new folders.

Chris Holtzer
Title: Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis
Company: Sargento
(Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis, Sargento) |

I did this at a previous company before they underwent an ERP overhaul. The idea was to limit compliance risk, but clean up the garbage.

I think most of the advice has been very good. In most companies, everyone is given free reign of the "Shared" drive, and 80% fall into line, and continue the status quo, but 20% go off and do their own thing.

In the end, you need to have a naming convention that makes sense to the business process owners, but also one that clearly identifies what is contained in each sub-folder.

Wayne's on the right track, but I would add that dates need to be in structure in a predetermined location and format. This allows you to come back X years later and just kill anything over (insert time frame) years old. There are significant risks to keeping records indefinitely, and you can free up some serious server space (and money) by getting it clean and keeping that way.

It is a daunting task, and there isn't really a playbook for how to do it. Make sure to remind your team to think about the best possible scenario instead of the best they have done in the past. Too much energy gets wasted preserving inefficient habits or to deal with one off scenarios. So keep them focused on the best solution for most situations, and then deal with the "one-offs" as exceptions to the rule, rather than having over complicated rules.

Topic Expert
Jim Quinlan
Title: CFO, Managing Director
Company: Trinity Group, BlueGold, Genergy, Wellco..
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, Managing Director, Trinity Group, BlueGold, Genergy, Wellcount) |

All good suggestions so far.

Using the Cloud would be a good move as that is definitely the future.

Also, find a program that can check all the documents and tell you which are duplicates; that should help thin the ranks.

In your position of starting a new position, while this would be nice to complete, you should have higher return tasks. Delegate this and get to ones that get better data to your operators.

Wish you well!

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