Shared Documents Checklist

Friday, 11 September 2020 - 3 minutes to read


Common storage of documents is important to many businesses, and yet it easily, after a couple of years, turns into a big collection of stale information and old documents that no one remembers any longer what it was for and whether it was relevant.


The idea outlined here is that every document should be able to say

  1. Who owns it
  2. When was it last updated or reviewed
  3. Is it still relevant?

Using this, you should be able to store 1000 years of document history with little problem.

Every organization accumulates artefacts as it grows. To stay lean and fast, you have to find ways to manage this. Effective document management over time doesn't have to be complicated - with a few simple tricks you can easily manage it over time in a regular file system.


Any common document storage needs:

  • Clearly defined areas and folders

    • Every folder MUST have a maintainer - someone who is responsible for updating and reviewing the contents of the folder.
    • Every folder SHOULD have a security classification - is everyone allowed to see the contents? Or just a group of people?
    • Every folder SHOULD have a "README" file or similar that details the purpose and the security classification of the folder, and should contain a log of the maintainer and the review dates.
  • Every document SHOULD have

    • a "last modified" and "last modified by" tag (sometimes implemented in the file system itself)
    • a "last reviewed" and "last reviewed by" tag (could simply be the same as "last modified")
  • Information MUST be reviewed on a regular basis (at least annually) and either update the review tags, or put in archive.

    • When archiving information, pay attention to security classifications
    • Archives should be by year, e.g. 2018\HR Policies ... etc.
  • File and folder names COULD have maintainer and review dates stored in the filenames, if the document storage does not provide these features natively.

    • e.g., S:\Documents\HR Policies [MG] - "MG" is the maintainer of the folder.
    • e.g., S:\Documents\HR Policies [MG]\Computer Security Policy (2020-08-22).docx - document was last reviewed August 22, 2020.
    • For persistent links (that can't change due to file and folder renaming), use junctions or symbolic links in the file system.


Example of how it COULD be implemented:

Directory/Filename Description
S:\Archive Document archive
S:\Archive\2018 Archive for the 2018 review
S:\Archive\2019 Archive for the 2019 review
S:\HR Policies [JG] HR policies, maintained by JG
S:\HR Policies [JG]\2019 Handbook.docx Handbook for 2019, obviously not current, could be archived
S:\HR Policies [JG]\2020 Handbook.docx Handbook for 2020
S:\Sales [XK-Sales] Sales folder, only available to the "sales" group, maintained by "XK"
S:\Sales [XK-Sales]\Archive\2017 Sales archive for 2017 review (stored here due to security reasons)
S:\Sales [XK-Sales]\Archive\2018 Sales archive for 2018 review
S:\Sales [XK-Sales]\Archive\2019 Sales archive for 2019 review
S:\Sales [XK-Sales]\Template (2019-01-01).docx Document, last reviewed 2019-01-01 - probably due for an update
S:\Sales [XK-Sales]\ACME Corp (2020-06-03).docx Document for ACME corp, created/reviewed 2020-06-03
S:\Sales [XK-Sales]\2020 Pricelist.docx File, review date directly baked into the file (2020)
S:\Software [JS] Common software folder owned by "JS"
S:\Software [JS]\README (2020-08-22) README file, indicating last folder review was 2020-08-22, should have notes in it
S:\Software [JS]\CommonClient.exe Downloadable file
S:\Software [JS]\Wupgrade.exe Downloadable file
S:\Users Shared documents owned by individual users
S:\Users\JG Users can store whatever they want in their folders
S:\Users\JS ...
S:\Users\XK ...
S:\Users\MT No longer employed, should be archived

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