There are two important considerations to be made when you’re looking for file synchronisation software. One is the ability to search and find documents when you need them most. And the other is the power to selectively sync specific files without having to worry about downloading whole folders and jamming up your device. While OneDrive for Business is a great file synchronisation software for many reasons, it falls short in both these areas.
In many ways, file sync and share still mirrors how we used to work in the old days when businesses were run on huge amounts of paper and filing cabinets. The difference today is most of our work is produced digitally, yet the actual way we work is still fundamentally the same. Think of what it might be like if you had to do your job today, say, forty years ago. Before, during and after a document’s creation it would be stored in a folder in a filing cabinet by its category, the client it was associated with, its date, its level of importance or other kinds of information. In other words, its metadata.
If the document was important, copies would be made and they would be archived with similar metadata. If a team member needed to work on that document, they would have to go and retrieve it from the filing cabinet. If someone else wanted to work on it during that time, they couldn’t. Imagine trying to find that file a few weeks later. Not too hard if you have a good filing system. But what if whomever was last working on it misfiled it?
Then and now
It may seem disingenuous to compare the two eras; technology has changed the way we work so much so that a comparison is hardly fair. However, in two important senses, not much has changed for businesses that choose to use OneDrive for Business as their medium for managing documents. First, we still have to use imperfect metadata. Second, when we want to take files out of the office, we have real problems when it comes to keeping everything transparent and in sync.
The importance of sorting by specific Metadata
Metadata is essentially ‘data about data’. If we think back to our 1970s office and our giant filing cabinets and the issues we would face when documents aren’t filed correctly, the importance of metadata is easier to understand. It’s the information we attribute to our data/content/files/documents so that we can find what we need when we need it most.
The issue with OneDrive for Business is not that you are limited in what metadata you can attribute to a document (you can add as many property descriptions as you want). You are, however, limited if you want to filter your documents in OneDrive for Business in a specific way. For example, if you wanted to only see documents that were created in 2016, you can’t. Or another example: if you wanted to only see documents that are related to a contract or project, you can’t.
Again, this can become a big deal if you’re working on large projects with many people for an extended period; you will at some stage want to filter your document list in a specific way to help you answer a question, find a document, see a pattern, etc. Or if you’re on the road, on-site and need a document quickly, metadata was made for this kind of specificity but OneDrive for Business lacks the UI to allow you leverage such specificity. It’s also worth mentioning that you can’t view metadata if you’re working offline. That can pose problems if you travel a lot.
Get selective with your file synchronisation software
Continuing the theme of specificity, OneDrive for Business also fails to adequately cover the need for selective syncing. This essentially just means being able to pick and choose the specific files you want to download onto your device and sync back to the main storage system later. Without selective sync, you are forced to download entire folders onto your device.
This returns us to our 70s-office analogy. Imagine you only needed one or two files from a project folder, but to bring them home with you, you would also have to cart the entire folder too. This brings up a space issue and an access issue for others – they wouldn’t have access to the other files while you had them. It also raises a security issue – what if you lost the folder? And finally, it highlights a compliance issue – are there other files in that folder that have legal implications?
A solution to your issues
Metadata and selective sync capabilities give Easier365 users far more control over their content compared to other sync and share platforms like OneDrive for Business. The solution allows for much simpler selective sync functions to allow for more specific control of your files. And Easier365 also supports a higher-functioning mode of metadata giving you custom views, content type, and file properties allowing you to manage your metadata the way you want to.
No matter your organisation or industry, most of us have similar goals in the enterprise. But when it comes to our everyday work to achieve these goals, we all have specific ways of functioning. A solution that’s flexible enough to allow you to do what you need when you need it is therefore essential, whether you’ve moved on from the moustache and bell-bottoms or not.