Smarter Business™ spoke to two business leaders about how they use file sharing to streamline workflows, help boost productivity and organise personal tasks. Here are their secrets.
Choose a service that suits your work platforms
Michelle Bourke, founder and chief executive officer of digital marketing agency Artlivemedia, says her team spent “countless hours” running tests on multiple cloud file-sharing platforms to understand how to run a fully cloud-based business with a presence in three countries.
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She suggests you ask the following questions when choosing a file-sharing and storage service:
- Does it allow your team flexibility in what operating systems they use?
If so, stability of desktop and mobile apps across both platforms will be a critical decision-making factor for your team.
- Do you use Microsoft Office365 online or G Suite (specifically Google Sheets/Google Docs)?
If so, then this will also determine the best system for your team.
- Do you want this system to replace on-premise systems altogether?
If you want the service for more than sharing one-off files, and to be used easily by team members in multiple locations, then having local file sync will be a critical factor.
Forget uploads – just sync for effortless file sharing
“If I would give one piece of advice, it would be to choose a file-sharing system that allows selecting syncing,” Bourke says. “If you are trying to keep everything cloud-based, nothing will slow a team down more and encourage them not to use the system than having to open up a browser window and constantly upload files manually to the cloud.”
“Syncing ensures the system feels completely seamless to the team member,” she adds. “They don’t have to think about it; it’s about reducing the effort to zero.”
“Another key principle once you have rolled out a cloud-based file-sharing system is that when communicating internally, no team member should ever send files – only links to files,” she adds. “This ensures multiple versions of documents don't float
“For instance, we only communicate with clients via email. Internally, we all communicate via Slack and use Trello to manage projects. Both systems allow us to upload files, but we have a strict rule against it.”
A good filing system saves you time
Holly Cardew, chief executive officer and founder of pixc.com – a service that re-touches and optimises product images for e-commerce businesses – uses file-sharing services to share photos with staff and customers, and a direct integration with one service to process customer orders.
She encourages business owners to “start a filing system and process early on” when using file-sharing and storage services. As the team grows in size, the system and processes will enable individual members to easily locate different documents.
Make the most of any related apps
It’s clear to see that there is more to file-sharing and storage service than meets the eye, especially when used with related apps. For example, you can capture receipts and other documents from your smartphone to help make bookkeeping easier. Once you take a
photo of a receipt or scan it, you can store the image in a file-sharing service. Some services let you attach a location to the receipt, and tag the receipt for easy filing and searching.
In fact, Evernote lets you snap business cards with your smartphone camera and automatically extracts contact information to create a searchable directory. Depending on the person’s details, Evernote will invite you to connect on LinkedIn with a single click. With no more business cards cluttering up your desk or being lost in jacket pockets, networking just got a lot easier.
Then there’s Box, which allows users to share, view and edit any file, including photos and videos taken directly from a smartphone or tablet.
For in person file-sharing, it’s worth looking at Skype for Business, which lets you securely meet with up to 250 people who have a compatible device and internet connection.
It’s obvious that file-sharing and storage services can deliver huge benefits for businesses, but choose the one which best matches your needs. Don’t forget to review associated apps and the benefits they can deliver.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of Telstra or its staff.