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A Life Lesson - Sharing is Good

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Life Lesson - Sharing is GoodWhat are the needs of your employees to share documents with people outside of your company? They might share documents with customers, business partners, vendors, lawyers, bankers, government agencies and many other outside parties.

Your users want this to be easy – write an email, attach a document or two and hit send. Your executives want to make sure that the process is efficient, but also meets security and confidentiality requirements. The CIO doesn't want the network to crash or the email system to bog down.

Companies that are using a shared network drive for document management can expect basic sharing to be easy for users (provided they can find the files they are looking for). Users will attach the files to an email, copy the files to a thumb drive or push the files to the cloud. There is generally limited security over this method as a user would be allowed to copy any files they have access to. Also, there is no log entry that the copying took place or where the files went, except in the case of an email.

For companies that use a document management system, the concerns about access and logging typically are met by the application. However, there are other issues that might complicate matters for users. For instance, the system most likely requires a user account be created. That adds more complexity as security rights need to be configured and the recipient now must take some action. If the document management system is not web based, this process is generally not practicable. Even if it is feasible, there is hesitation about letting an outside user into the system because the user may not be fully knowledgeable about the effectiveness of the security.

Why is this an issue? Because no company lives in a vacuum. Information needs to be shared.  Your document management system should provide as many options for sharing as possible. Emailing a document is a must.  But file size can make this impractical.  Most users will not want or have the ability to create a DVD or copy to a thumb drive. Posting the files to a third party system, while easy, may create compliance and security issues.  Requiring the user to set up an account may be overly burdensome or unwanted.

A system that can allow, but track emails to outside users is good. A system that can assemble a set of documents in an organized structure for posting to an online account or for copying to a thumb drive is good.  A system that can send a link to the files that are retained in your current system and track the usage all without a username and password, is very good. A balance between ease of use and security should be the goal. When implementing a document management system, think about the security needs for outside users, there will be outside users.