The iPhone changed our lifestyle but it lacks the access to a file system with files and folders that we are used to. This led to a high demand for cloud services to synchronise files between devices, such as Google Drive and other similar services like Dropbox and OneDrive. These services are not only similar to the old explorer, but are also better in that your files are available everywhere.
As the use of more than a PC for work becomes more common, it is natural that the same service is in demand among employees. At first glance, this may seem rather unproblematic. Milk and honey and no more USB sticks. From a document management perspective, it’s not quite that simple. In fact, Google Drive suffers from the same shortcomings as the file server.
Chaos with Google Drive
The documents are organized in a folder structure that only the creator knows the logic behind and the folder is the only metadata available. This makes it difficult for new employees in particular to find documents because they are not familiar with the history behind the structure. It is also not possible to build as sophisticated search solutions as you can with a document management system. Being able to edit documents anywhere, with anything, at any time also comes with a price. Sharing a document in the cloud between a handful of colleagues may be convenient, but what happens when you access the vast library of governance documents in this way?
Sooner or later, someone will open a document and edit it with poor or no connectivity. The user saves and Google Drive creates a date-stamped copy to avoid conflicts. Elsewhere, an unknown number of others may have done the same. There are now several versions of the same document and no one knows how to merge them into one. The classic problem of email attachments has been moved to the cloud and chaos ensues.
MetaShare allows you to index documents with metadata, leading to good searchability. Thanks to integration with the Office suite, you can open documents from your browser and save directly to MetaShare without using the file system as a middleman. With co-authoring, multiple users can edit the same document in real time without having to keep track of separate versions. With MetaShare, it is perfectly possible to make the documents available even outside the office via the browser.
The web interface also allows you to search metadata, which you can’t do from a synced folder on your hard drive. For offline access, OneDrive for Business syncs a document library with your computer, smartphone or tablet. However, we recommend using the browser as much as possible to avoid problems with unintentionally created copies.