A file/folder authorisation system that works

Feb 21 2013

Ever worked for a company with people sharing the same file server?  Then you have seen the spagetti-of-files it becomes after a while.

It can’t be regulated through IT department zombies either.  All that happens is that creating a Shared folder for a Project takes 3 days and that is long enough to switch to Dropbox.  Problem is not solved, just moved.

Even if the files were kept nice and tidy in structured folders it still sucks sideways. Because. We have. Authorisation. A company doesn’t have one structure of authorisation for files, it has several; one for every function to be almost exact. One for the brass; boss, second boss, smaller boss etc. Economy needs to work between offices and the controller has his own needs.  Programmers can have a flat structure but don’t forget to shoe horn project leaders in there somewhere. All unaware of how the company’s organisational chart looks.

That was the problem; files and folders that exist but their raison d’être is forgotten.  Also a problem is the rights to said files and folders.


Keeping files in hierarchical folders is not the best solution but keep that for now.

Create a good graphical UI for seeing and manipulating rights to the folders.  Use the directory service as usual but keep the OUs orthogonal to the organisational topology.  Like so: have one tree for boss, second boss, third boss und so weiter.  Have another for economy where controllers need access to some information and mechanical turks to another.  Developers can typically have a flat structure but project leaders need to get shoe horned in.  You get it… every different functionality need their own structure and Do Not let the organisation’s economical structure of offices and group interfere.

This is possible today but there is not Good tool for it.

Keep a tab on the rights and files and folders.  When they haven’t changed or even been read for a while they are probably stale.  When they have been stale for a while, contact the owner (the one that created the folder for instance) or the ones that last used the folder/file or simply move them to a folder “AreTheseOld”.

Now back to the folder spaghetti I started with.

Ditch folders.  Adopt tags.

Check out gmail, it has tags and no folders so the same email can have several tags associated to it.  Looking for an email from your mother about your car? Either look in “mother” or in “family” or “rust bucket”, it doesn’t matter.
Apply the same thinking to files.  Every file is associated with tags so it can go in two projects at once.  Even two projects, economy department Z and customer A.

The above won’t solve the problem with people creating new files instead of updating existing so one after a while has six nearly identical files where all have their own version of last draft.  But that is another story…

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