3 Steps to Take Care of Before Migrating to a Cloud-Based Document Management System

Woman moving a cardboard box in front of a yellow wall.

When you need to have a contract signed by a client or you’re handling internal files like marketing budgets and payroll, transferring files through email isn’t always the best option. Knowing that your company documents are easily accessible yet safe from prying eyes is important, so the best way to share documents online is by using document sharing software.

Sharing files via the cloud offers many benefits but making the switch can be overwhelming at first. Here are three steps to take before migrating your business data to the cloud.

Step 1 – Find a Service

The first step to take once you’ve decided to implement cloud based file sharing for business is to find a provider with features that compliment your business. Not all cloud sharing services are alike and taking time to make sure your chosen service offers everything you need will save you from having to switch services in the future. Consider the following.

Security
When it comes to choosing a document sharing service, security should always be one of the first criterion you check.

A top-performing service’s bag of security tools will include role-based permissions, session timeouts, two-factor authentication, automatic file deletion, and data encryption, for both data in transit and at rest. Investigate past performances of a company to make sure security isn’t a responsibility they struggle with.

Integration
The best cloud sharing software will fully integrate with several other types of software and services your company currently uses.

Switching to a cloud-based document management system can eliminate the need for several of your current services. But because you’ll probably still need to keep a few around, make sure they’re compatible with your document sharing service.

Growth
No business can survive stagnancy. Make sure you choose a service with the capacity to grow with your business.

Basic features
Finally, make sure your provider offers a large variety of basic features that your business can use to boost productivity and develop your brand. These features could include:

  • Drag and drop uploading
  • Internal messaging
  • Full text search
  • White label support

When it comes to choosing a file sharing service, never compromise. There’s a service out there that’s sure to meet your needs. Once you’ve found it, it’s time to move on to the next step in data migration.

Step 2 – Organize and Declutter Your Files

The average company can have nearly 10 million files in their database. While some of that is certainly critical, a significant portion could be duplicate copies, outdated files, or irrelevant material. Moving your data is the perfect opportunity to organize and declutter business files. Here are a few tips.

Remove personal documents
Have all team members (including yourself) remove any personal documents stored within company folders.

Categorize
Employees spend about two hours a week finding, sharing, and storing documents. Taking the time to find a system that works for your entire team can save countless resources.

Hopefully, you already use a filing system. But if it’s time to sophisticate your file storage, brainstorm how to organize by category. There are a few different ways to do this, depending on your business model.

You can organize files by departments, clients, products, or come up with your own method. Make sure to date when necessary (e.g. 2018 Payroll Records) and use subfolders when needed (e.g. Client Project 1, Client Project 2, etc.). Modify your system as you see fit, and don’t be afraid to make changes to an archaic system if they’ll make a positive difference.

Finalize a naming system
One great feature about file sharing services is that you can easily search for documents. But this becomes even easier if every file is named with the same format.

Always use the same date format so files stay in chronological order, avoid special characters, and use underscores instead of spaces for a uniform and simple to search setup.

Discard files when no longer needed
Data migration is a great time to delete files or folders you no longer need. But before you dump your desktop into the recycle bin, remember that the government has a say in how long you need to keep certain documents. For example:

  • Payroll records for nonexempt employees need to be kept for three years.
  • Employment records need to be kept for one year from the employee’s termination date.
  • Business tax returns and supporting documents should be kept for six years.
  • Job applicant information should be kept for three years, even if the applicant wasn’t hired.

Keep in mind that these are federal guidelines. Your state could require you to keep some documents longer. And when it comes to property deeds, meeting minutes, budgets, financial statements, and audit reports, these should be kept indefinitely. Check with your accountant or lawyer to find out what files you should keep.

Step 3 – Plan and Execute

Now that you have a cloud file sharing for business provider and your documents are organized, it’s time to plan the migration from your in-house storage to its new digital home. Follow these steps for a seamless experience.

Build a team
Your document sharing software service will certainly help you as you migrate your files but having a few team members in charge of overseeing the process will help. Have them start with a few test files to learn the process, discover potential pitfalls, and come up with a strategy that’s as efficient as possible.

Schedule your migration
It’s difficult to know exactly how long it will take for a transfer to take place. It depends on the number of files, their sizes, their source, your bandwidth, and several other factors.

It’s always better to estimate a longer migration time than a shorter one and build your schedule around it. Your support team should help you determine how long your transfer will take, and then you can then come up with a schedule for when certain blocks of files will be transferred to ensure nothing is forgotten.

Review your migration
While the majority of data transfers take place without incident, it’s always in the best interest of your business to double check files and folders as they’re moved. Come up with a checks and balances system to prevent files from being overlooked.

Train and adapt
Some team members and clients may feel apprehensive about the data move. You’ll need to train and reassure everyone affected.

But as they gain confidence and understanding, everyone is sure to see the associated benefits with document sharing software

Moving your files to the cloud will allow you to easily access your documents from anywhere with an internet connection. Even though a lot of thought and planning goes into a migration, the results are well worth it.

If you need help planning your data transfer, or have questions about the process, reach out to Onehub for clarity and direction.