For more on scaling teams see here.
When a team is small and the team members can keep most of the information they need for day to day business in their heads, a neatly managed document system is nice to have, but you can definitely get by with free and loose as long as people get what they need when they need it.
To scale to a medium or large team, you need to decide how things are done and where documents are held. If you don’t, people produce inconsistent documentation (inefficient and can harm reputation), and people don’t know where to find docs (inefficient and plain frustrating). Additionally, by making these decisions, you set in place important parts of the collaboration workflow which enables people to work together easily. For this last part, there are many advantages to opting for cloud-based documentation by default such as Google Drive or OneDrive.
Document Management model
Advantages of Cloud solutions
- Remote workflow – it’s easier to work directly in a browser than through a networked connection such as VPN.
- Single document collaboration – comments, suggestions and edits can be incorporated on a single shared collaborative document. No more emailing of documents, no more multiple versions, no more collating changes between multiple versions edited by different people on different drafts. And people get to see each other’s comments which is more transparent and enables fuller reflection.
- More chat, less email – when you don’t need to email docs, you can opt to share docs and chat back and forth via a chat platform such as Google chat, Teams or Slack. This saves you from long email chains and enables more informal and quickfire conversations to evolve as you work with others. And if things are sensitive or confidential, then the chat can be private too.
- Functionality of online docs – browser based versions of Word/Docs, Excel/Sheets, Powerpoint/Slides or whatever it is you use are still not as good as their desktop siblings. Sometimes they don’t do what you want or need them to and you have to revert to desktop, or cry, or both.
- Reliance on the internet – unavoidable with reliance on the cloud. Fairly unavoidable in any remote working situation since your VPN connection also won’t work without internet. It’s not really feasible to keep an up-to-date copy of everything on your local computer. Mitigate by investing in good internet connectivity.
- Reliability of the system – issues like storage space, back-up, network speed do arise. This is only a disadvantage if your set up is a bad one and these issues are not dealt with. Mitigate by investing well and maintaining your set up, you would have to do this for a non-cloud solution too.
- If you don’t like change, you won’t like adapting to new ways of working – I can’t help you here.
I think the advantages of a well thought through cloud-based document management workflow vastly outweigh the disadvantages (most of which are simply bad management). I’m biased on this but all I can say on it is that done right, it works very well and you can just get on with it and not worry about filing.