Why Should I Use File Sharing in Project Management Software?
File sharing is the public or private sharing of computer data, digital media, documents, and other electronic files from one person or computer to another. File sharing simply means that multiple people or computers and mobile devices can access the same file simultaneously.
The type of access may include the ability to read or view the file, edit or modify it, copy it, or print it. File sharing is typically controlled through various levels of security. For instance, you can dictate who a file can be shared with as well as whether that recipient can only view the file or also edit it.
File sharing can be done using several methods. The most common techniques for file storage, sharing, and transmission include:
- Removable storage devices such as USB drives
- Centralized file sharing server installations on networks, such as a shared hard drive on your company server
- Web-oriented hyperlinked documents through SharePoint sites or websites
- Distributed peer-to-peer networks, such as Dropbox or cloud-based project management software
Project management software with file sharing functionality enables you to share project files with internal and external stakeholders as needed, directly within your project system.
The importance of sharing project files
One of the biggest factors contributing to any project's success is whether the team members and stakeholders can collaborate and communicate successfully.
Here’s an example that might sound familiar:
There’s a new ad campaign project underway, and the business analyst on the project has been tasked with capturing all the design requirements. They had a few information-gathering sessions, compiled their findings, and sent out the document for review and approval.
One month down the road, when you’re trying to get final approval on the ad mockup, one of your key stakeholders tells you that a critical requirement was left out. It turns out that the stakeholder in question was not included in the requirements review and none of the files were shared with them.
By neglecting to share essential files with one important stakeholder, a month of work was thrown out the window, and a massive redesign was necessary.
Hopefully, this all-too-common scenario helps to highlight the importance of sharing project files.
Anything that can impact the outcome of the project should be shared with all key stakeholders. This means not only the project reports and status updates but also design reviews, technical mock-ups, prototypes, media, and any other deliverables.
Sharing files and documents among team members boosts collaboration and is shown to lead to:
- Better ideas
- Faster progress
- A more well-rounded team
- Greater job satisfaction
- Greater employee retention
Benefits of file sharing within your software
While files can easily be shared outside of your project management software, such as through email or paper copies, sharing files within your system offers a number of benefits.
1. Greater security
You have more control over who can read, edit, and print project files when the documents and media are maintained within the system. If you’re uploading files to a third-party platform for sharing, you can’t be sure that the platform has suitable controls and safety measures.
For instance, within your project management software, you can dictate that files are only shared with certain people. If you use another cloud file sharing service, you may not be able to prevent people from forwarding documents to additional people who don’t have the appropriate security clearance.
Plus, many project management platforms offer virus scanning when you download files from them, whereas other platforms may not.
2. Centralized data
It’s vital to maintain a centralized knowledge center and have one reliable source of truth on your project. When files are shared through other means, such as email, it’s easy to lose track of which version is correct, who has the most recent version, and the history of edits, changes, and approvals. But when files are shared directly from your project software, it automatically maintains a record of changes and ensures that stakeholders never have to question which version is correct.
3. Reduces costs
When you can store, track, and share files through your project management software, you don’t have to invest in another file-sharing solution. Plus, if you’re using cloud-based software, the files are stored and shared over the internet, thereby freeing up your hard drives and servers.
Because files are shared directly through an internet connection, there’s no need to purchase and maintain expensive equipment and extra storage space, which would otherwise be used to share files.
4. Saves time
When file sharing remains within your project management system, you can easily attach them to the specific tasks they relate to. This provides more information about what’s being shared and why, compared to an email or message that simply states, “Please review.”
This, in turn, saves the receiver a lot of time figuring out why something has just been shared with them. When you’re fully focused on a task, it’s essential to have all the relevant documentation at hand so you don’t have to spend time searching unnecessarily.
Due to the version and history controls within your software, it’s quick and easy to find the latest copy of a file and to understand the changes that were made. No more pouring through your email folders trying to track down the history of edits and revisions.
Not only that, but files can be shared from your project management software with a few simple clicks — much faster than scanning and emailing files or sending paper copies.
5. Greater accessibility
How many times have you had to ask someone to email you a file you needed? Imagine what happens if the only person with a copy of the file suddenly gets sick, goes on vacation, or quits. Your entire project can be held up while you’re waiting for a critical piece of information.
But when every file is stored within your software, everyone with the proper security rights can access it with the click of a button — no more waiting on someone else to dig it up for you. Plus, you can access files from anywhere as long as you can access the internet or your software’s mobile app.
6. Ability to handle larger files
File size limitations can prevent employees from sending large files through email. Without another file sharing option, they’re forced to either create an FTP server, split or compress the files, or physically deliver them. All of these options are time-consuming and potentially costly.
If your business involves a lot of large file types such as videos, 3D models, photos, or software code, then you can easily exceed your email file limitations on a regular basis. Even if the files get through, they can rapidly eat up the receiver's email storage space, forcing them to frequently archive or delete files.
File sharing through your project management software eliminates these problems by removing file size limitations.