Collaboration can be chaotic. With thousands of files, hundreds of collaborators and millions of emails and messages, it’s easy for team efforts to quickly become disorganized. It’s also easy to forget that collaboration isn’t really about files or emails, it’s about people. And what happens when people are working together on a large initiative across a company? You end up managing multiple groups of people; small groups, large departmental groups, dynamic working groups, external groups. The list goes on. Collaboration across different groups is often very challenging when you think about the conflicting work styles, time zones and priorities, to name a few.
That’s where Dropbox Team Folders come in. With this feature, Dropbox enables collaboration on a massive scale and keeps team projects organized and efficient for both your admins and end users.
At Tervela, we help companies move away from systems that inhibit large scale collaboration to platforms like Dropbox which has collaboration as part of its DNA. Cloud FastPath is designed to convert your existing environment to Dropbox so your content is ready for collaboration as soon as your team is. The simulate feature both profiles and analyzes data so you can thoroughly plan and create policy-based migrations at the outset. Additionally, the flexible user and group permission mapping feature automatically extracts the current file permission structure from the source and then maps these to the Dropbox Team Folders. The end result? Everything looks and feels the same to the user before, during and after the migration so workflows remain intact and ready for the next level of collaboration.
Having moved hundreds of thousands of users and their 100’s of terabytes of content into cloud file platforms, we feel that the most significant benefits of Team Folders are:
- Team Folders allow admins to better delegate management and monitoring. Admins can centrally control and gain insight into how files are accessed and shared across an organization and within groups rather than only on an individual user basis.
- They give users a central hub to work together rather than have one user be the “content owner”. This turns Dropbox into a virtual office where users around the globe have access to theoretically unlimited amounts of files to collaborate on.
- Allow users and managers to put themselves in a place of greater self-help. Dropbox Team Folders give admins the option to let users create and control groups within Team Folders. Giving users this option allows them to organically create collaborative networks on their own while admins can oversee and adjust if needed.
And of course, Team Folders are backed by Dropbox’s “best in class” performance and easy to use interface. Following is a brief overview of how Team Folders work, using screen shots as a visual guide:
Options when creating a new group (as an admin):
Creating a new Team Folder:
Adding users to groups:
Giving groups access to Team Folders:
Automatic email and desktop alerts when a user is added to a Team Folder:
Powerful top-down activity monitoring:
In short, migrating to Dropbox’s Team Folders offers an invaluable opportunity for businesses to evolve to a collaboration-first model. Ensuring that users and files are mapped correctly from the source to the target, before any content is moved, is imperative to maximizing the benefits of Team Folders. During a migration, it is also critical that the correct policies accompany the applicable groups and directories so team members have the right access to the right content once Team Folders are employed, allowing them to drive their projects forward with the utmost efficiency.
Adding team folders to an existing Dropbox deployment
If you’ve already implemented Dropbox and want to start using Team Folders, there are two immediate steps you can take. The first is to create Team Folders for the basic collaborative efforts already taking place. For example, create a Team Folder for each department or create Team Folders for major projects where multiple users and groups are working together. The second is to run a “sharing report.”
This report provides a snapshot of the content being shared. Sometimes it will be quite clear: pockets of users frequently share documents and information with other pockets of users. In that case, they might be better served by a Team Folder. Another option is to speak with your users and initiate a formal process for requesting a Team Folder and corresponding group if needed.
Preparing for Team Folders during a migration
If you’re planning to move your content to Dropbox, the migration can have a significant impact on how Team Folders will be leveraged. Migrating from another cloud file platform can be a simple matter if you use the right solution to map the directory structure, groups, permissions and sharing attributes directly from your existing platform to your new Dropbox Team Folder.
Migrating from an on-premises file server environment, where groups behave more like security groups than collaboration groups, is a bit trickier. To take full advantage of Team Folders, it is important to identify clusters of users who share content and collaborate. This is where Cloud FastPath’s pre-migration analytics tools can help you easily identify collaborative teams and shared content and map them to the appropriate Team Folders with pre-defined migration jobs. And of course, permissions, ownership, sharing and metadata are automatically mapped from the source system into Dropbox Team Folders:
Check out Cloud FastPath in Dropbox’s Partner Directory
Once the content is identified, mapped and migrated comes what may be the most important piece of adopting Team Folders – user training and communication. Plan a series of recurring training sessions so all users can see the many ways in which they can easily work in a more collaborative environment with the new tools now available to them. Identify specific users that you think will adopt Team Folders quickly and successfully and encourage them to share their success stories to incentivize others to evolve the way they work. Team Folders specifically, along with the widespread adoption of Dropbox itself, will greatly simplify management, monitoring and reporting for admins. But in the end, it’s your users that will drive your company’s collaboration to the next level. So keep them in mind and well informed as you bring Team Folders to your organization.
Watch for our upcoming blog on Smart Sync