Document and knowledge management for a very small business

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Hello all!

I have been tasked by a small environmental consulting firm with investigating document management options. The firm currently consists of five people, including the CEO. They are using Dropbox for all business process management, including administration, business operations, contracts, marketing, and active projects (where the majority of the collaboration occurs).

There is much irritation concerning Dropbox, primarily the local syncing. There have been a number of collaborative ‘collisions’, with content being written and overwritten by team members on deadline because local folders are still in sync mode. There are also issues with renaming folders and resulting conflicts. The CEO is overly busy and impatient, so she is not spending any time understanding how Dropbox operates until it’s too late. I’m a relative newcomer, so I’ve done my own ‘learning by burning’ on a folder system set up by the CEO and her admin. Finally, the staff take a great deal of photos in the field, so there is a ton of imagery residing within project folders, curated only by automatic metadata (filename, date, format, file size). Imagery is uploaded from tablet devices using the UploadCam app. Too many photos being uploaded also makes Dropbox unstable, not great for anyone else trying to files.

The firm recently switched its email hosting from the company that hosts its website to Office 365. The CEO is paying for the full business platform per user (at $12.50/month), but currently only using email. I have approval to create a SharePoint proof-of-concept for document management. Unfortunately, most of the staff has a very dim view of SharePoint, so this may only serve to give me an opportunity to play with SP 2016 before going on to other employment.

My questions are:

. Do any of you have direct experience working with small firms in taming document management?
. How might you handle active projects involving reports + imagery with or without a dedicated DAM?
. Is SharePoint a viable option? (Especially for those who claim they don’t like it?)
. What are your experiences with Dropbox? It has so many positive reviews, but it’s really not a solution to all of the business processes of even this small team!
Thank you for reading and hopefully responding!

Great question. I have recently started an IT Consulting firm which specializes with small medium size companies implementing DMS and KMS for them. Our average employees with these companies are 5 or less. Lots of people have their negative minds about SharePoint but what they don’t realize is that SharePoint has evolved from what it used to be.
So for me if a company already has Office 365, that’s step 1 in the correct direction, now we have to focus on the solution. I believe that SharePoint can provide a powerful platform for them both as a DMS and as KMS platform. Many companies have done just what you explained, they have implemented Office 365 but nothing else and my job mostly is coming in and making them realize that Office and Email was just a tip of an iceberg. Once you have SharePoint its amazing what you can do with it with little budget.

One of the challenges people then talk about is being able to share your documents with external parties, again SharePoint can do this very well so I do not see a reason why a company should implement dropbox when they have office 365. My private email is 32337bhuti.mbele@…, drop me a message for more on this topic.



Another option might be Airbase by Hyland. It is hosted in the cloud, stable, easy, flexible and cost effective at $25 per user.

Thank you Bhuti, will send private message!

HI Laura
We are a small consulting business and have been using a cloud based system provided by several vendor which works like your normal file shares. However, within the last two years we have changed over to google drive, which is subscription based service, and have found that the file synchronisation is extremely quick. Not only that the support from google for setting up this service and then working through how to use it with security enabled at the folder level is very good. It can be available to any device and anywhere as long as you have access to the internet.
The only limitation for this as a document management system is the same as if you were using file shares – i.e. a properly defined fileplan which is understood by all and logical to manage.

I hope this helps.


Hi, As you indicated that this is specifically for an engineering company, I would strongly suggest that you look at some of the purpose-built SharePoint add-ons/extensions for engineering document management. One of the nice things about the engineering world is that there are a lot of common/standard processes that almost everyone plays by. This makes it a great candidate for using a purpose-built type of add-on because you can largely “plug-n-play”.

Typically, these add-on solutions follow things like FEED, then baselining, then red-lining and collaborative markup, and so on to as-built and locked final version. Additionally, most of them include functionality that is targeted by discipline such as views and reporting/analysis and so on.

Can you create your own version of this yourself? Possibly yes. Given enough time, and some budget, you can create a cobbled together version to whatever level of sophistication your time and budget will allow. But why do that when you can buy it, put it in, do some config, and start using?

I’m just a consultant and don’t represent any products so this isn’t intended as trying to steer you towards buying my solution ;)).

Hope that helps!


Hi: Here’s a link to a blog post on TechNet related to your question:

Here’s a link to Microsoft’s TechNet Learning Resource on Office365:

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