The effects of unstructured file servers on the costs and efficiency of companies.
Basically, the following questions are dealt with:
- What are chaotic states on the file server,
- how to analyze them
- and how can you get such conditions under control again?
Other topics include the added value of structured data storage and how it can help save costs in the future. It is necessary to identify the file server as a cost driver, to analyze it and to show possible solutions how to get the problem under control with the support of the affected departments and users.
In general, however, it should be said in advance that here it is very clear that data that is stored in CRM systems or other database applications, i.e. that can be easily structured, evaluated and analyzed with meta-information, and unstructured data, can be differentiated. This is about unique items, documents that may only be available once more in different nuances and that are difficult or even impossible to standardize.
When migRaven GmbH collaborates with a wide variety of companies, the same problems arise again and again across all industries. The data structures that have grown over the years develop into a not inconsiderable cost factor over time. The data structure cannot be viewed independently of the processes in the company that affect it. Hence there is also the one optimal data structure is not, but it must always be developed individually and specifically in cooperation with the specialist departments in the customer environment. However, this cannot be solved exclusively with and by the IT department, as it is only responsible for making the hardware environment available, while the departments and departments that work with the system on a daily basis are also those who are responsible for their area should wear. Because they know exactly the requirements and processes with and on which they are working, of course.
Cost, efficiency and security
The amount of data per user is subject to a continuous growth of approx. 30% per year. These figures, which come from the trade press, also match the experience of the employees at migRaven GmbH. When measuring the amount of documents in customer projects three to four years ago, the amount of documents was still between 5.000 and 10.000 documents per user. The current status of the projects in 2021 is 20.000 to 40.000 documents per user. As a prognosis, 40.000 to 80.000 documents per user can be easily predicted.
Of course, this directly affects the IT department in terms of storage space, backup and data transfer costs. What is more interesting, however, is the effect of this amount of data on the efficiency of the individual employees and thus the specialist departments. And the fact that the associated problems will continue to increase with the increasing volume of data if countermeasures are not successfully taken.
The problem can be represented very well in the 3D analysis, the axes represent the file quantities in relation to the age and the directory depth. This representation from a current customer project shows that even the data from the last 30 days (first column) is already relative far below within the data structure, here between the 6th and 8th level. Experience has shown that a naturally grown data structure always has the effect that the data moves further and further down in the data structure over time. Without an alternative concept for archiving or storing data, the standard solution always means letting the directory structure become deeper and deeper. And with that, the directories become increasingly confusing to the same extent. And this is exactly what makes the problem even worse.
Keyword “intentional forgetting” as an exit strategy
Contrary to this standard procedure, the approach of migRaven GmbH is to integrate a kind of additional diagonal into the structure. This means that new documents are placed as high up in the directory structure as possible and the path to the file is kept very short. Similar to the one-click shopping button in Amazon's online trading system. The faster the user reaches his goal, the shorter the path to file access, the faster the individual employee can work effectively with this document. The probability is relatively high that a document is irrelevant to the employee's daily work, the older the document itself is. So it is ensured that irrelevant and obsolete slowly move down in the history of the directory. The probability that a document stored in the directory will be needed and used again over a longer period of time is somewhere between one and two percent. Another important point is that the technology from migRaven not only creates order and structure, but also a lot more transparency in a file server system.
"User do not want to delete"
A common misconception among administrators is that users don't want to delete, but the opposite is true. It's just a matter of taking a psychological approach. If the IT department approaches the department and asks them to clean up their file server because of the storage and backup costs, they will encounter relatively little understanding.
But if you ask the departments whether they can still work sensibly with the directory structures, you can immediately see a very high level of willingness and even a certain level of suffering. The problem of a wildly proliferating file structure is well known and aware, the only thing missing is the right tools and a strategy to bring in a certain degree of transparency and to be able to cope with such a task. You have to be able to base your decisions on a sound basis of information, then the fear of unwanted mistakes, e.g. accidentally deleting exactly the wrong document, and that is something that the file explorer alone cannot do.
Whoever waits loses
However, the decline in the company's effectiveness is not the only problem. As already mentioned, the 30% growth in data volumes also has an extremely measurable and representable effect on IT costs, ie administration, backup and storage space. But the unchecked increase in data also has negative effects on data security. Unfortunately, many companies only take action when the damage has already occurred; preventive means for restructuring data storage are rarely planned. The cost of restoring lost data in a disordered structure is immense. The earlier you start with the restructuring of corporate directories as a preventive measure, the cheaper a corresponding project is. The larger the amount of data, the more time-consuming a corresponding audit becomes to clean up and evaluate the structures and to check the file authorizations.
Monetary effects of unstructured data storage
30 days annual loss of working hours * 8h * 30 € * 200 employees = 1.500.000 €
Imputed loss per year for 200 employees due to 30 days loss of working time due to inefficient work with the file system according to the University of Bamberg / Fraunhofer Institute.
According to studies by the University of Bamberg, with which migRaven GmbH works, the user spends an average of 60 minutes, i.e. on average between 45 and 90 minutes per employee per day, searching for the correct file version, correcting it and the one that may be directly associated with it Consequential failure. If you extrapolate that, that's 20 to 30 working days per year per employee, i.e. a complete working month. Extrapolated with a cautious imputed (in many areas actually even higher) hourly rate of € 30, this results in an imputed loss of € 200 for 1.500.000 employees.
These are the costs that, in addition to the easily verifiable costs of data storage in IT, are usually not recorded with such clarity. The potential for cost savings is just as impressive:
Potential Buyers / Aggregators
5 min / day optimization = 125.000 €
Imputed savings per year with 200 employees with 5 minutes less wasted working time per day.
Even with only 5 minutes of optimization per day, ie if instead of 60 minutes "only" 55 minutes per day are wasted on the file search, the work processes are optimized by 5 minutes, this results in an imputed profit of 200 per year for this fictitious 125.000-man company , - € per year. That is an even more exciting aspect when you extrapolate that to 1000 employees.
How do you approach the problem?
- exit strategy
The data must be removed from the work environment in a secure manner. This is done through the combination of automatically cleaning up or emptying the structures at the same time and thus saving storage costs, while data that has exceeded a precisely defined date is separated or migrated to a second space and linked together at certain strategic points. We know that the user has already accumulated 20.000 documents, he will not sort out individual documents. That is why you choose the reverse procedure with a rather general sorting out in order to then get the user to decide in a simple way, in the cherry picking procedure, which files he still needs and where to get them back can without asking the IT department for advice and assistance. In this way, the directory structure is cleaned up at the same time and directories that are empty are simply deleted in the productive structure at the end.
- Self service
Handing over responsibility to the department is the absolute standard today. The departments are enabled to decide for themselves how the structures should be based on solid data and information. How process flows are optimally mapped and how the file authorizations are to be distributed. An essential aspect is to involve the employees from the department in a very, very simple way and to enable them to maintain the directory structures without having completed a degree in computer science.
- Flat structures
Flat structures minimize dependencies. Access Based Enumeration (ABE), this means that the employee only sees the directories for which he is authorized. For example, the file server has 3000 directories in the first level, but user A sees directories 1, 17 and 26 and user B sees 200, 305 and 306, but never the full set of all files. Flat structures offer the optimal solution, so you can flexibly complete projects, end processes and put applications that no longer exist to sleep. Because these are then also hidden in the highest directory level and not somewhere deep down in the directory structure. Dependencies have to be reduced.
In summary, exit strategy ultimately means that just as data flows into the system on the one hand, it also has to leave the system on the other. That means paralleling Separate data in the appropriate structure, do not delete it immediately, and at the same time give the user the autonomy, competence and opportunity for a good decision, as well as responsibility and sovereignty over his data. That is the migRaven system.
Create optimal structures: Six topics that are worth developing separately
According to the organizational chart
The authorizations on a department directory can be set fully automatically. Everyone from the department or from the relevant area is given appropriate access rights.
It makes sense to organize projects separately in a directory, because there is regular interdisciplinary access via a wide variety of hierarchies, which can be assigned to a process.
for process directories exactly the same applies as for project folders -see projects-
This directory is characterized by a lively exchange and very short runtimes, ideally with automatic deletion.
Application directories should always be flat, parallel and applications should generally be created completely separate from everything else in order to maintain full flexibility.
Here is the characteristic all / many can read, but only a few have write authorization, which can also be easily and automatically created in the user authorizations.
In summary, it remains to be said that the main aim is to break down and remove dependencies within the directory structure. Applications or the dependency of documents on each other represent an increasing problem over time, it is worthwhile to counteract this at an early stage. These are the essential aspects that play a very important role, especially in the planning phase, in order to sensibly set up, accompany and conceptualize a project. In this very individual decision-making process in every company, migRaven GmbH already helps the customer in the planning phase, and with the migRaven product also provides the corresponding analyzes and data in order to be able to specifically address the specific problems and to deliver an opaque black box project with all transparency avoid. The effect is cost savings, a significant improvement in efficiency and, last but not least, happier employees.