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How we decide between Confluence, SharePoint and network drive storage

Of all the knowledge we have, how we decide what best goes into Confluence, SharePoint or our shared network drives?

1 answer

3 votes
nic Community Leader Jul 08, 2015

It's a business decision really.

For stuff that does not need to be tracked in any way, and you don't care if multiple people could make a mess of it with no history and little in the way of access control or search facilities, you can use network storage (basically, don't.  Network storage gives you the ability to share files, and nothing else.  It's fine for "here's a quick file we need to exchange", but for any form of documentation you want to actually use, it gives you nothing)

For discrete document objects, use sharepoint.  It's good at handling documents created by word, excel etc, gives you full tracking and search across them and, in theory, allows you to share them far better than network storage.  (I say "in theory" because in most places that use sharepoint, you'd be surprised at just how much it doesn't get used - I've heard phrases like "does not share-point", "sharepointlessly" and my favourite, "where documents go to die".  I recently had accces to a vast sharepoint document repository and we did some usage analysis.  We discovered that although the business really needed most of the stuff in it, it was actively used by about 1% of the user base.  "I've put it in sharepoint" was the end result of a lot of documentation effort, and it's disheartening to hear the next month that no-one has read your work.  But, your users may be better than that)

Confluence is for stuff you don't need to keep as pure document objects.  Pages are immediately available to end-users (no messing around trying to download/edit things) and editable in-situ.  The latest version is always what you see and you can rely on it being up-to-date (or if it's not been edited for a while, you know there are no "later versions" floating around on people's disks)

Personally, I use Confluence for everything.  When I need those discrete docs as files, I export them, and send the exported objects around (noting that they are obsolete because Confluence may be updated seconds after the export)

Davin Studer Community Leader Jul 09, 2015

One of the problems we have had with regard to keeping stuff in the Confluence vs a file share is that when you have MS Office documents on a file share Office will lock the document if someone is editing it, but Confluence by default will let multiple people open the same document at the same time and overwrite each other's changes. So, currently we have been steering people toward file shares for documents that multiple people edit. However, we are evaluating the Arsenale Lockpoint add-on an I think we might go with it as it will give us the ability to lock the document in Confluence and get all the versioning and whatnot that Confluence provides. FYI, I don't work for Arsenale and I'm not affiliated with them.

nic Community Leader Jul 09, 2015

Good point, I was thinking that you'd use Confluence to replace document objects, as that's by far the best way to use it. Network Share and Sharepoint handle document objects, but Confluence handles pages, and it's not intended to be a document management system (it's not a lot better than a file share for that - you get versions, that's about it). So I didn't say anything about its attachment system. If you're not moving your data into proper pages and sticking with document objects, then I'd tend not to recommend Confluence at all, but if you ignore that, Arsenale is a very good choice (And I'm not with them either)

"where documents go to die" that is priceless.... I think It worth using into a t shirt :p

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