We can reduce friction in how we find, share, and collaborate on our files.

Jessica Storry is CEO and Co-founder of Stockpress, the platform built for teams whose work depends on finding and sharing files. Prior to Stockpress, Jessica spent twelve years co-running her design and web development agency, create great things.

Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t find a file you needed to do your job, or not been able to add a team member to a tool you use because of user license costs? If you work with any sort of digital media, I’m guessing that the answer to at least one of these issues is an emphatic yes.

Finding, sharing, and managing files can be difficult when there is more than only you involved. Differences in file naming conventions, folder structures, and distributed teams certainly don’t help!

If you’ve found yourself saying any of the following phrases over the past year, you know exactly what I’m talking about:

  • Which of these files is the most recent version?
  • Is that file in Dropbox/Box/Google Drive or somewhere in our DAM system?
  • I can’t save your link, I’m out of storage!
  • Sorry, I can’t add you, we’re out of user licenses
  • This file is too big to send…

There are even more reasons than those that we can be frustrated with our file-sharing systems. Traditional file management software could certainly be more modern and user-friendly, however, the bigger problem is in our mindset. We need to start thinking about how we can bring people to the files they need (so they can find them on their own) and not always have to request them from you!

For teams whose work depends on finding and sharing files, this ability could be a real differentiator in your day-to-day work. Smoother file management can help reduce duplicative work, enhance collaboration between freelancers, agencies, and partners, and leave more time for actual creative thinking.

This battle is part of a fight against a larger trend in the workforce. Data from Asana suggests that employees spend 58% of their day on menial tasks: work communications, switching between apps, chasing status updates, etc. We’ve only carved out 33% of our time for “skilled” work, and just 9% for strategic work towards major goals.

The less time we spend looking for files, the more we take back for meaningful work. Let’s talk about how we can use tools and work habits to unlock a better future for file collaboration.

Working is so much smoother when it’s easy to find and share files!?

If there’s a type of file-finding or sharing frustration, I’ve felt it. For more than 12 years, I co-ran a digital agency with my three business partners (shout out to Bart, Kamila, and Ian). We built custom software, apps, websites, logos/brands, and collateral that our clients relied on, and kept running into the same file management issues that you’re probably still feeling.

Traditional file management software certainly wasn’t helping. The folder structures would quickly get out of control, no one used the same file-naming conventions and I would find duplicate files all over the place – which one is the right one? Don’t get me started on per-user license fees for our freelancers. We would often bring in particular industry experts based on our client’s needs, and would more often than not have to use multiple platforms before getting everything into our working drive.

We looked at enterprise DAM platforms as an option too but not only did it seem like they would take months to implement and require constant oversight – the costs were way out of reach for us. What do SMBs and mid-market companies do??

Finding, sharing, and collaborating on files should be easier. The whole ecosystem could see some huge benefits.

Here’s what’s possible:

Minimize repetitive work

I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened to me: I don’t know where the latest version of a graphic or document lives, I saved it somewhere weird, I named it something I will never remember, etc. After a few seconds of searching, I decided to just spend the 45 minutes it would take to recreate the file. Tell me you haven’t done this yourself… 😉

I’ve heard it from SO many other creative people. They’re re-doing work because of the sheer volume of stuff they have — and the inability to find the right files quickly.

Some employees report spending two hours per day – or 25% of their week – finding the documents/information they need. Think of how much time and money you could save if you knew you could always find exactly what you needed by typing in a few keywords.

Find what you need, when you need it

The quicker we can find our files, the quicker we can activate our next campaign, partnership, project, etc. It happened just the other day. I was asked to provide some images for a social media campaign for one of our premium features. I typed the features as a keyword into Stockpress and I had multiple options to work with. I added a few filters to my search such as file type and color, and I had what I needed in minutes. When we were working with other tools, I would need to navigate through a (somewhat unorganized ;)) folder structure and hope I could remember which sub-folder it was in…

Configurable features and custom permissions based on need

Our favorite platforms are the ones that allow us to choose the features we want and hide the ones we won’t use. Don’t get me wrong, having lots of features is great. The more we can do with a platform, the more exciting it seems to be. But what if you don’t want to utilize AI tagging? Or you have no need for file status or watermarks. Why not turn them off? Remove the cutter from your experience.

The same goes for your teams experience. If Katie and Jeremy from the sales team don’t need access to design files – they shouldn’t have to see them. If Matt from your external agency shoudnt be able to upload, then turn if off. Being able to configure your workspace – on your own – is the future.

How does our file management software change the way we work?

The way we work is inextricably linked to the software and tools we have at our disposal. So what changes to our tools could spur positive change in the way that we collaborate?

Can we just remove per-user license fees already?

Most file management software operates on a per-seat basis, which really hinders a lot of meaningful collaboration. You can’t work with distributed teams, freelancers, and/or agencies if the files they need are kept at arm’s length.

Choosing to lean away from price-per-seat models will inevitably reduce requests such as Can you send me this? Can you send me that? This way of working disrupts workflows – and can significantly expand the time it takes to get things done. Instead, let’s empower teams to save time by finding what they need on their own – because they don’t have to restrict who can access their workspace because of cost.

Leverage AI to find files faster

Some companies want their employees to adhere to strict tagging procedures every time they upload an asset. While this works in theory, it’s often hard for busy teams to stick to the rules. Tagging only works when it’s done consistently – but it’s such a manual and arduous process.

Hmm, what do we know that can automate repetitive tasks? Artificial intelligence, of course!

We can use AI to aid in the process of finding files that mirror the way we actually think. It sounds crazy (or maybe it used to sound crazy) but the ability to search for a phrase and have your file manager understand what that phrase is, and show you all the relevant material related to it — even if you didn’t get the exact wording or spelling right – now that’s progress.

One single hub for all of your content

There are simply so many tools out there, all being used for various purposes: project management, design, communication, etc. I’d like to see more opportunities for meaningful integrations between these apps – and Stockpress is looking to do just that. With integrations being top-of-mind as we grow, we want to be the hub for all of the content you create – no matter where you create it.

It’s not only about files – it’s about changing how we collaborate.

Solopreneurs, agencies, companies, and departments wouldn’t have businesses (or work!) without files. When we make it easier for people to find and share their files — without breaking the bank — we level the playing field for everyone. Designers, marketers, and operators have more time to focus on the important things, like creative work and growing their businesses.