DropBox as a Small Business Uber Project Center

DropBox is fantastic for personal use, but what about for small businesses?  If used the right way, DropBox can significantly improve the way you execute and complete your projects.

For those that don't know DropBox allows you to sync files across computers in an almost seamless manner. For a long time I've been toying with a framework that small businesses could use in order to fully implement Dropbox as a remote-work solution, while still allowing people in the office to work off of a local server.  Recently, I implemented my idea for a client, and the results have been great.

The Setup

No matter what you do, you are going to have limited space in your Dropbox folder (size is determined by your pricing plan).  That being said, it is highly unlikely that you'd ever want to use Dropbox as a full cloud server solution.  Therefore, rather than using it for main storage, in this case it will act as an “active project” repository.  Once a project is over, it is archived and stored on your server (and hopefully backed up).

This does two things.  First, if Internet connectivity ever goes out in the office, users can still collaborate on the active project via the server.  Things will sync up after re-connection is made.  Second, the entire team becomes more organized in how they use server space.  Rather than creating folders everywhere, they tend to have two main parent folders, “Active Projects” and “Archived Projects.”

Sharing Folders is Key

The beauty of this framework is that you can easily share your projects with those involved who are not a direct employee.  Rather than using Google Docs or another document repository, all files are easy updated, created, and synced between all parties involved.  For example, say I have a new contracted designer come on board for a web design project – I'd just share the design folder with them and they'll immediately have all of the active designs on their desktop.  They don't need to login to a site, they can just begin work.

DropBox small business framework developed by Pro Sulum

End of the Project

All active projects come to an end.  When it does it's easy to archive them.  Instead of logging into a site and downloading all of the documents involved, you simply move the parent folder to your main server area, as aforementioned.  Likewise, if you need to make the project active again, just move it back.

1 Comment

  • Dan Z.

    April 14, 2011

    Hi Dean,

    Nice article. Good explanation of the benefits of Dropbox folder sharing. This is a subject close to our hearts, because we have created a project management app that relies on folder sharing through sync services like Dropbox. I'd really appreciate it if you would take a look at it. Charm, our PM app, takes the folders and files that you are sharing and turns them into projects and tasks. Even the existing ones you have. So, in your example in the article, your "Active Projects" and "Archived Projects" folders could become projects you can manage by indicating the responsible team member, a due date, a detailed description, general status and percent completion. Charm will generate "To-do lists" for each member based on assignments, you can set milestones and even check-in and check-out files through Charm so that you don't get file collisions while sharing through Dropbox.

    Since you already use Dropbox to do projects with your clients, I really think you'll find Charm a nice enhancement to your existing tools. Please let me know what you think. You can sign up for a free trial at http://www.charmproject.com/lp/dsws1 and we're happy to help with any support questions you may have.