Workspaces vs. Cabinet Folders


NetDocuments provides two ways to organize documents in a cabinet: Workspaces and Cabinet Folders. This article will compare and contrast workspaces and cabinet folders. From here, an Administrator can decide which one to use and will be directed to posts regarding each option.  

Workspaces are enabled at the cabinet level. The administrator needs to create and enable at least one custom attribute for the cabinet, then create at least one workspace template. 

If workspaces are enabled, a cabinet may still have cabinet-level folders available, but these are generally not used along side workspaces. Some firms may choose to create a second cabinet that is a folder-based cabinet. 

What is a Workspace?

NetDocuments has the ability to provide shared "workspaces" that are based on a specific table-based profile attribute which, for example, in a law firm, would be a Matter-centric view of documents, emails, etc. Another type of firm/organization might choose to base the workspaces on Accounts, Projects or Properties. In short, a workspace is a web page that shows all items (documents, emails, etc) related to a particular matter, project, or account.

For example, if you are using this as a law firm, the Cabinet Administrator would setup workspaces to be based on a Matter profile attribute. You can then go to a Workspace for any Matter that you choose. The Matter Workspace will provide one view of all of the documents, messages, folders, categories, etc. for that specific Matter which is seen by all users who select that Matter. Any changes made by anyone to a workspace, affects the view of the workspace for all users accessing it. This feature is also referred to as a Matter-centric view or approach to managing your documents.

If you see a menu option (called Go to a matter... in the example below) titled Matters, Customers, Clients, Projects, or Workspaces, etc., then you have the ability to use workspaces in at least one of your cabinets.  


Nature of Cabinet-level Folders

Cabinet-level Folders can be used to organize documents through a hierarchy. Organizations with a larger number of documents may choose to just use the custom profiling and workspaces to organize their documents rather than use cabinet-level folders. Cabinet Folders are stored in a cabinet and can be displayed using the Navigation Pane. Only folders you have access to will be displayed in the Navigation Pane.

A NetDocuments folder functions similarly to the folders you use in Windows Explorer to organize documents on your local PC. However, NetDocuments folders are virtual, meaning documents are not actually "contained" or stored in the folders. Documents actually exist in the cabinet and can be "filed" in a folder.

Typically, the organization will create a set of top-level firm-wide folders where all documents are filed so that all users can easily locate the documents.

If needed, the organization will generally use only a few cabinet-level folders for common firm-wide company documents. The remaining cabinet-level folders are generally personal top-level, non-sharable folders which are created and used for personal organization as opposed to shared folders across the organization. 

These personal folders are generally accessible only by that individual and cannot be shared with others. Subfolders under these personal folders can be shared with small workgroups in the organization. 

If your firm chooses to use folders to organize clients and matters or projects, firm-wide, instead of using workspaces and custom profile values, then you need to ensure that you do not have too many subfolders and/or documents in any given folder to minimize the time it takes to navigate up and down a folder tree.

We would suggest when firm-wide folders are used for clients or projects, that the top-level folders be letters of the alphabet, or a subset of the alphabet and then the client folders would be created as subfolders under the related letter and then a set of subfolders under each client folder for the matters. This will keep the top-level folder from containing too many subfolders and/or documents. If a particular matter within a client folder has too many documents, then you may want to further subdivide the documents by date range for a specific matter. Also if you have a lot of matters or projects under one client folder, you may want to subdivide them in a logical way.