In my department, call it dep. A, we have a policy of keeping everything that might be important on the company server. For a while now, we have dep. B in the company - at start only new hires - who have very different culture. While you may find information for a project on the server, it's more likely you have to ask to get it sent. Since we often work together, this creates a minor lag sometimes. For me it's also an integral part of work to be able to find all the information I need when I take a projct over from a colluege, and likewise to make sure everything I do is findable.

I'm thinking about approaching the dept. B folks about this. Not because I want to enforce any company policy (that's managements job, which I'm not). But when we work together on a project, the deadline looms and the intransparency cerates an actual or perceived lag, I get angry. I don't want to be angry at work so I'll maybe talk to the dept. B folks in a calm moment, maybe we find a way to work better together.

But before I decide if and how I do this I want to understand possible reasons for not working on the server. Some reasons I can exclude:

  • sensitive business information - doesnt cover the stuff I need and miss on the server
  • bad access to the server - dept B. work allmost exclusivly in the office, same fast access as us

I assume it's mostly a simply 'cultural' thing, but there may be reasons I'm missing. Which might those be?

Additional information: My boss knows how they work, we are not huge teams (handful people in total).


The OP is not asking how to force the other team to put stuff on the server. He is asking why they would NOT put everything needed for sharing on the server.

I can give a couple possible reasons for a team NOT sharing everything, other than the ones you ruled out:

  • Once something is "on the server", it might be considered "done and ready" when it is still a work in progress. In some orgs, sharing a deliverable signals completion and there are strong negative consequences if that is not the case. The team might feel that holding off until something is asked for is safer than putting it there right away. If there is a cultural component here, that might be how it gets manifested-- these could be folks who came from such an environment.

  • Perhaps they don't understand what structure the deliverables need to be put into? Are we talking about a file share? If so, how do they know how to organize it? Or is the server something like an over-complicated sharepoint or oracle-erp job where it is hard to figure out how to add things, make changes and go through the workflow? In other words, is it truly easy and clear where and how to place the deliverables? If there is friction people just won't bother.

  • Their management might not be giving clear indication of where to keep things or perhaps the workflow might be optimized for their benefit and not yours.

Whatever the case, I don't think it is necessary to strictly "go through management" to resolve this issue. You would do best to find out what the issue actually is without appearing judgmental. It won't hurt to see their side of the problem and then decide how to react. Getting angry about this could be counterproductive.

  • 1
    Good points and a reason to get a document management system. – user8365 Feb 2 '15 at 14:50
  • @JeffO, yes I agree-- although sometimes the document management system itself is the problem! – teego1967 Feb 2 '15 at 14:55
  • +1 for actually understanding my question. FWIW, 1 and 3 seem likely candidates. – mart Feb 2 '15 at 20:05

If you are not the boss of department A, then you should not be addressing department B to fix this without clearing it with your boss first.

That's one of the reasons departments have managers - if you are experiencing issues with another department, you should take them to your department head who should then take those issues up with the other department head and hopefully resolve them. If things don't improve, you boss should get his boss involved. This is how corporate hierarchies function.

  • Doesnt answer the question. To decide if I raise the issue with my boss, I still need to have a clearer picture of why they work the way they do. – mart Feb 2 '15 at 7:00
  • @mart: What if your boss had that clearer picture? – Makoto Feb 2 '15 at 7:03
  • What if he doesnt? I don't want to cause an escalation. – mart Feb 2 '15 at 7:06
  • If someone keeps asking you for a file that is not on the network where it is suppose to be, they are addressing the problem with you. – user8365 Feb 2 '15 at 13:58
  • In order to know why they aren't using the fileserver, you would have to ask them - we could sit and conjecture all sorts of possible reasons, but without opening a dialogue between your departments, you won't know the actual reason, and you won't be able to resolve the issue. And who says your boss doesn't already know the reason? – HorusKol Feb 2 '15 at 22:27

For all practical purposes, haven't you been "approaching" dept. B all along? Maybe I'm lazy, but if I can prevent someone from disrupting me by placing files in a shared location, I would start doing it.

They may just be in the habit of keeping the files local or if they use laptops, the may need to take them with them when they are no longer connected to the network. There are plenty of technologies you could suggest to automatically synchronize the files. Ask management for it so your group can use it. Everyone will see how easy it is and want to use it as well.

Also, they may just be using default save settings (My Documents) for many of their apps. There may be ways to set it to the network.

Sometimes you have to solve the problem instead of hoping everyone will automatically follow the policies.


First read @HorusKol's response a couple of times. What he/she states is very important, particularly about seeking proper channels to communicate to other groups.

One thing you can do, both to solve the problem and at the same time demonstrate initiative, is to volunteer to be the team's "librarian" for collaborative projects between departments to your manager. That role would ostensibly allow you to reach out to the other team to solicit their materials directly and bypass the normal chain of command without violating protocol.

  • @whoever-downvoted. Why the down-vote? If the reason is, as someone suggested, that the OP wanted to know why a group didn't do this or that, there is NO way any answer would be anything other than blind speculation. Questions like this strongly imply that the OP is seeking a solution to the problem raised by question. I've experienced the situation that the OP faces and what I posted did work, even with some very fragile managerial egos in play. – Jim M Feb 3 '15 at 17:50

At the moment, to get access to files, you must email someone. The interface between your team is therefore an explicit, conscious transaction: It's clear to all parties what you ask and when, what's delivered and when.

If you're asking another team to put their files on a server you can access, you're asking to change that interface to a continuous one. At any time, you will presumably expect the files on that server to be up-to-date. They don't have an opportunity to add caveats to the information, to check whether it's correct and complete before they send it and they don't know when you last took a copy. You presumably don't get notified when the file is updated.

So although there are time costs associated with the 'handover' transaction, simply asking to delve into their working documents is implicitly quite a big demand with a lot of risk for the organisation if accuracy is important. The only circumstance where this sounds like a good idea is if a) those are long-term documents like policies which are reviewed maybe annually, or archived documents which have all been through a process and won't change from now on, or b) you have some other reason to believe those documents are already always kept up-to-date daily in a clear, defined format.

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