Part 2 - The first hurdle, adding all members
For smaller teams, a group will be automatically added to the team folder, always starting with ‘Everyone at [your team name]’. As it sounds, this includes all existing members, and if any new users join your team they will automatically be added to this group without your input.
This is helpful to share the basic info for the company’s employees.
You can also restrict edit access. Click the gear icon, and change ‘Can edit’ to ‘Can view’. Now, all employees can only view and download the files, without ever making any changes to files or folders.
Part 3 - But I don’t want everyone to see everything!
Of course you don’t! That’s where the confusion begins.
If Part 2 doesn’t apply to you, then obviously you don’t want all users on the top level to see all folders.
Since the ‘Everyone at…’ group is the only group that cannot be deleted (given that Dropbox created it and is a special group), don’t add it to the team folder. If it is already added, click the Can edit/view button on the right and then ‘Remove’.
I recommend the team admin have full edit access to the team folder (and not necessarily the CEO of the company), since they can resolve most issues online.
Since team folders only allow groups, and not individual users, you can create a group with just one user, the Team Admin. Giving them edit rights is also applied after the group is created.
If you did create the team folder in Part 2, you can also add this new group to the team folder. Thus only the admin can edit all levels of that structure, whilst everyone else can just view.
Part 4 - Departmentalization (aka creating subfolders)
Depending on the size of your company, this will vary wildly, but I’ll try to summarize it.
If the team folder was for the entire company, the subfolders would be for the various departments in said company. So, you can immediately break up the company into subfolders like ‘Finance’, ‘HR’, ‘Marketing’, ‘Engineering’, and any other folder you deem necessary.
For these folders, you will need groups for (almost) each folder, this time for senior management, such as Head of HR, Engineering, et al.
For smaller teams, users can look after two departments (i.e. Finance and HR Head), so some folders can have the same group.
Grant the groups either edit or view only rights to that folder as you see fit. The same group can even be given different rights to different folders (see the Finance and HR group in my example).
Part 5 - Micromanagement
From the first two ‘layers’ (team folder and then the Department folders), the number of levels you have afterwards depends on your requirements.
For example, for the Finance folder, you can have the following subfolders: Payslips, Actuary, Pensions, Budget, Invoices, Receipts.
Since the head of Finance can already see these folders, now you need to create new groups for other users who need to access them. Accountants, Administration, Invoicing, anything is possible.
These folders will contain regularly updated files, so these groups would need Edit rights to them.
Again, be wary of granting the newest accountant access to payslips if that isn’t their level of access in the company. Perhaps they would be entitled to view a subfolder in payslips where they need to calculate taxation, social security contributions. For this another group would be needed.
You can also place users into more than one group, if they need access to multiple sections. without having access to the ‘parent’ folder.
Part 6 - Don’t give yourself extra work
For all this talk about assigning groups, it does require constant management if there are a lot of users joining, transferred or leaving your Dropbox Business account (or company).
The initial setup should be done by the Team Admin, however if you’re on an Advanced or Enterprise Business plan, the User Management admin can continue this from then on.
There’s also the problem where you create too many groups that it becomes hard to remember which member is in which group. Start with a few groups and only expand if truly necessary.
Start at the top of your structure and begin the group creation. The closer to the team folder itself, the fewer the number of users, and vice-versa. Generally, there are more employees the further down the ladder you go, with larger groups.
Part 7 - Final recommendations
Firstly, remember the main aspects of team folders.
Once you open access to a team or shared folder, you cannot close (or hide) subfolders or files from users
Give a user edit rights to a folder, they cannot then have those rights taken away for subfolders.
Secondly, plan out your entire structure without any users added to the team folder.
Name your folders as you wish them to appear in your colleagues’ Dropbox accounts. Correct any mistakes now, it will cause issues doing it later for all users in your company.
You can name the folders with numbers at the front to force an order (1 - Training, 2 - Engineering, 3 - Accounts Billable, 4 - HR, etc). This can also be done for groups and files.
Once your structure is complete, you can start to copy files into the folders as needed, assuming you already have all the files. If not, you can leave it to the users to populate the folders.
Here’s what the whole structure would look like on a Mac for one specific file:
Here’s the file structure for the Taxes2017 doc as the way the file is nested in the Dropbox system:
Using the same diagram, you can also see the group names associated with each folder:
As you can see, the Admin can see all the way down to the Taxes2017 Excel file, along with the Finance and HR - Head, Accountants, and New Hires groups.
However, Marketing cannot see the file, nor can Administration. Note that Administration CAN see the Social Security folder since they were given access.
This is the whole raison d'être for team folders and groups, gradually adding access to more groups until your entire company can view only what they are permitted to view.
Hopefully this should help you get to grips with using Team Folders!