MBA Student File-Sharing Tools Revisited

MBA students working together with one or more classmates in order to complete an assignment is a norm in most MBA programs. Working together successfully often depends on how well the group shares information. This usually means sharing a document or file of some kind, such as an MS Word document, PowerPoint presentation, PDF file, picture, graphic, or a spreadsheet. While MBA students working together may be the norm for most MBA programs, providing students effective and efficient ways of sharing documents is not. The answer for most MBA programs is to let students find their own solution, which usually means using email and file attachments. Much better solutions are available, many of which are consumer-focused, user friendly, and free.

Two years ago this month, I wrote an article titled, “Dropbox – File Sharing Made Easy & Free for MBA Students.” While I have been using Dropbox for more than two years, an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal this month rekindled my interest in file-sharing applications. Walt Mossberg’s article, “Many Devices, Many Files and Four Ways to Share Them” and the many comments to the online version of the article added to my awareness of file-sharing applications and the options that are available today for MBA students.

Why revisit the topic of file sharing for MBA students? Three reasons come to mind:

1. MBA students are transient users of the technology provided by their MBA programs; and as such, there is a learning curve associated with the new application. Alternative applications may have less significant learning curves.

2. Given the amount of collaboration required in most MBA programs, there is a need for simple and easy file sharing. These applications, provided by many MBA programs, when adopted are usually for the use of the entire campus. Most users would not describe these large-scale applications as simple and easy to use.

3. Advances in consumer-focused, file sharing applications and the added number of applications provide useful alternatives for MBA students. Consumer-focused applications provide the MBA student with tools that are useful beyond the classroom and their MBA programs.

From my experience, what are the features of file sharing applications that are of importance to MBA students?

  • Version tracking – A major challenge when working on an MBA team project is version control. There is nothing more frustrating to team members than to find they have spent hours working on a document—only to learn they worked on the wrong version of the document.
  • Document restoration – An MBA team member can corrupt a file or save the wrong file with the same name, an action which overwrites the latest version of the document. Document restoration capabilities lesson the damage.
  • File access via web browser or mobile app – MBA students are mobile and often need access to a file while traveling.
  • Operating systems offer mobile support – MBA students come to their MBA program with their own technology and operating systems. File sharing should support Windows, Mac and Apple, and Android-powered mobile devices.
  • Automatic synchronization – Often, there is a lag between the time an MBA team member finishes working on a document and when he or she manually shares the document with the rest of the team. Automatic synchronization eliminates the lag when saved files are in a shared folder.
  • Free storage – Adoption costs are not an issue when the application and service is free.
  • Events Tracking – Associating date, time, and user name with each file activity or folder event can make MBA team members more accountable. The actions associated with a file become transparent to each team member.

While consumer-focused, file sharing applications have many other features, which they use to differentiate their product and service in the marketplace, the above list is a minimum standard for MBA team adoption.

The Mossberg article identifies four file-sharing applications: Dropbox, SugarSync, Microsoft SkyDrive, and Google Drive. All four have the features described above. The SugarSync and Microsoft SkyDrive websites provide a comparison chart that allows you to compare the features of all four applications. If you are a newly admitted or currently enrolled MBA student, you and your MBA team members may want to consider using one of these applications. All four options have the potential for helping you to live and work smarter, while you complete your MBA program.

Is file sharing an issue for you? Do you have other applications to recommend? Share your thoughts with other MyeEMBA readers by adding a comment below.


Rodney G. Alsup, D.B.A., CPA, CITP
Founder of

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