I’m not here to vent about lazy labelers, but rather to stress the importance of naming conventions, because they do have an impact on your company. Files which are difficult to find greatly affect productivity, work flow and even the company’s bottom line.
As humans we need order—in the workplace especially. Organization not only means a clean physical desktop, but also a tailored virtual space—one in which is shared by multiple users. Get ready to efficiently manage your electronic records.
It’s all in the name!
Granted a file is not a newborn baby, but you better choose a name that fits. The more specific the better—just by simply including the date can help with titling folders. But be aware of the importance of making sure everyone companywide is consistent with how they date documents. For instance: YYYY_MM_DD, MM_DD_YYYY and MMDDYYYY all read differently. So stress to employees how vital it is to have a coherent way of displaying dates in file names. Another wise idea when titling a document is to optimize for quick searches—display keywords within the title to provide users quick results.
Location, location, location!
Where the file lives should be intuitive; even someone new to the company or project should be able to determine the content of a file that is properly placed. This especially holds true when certain company departments have restricted access to some folders. It’s necessary to place material in the correct locations, so that the appropriate people have visibility.
Less is more!
Practice Feng Shui when organizing your computer files. Don’t let folders become stuffed with unrelated documents. And if you continue to update a document, don’t keep renaming it—like, “Final”, “Final_2”, “VERY_Final” and so on. Make your changes, save the document and delete any previous versions that are no longer valuable. If you feel it’s necessary to keep all versions, make sure your multiple versions are labeled by their draft number. For instance, example_draft01, example_draft02, example_draft03…and so on until you have your final verison: example_FINAL. Again just like with dating a document, inform your staff to save drafts in a consistent manner, so that all files (no matter their version) are easily identifiable and accessible companywide.
Set a schedule to review your system on a weekly basis to insure that files are located in the appropriate folders. You want your coworkers to be able to find material the first place they look. Don’t create riddles with your file names—save your files using descriptive naming conventions. And be cautious of burying important documents with various drafts that don’t need to be archived.
Here’s to order, convenience and productivity!