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22 Aug

Call the file by its right name

Datum: 2012-08-22 12:00

Find­ing dig­i­tal files and doc­u­ments that either we our­selves or our col­leagues have saved at some point is usu­al­ly not a prob­lem – as long as they are saved in the right location.

But some­times the doc­u­ment has van­ished and sim­ply can­not be found. 

It prob­a­bly just end­ed up in the wrong fold­er by mis­take. Per­haps you were just about to save the doc­u­ment as the phone rang and a col­league popped his head through the door to ask you some­thing, all at the same time.

Since it is miss­ing, we will sim­ply have to look for it. The ques­tion is what we are look­ing for; what do we type in the search box?
If you did not cre­ate the doc­u­ment your­self you will have to fig­ure out what the col­league might have named it. 

Sure, you could search for it ran­dom­ly, but it will prob­a­bly take more time to search for than we would prefer. 

Set the standard

Try nam­ing the files in a stan­dard­ized man­ner as often as pos­si­ble. Try to do this at least when nam­ing com­mon types of documents. 

If we strive to use a stan­dard­ized file-name-syn­tax, we will find the doc­u­ment we are look­ing for faster even if we don’t know where it is saved.

If the name of the doc­u­ments con­tain­ing a quote some­times con­tain the client’s name and oth­er times does not, or if the word pro­to­col” when used in the file­name some­times is abbre­vi­at­ed and some­times not, we might need to search for the doc­u­ment we are look­ing for longer than we would like. 

Do this

  1. Start with a com­mon type of doc­u­ment, such as protocols. 
  2. If you man­age to con­vey the ben­e­fits of using a com­mon stan­dard­ized syn­tax to your col­leagues, make this trans­for­ma­tion togeth­er. If not, just start doing it your­self. If you take the first step, it will then be eas­i­er to con­vince your col­leagues of the advan­tages of the method. 
  3. Deter­mine what the struc­ture of the name for this par­tic­u­lar type of doc­u­ment should be.
    You can con­struct your name-struc­ture by using for instance: 
    • The type of doc­u­ment (out­line, pro­to­col, proof-read mate­r­i­al, sug­ges­tion, spread­sheet, quote, deal et c)
    • Depart­ment
    • Order-num­ber
    • Project-num­ber
    • Cus­tomer ID
    • Employ­ee number
    • Date of the meeting
    • Date of the lat­est version
    • Num­ber of the most recent version 
  4. Now name new files of this type accord­ing to the for­mat you have decid­ed to use. 

    Per­haps you also feel tempt­ed to rename the old files so that they match the new for­mat as well, but this might be more dif­fi­cult than you would pre­sume it to be.

    If there are links and short­cuts to these files any­where, they will no longer be valid, and before you know it, your attempt to become more struc­tured by renam­ing files will turn into a point of dis­cus­sion in the next department-meeting.

  5. Once you have estab­lished the new habit and feel com­fort­able in your new way of work­ing, choose anoth­er type of doc­u­ment for which you set a file-name standard.
  6. Con­tin­ue doing this for all pos­si­ble doc­u­ment types. 

Those who seek shall find (faster)

If you can agree on a com­mon way to nam­ing the files you share with each oth­er, you will need to spend less time look­ing for them.

You will make the mis­take of edit­ing and adding to an old and out­dat­ed doc­u­ment to a less­er extent, since the name of the doc­u­ments now indi­cate what ver­sion of the doc­u­ment is which. 

What is your way?

How have you orga­nized your com­mon sys­tem and files so that you will find com­mon files faster in your com­pa­ny? Write a com­ment and let all Done!’s read­ers know.