Today I want to talk to you about one issue that one of my clients recently had, which I notice a lot of people are struggling with all the time. I want to share with you the best strategies to remove confusion when saving files. This might seem simple, but it is something really powerful and can help make a big difference in how you and your staff manage the files in your business. Having a strategy for saving your files will allow your staff to follow a single way of properly saving your files, and will allow them to also easily search and identify the correct version of files that they need.
DATE AND FOLDER STRUCTURES
Having the proper logical folder structure is the first thing you should ensure in your file storage system. Take some time to think about your folder structure. Trust me, a few extra seconds spend here can save you a LOT of pain. For example in filing and saving invoices and minutes of our weekly meetings, we usually do this based on dates. For example, a folder with the year 2018 and then sub-folders with 01, 02, 03 etc. If its less regular just use folders called YYYY-MM like 2018-03. If it’s just an annual update just use the year, like 2018 for each sub-folder. It is ALWAYS best to take a moment to think about if you use date either by year, by month or a specific date.
For files you can put a date at the end of your file like YYYY-MM-DD format or if not year is not relevant you can just put YYYY-MM format (no day). When you are using date format you must write your date backwards like YYYY-MM-DD and not DD-MM-YYYY. This ensures when you sort your files by filename the files will appear properly in file order. This is especially useful for files that are exactly named the same.
When the dates that the files are made are not relevant, then you can use versioning instead. Put a version number at the end of every (yes I mean every file) file such as v1, v2, v3 and so forth. I do this for all my files if I’m not using date versioning. If the file versioning results in a final copy, like proof reading an ebook, put “FINAL” on the last complete version. With this you can easily see what is the most current version among all other versions.
ARCHIVE OLD FILES
When you have already a lot of files with dates and versions, and you want to clean your folders, you can create an archive folder. Store the older versions of the files inside the archive folder and retain the final version outside it for visibility.
Once you got your files saved properly, you can go to the next level and go about finding and searching files using the same strategies in place. When you create a policy for how you save a certain file, then it will be heaps easier trying to find your files when you need them. It will also be a lot easier to remember when or where you created certain files inside your file storage system.
These file naming conventions can also be applied when you create task templates in your task management tool. If you’re using the same agreement, process or content over and over again with multiple clients, it is best to make use of dates so it would be easier to refer back on the dates items were delivered or processed.
CREATE STANDARD POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
The last strategy you need to implement is to put all of these rules in your company policy and procedures for document editing standards. By writing them down, you can easily reference these policies to your staff whenever they have questions regarding saving your files and version control. Don’t forget to start enforcing this right at the start when you hire a new staff member, and put it in the employee induction checklist, to make sure that they read and practice the document editing standards and avoid repetitive questions and distractions.
These are some of the strategies that we use all the time. Having these strategies set in place, makes it a lot easier to manage files and empower your staff to follow your best practices and make their tasks easier.
We’re here to help systemise, automate and grow your business. If you find this tip helpful, you may want to check out our other videos, or drop us a message if you have any quick questions about technology, cloud solutions, or systems. Hope you enjoyed the video and looking forward to hearing from you soon.