File Naming Conventions: How to Optimize Document Management | Process Street


It’s all too widespread to seek out your self wading by your group’s shared folders in quest of the file you’ve been requested to evaluate:

  • Project_proposal_2020_final+edits.doc
  • THIS_is_the_final_proposal_(old-version).PDF

Why does this occur? Why can’t everybody simply use correct file naming conventions? The explanations will be lack of correct inside coverage or process for naming and organizing information, lack of any consideration for folder or info structure, and simply plain carelessness.

With a small quantity of effort, you may set up correct file naming conventions and keep away from this sort of doc spaghetti. The extra organized you will be together with your inside info, the extra environment friendly and efficient you will be in your enterprise targets.

Simply think about – seeing neat, intuitively named folders, understanding which folders comprise the paperwork you’re on the lookout for, and – sit – having confidence that the file you’re about to click on on will likely be what you count on it to be.

On this Course of Avenue article, we’ll cowl:

  • File naming conventions: Finest practices & ideas
  • The Dewey Decimal file naming conference
  • Course of standardization vs course of harmonization
  • How we manage inside processes at Course of Avenue
  • The right way to manage the right course of library
    Let’s go!

    File naming conventions: Finest practices & ideas

    file naming conventions

    This part will take into account some greatest follow conventions for file naming. Whether or not you’re a small group or a big enterprise company, these rules ought to be related, as a result of they’re designed to think about the wants and necessities of every case earlier than administering anyone answer.

    • Set up your info structure
    • Readability: People vs Robots
    • Wikipedia exhibits that being digital can broaden your categorization

    Set up your info structure

    “Data structure” is the way in which you manage your inside info, by way of the way you design the system that lets you entry and handle that info.

    Web sites are a fantastic, pragmatic instance of informational structure – they’re fairly actually formal techniques of data organized right into a navigable and interactable interface. Hyperlinks, website maps, and navbars all characterize the structure (the hyperlinks between completely different items of data) of the web sites you’re viewing.

    After all, we’re not essentially speaking about web sites. Data structure is a broad idea that may be utilized to any sort of information administration. In any case, constructing strong info structure will depend upon a deep understanding of what info you’ve, and probably the most environment friendly and efficient option to make sense of all of that.

    What does “effectivity” or “effectiveness” imply for info administration? You can begin by contemplating who might want to entry the knowledge. Will there be a number of iterations of comparable information, many information throughout completely different areas of the group, a number of departments accessing the identical space? This type of factor.

    Effectivity will be understood because the shortest time doable taken to entry any given file. What number of clicks can be a related metric. Is the folder construction unnecessarily advanced, taking 10 clicks by empty class folders earlier than reaching the vacation spot file? Take into account if extra horizontal group is a greater possibility, with a few clicks to related information.

    Effectiveness will be understood as whether or not or not the file naming conventions assist or hinder the completion of each day duties. What number of completely different information do you need to open earlier than you discover what you’re on the lookout for? Is the file naming conference intuitive, or do it’s worthwhile to spend further time studying methods to make sense of 010220_MA_P-01_Project_1_Draft.doc, when Marketing_Project_Proposal_June_v1.doc would just do tremendous?

    Readability: People vs Robots

    One of the necessary questions you may ask is: Who’re you organizing your information for? All stated and executed, who will truly be utilizing this method of file naming conventions to navigate your library?

    It might be that you just’re organizing inside media information in a distant group, or for a neighborhood intranet – in that case, you in all probability need the information to be human-readable. In that case, one thing like this may make sense:

    file naming conventions

    Preserving issues quick, significant, and eradicating pointless info will assist folks navigate your information with minimal effort.

    Then again, maybe you’re tasked with managing giant batch information for automated processing or robotic search, wherein case, human readability won’t be your major concern (although it’s in all probability nonetheless helpful, within the least for debugging and error-chasing functions.)

    Wikipedia exhibits that being digital can broaden your categorization

    Wikipedia is without doubt one of the largest collaborative works of human information on the planet in recorded historical past, however have you ever ever thought-about how that info is structured?

    Let’s return to the concept of data structure. In 1996 Richard Saul Wurman described info structure as:

    “the creating of systemic, structural, and orderly rules to make one thing work – the considerate making of both artifact, or concept, or coverage that informs as a result of it’s clear.”

    In keeping with Noreen Whysel writing for the American Society for Data Science and Know-how:

    “Wurman coined the phrase info structure in his 1976 program for the American Institute of Architects annual assembly. If we take Wurman as a begin, then IA is a subject of follow that’s approaching its 40th anniversary. Sadly, this lengthy historical past shouldn’t be mirrored on this planet’s largest public encyclopedia.”

    Whysel was a part of the group proposing the WikiProject Data Structure; an try to enhance Wikipedia’s info structure from top-down, beginning with their high-level classes and transferring right down to the content material on every particular person web page. The objective was to enhance ease of use, navigation, and belief.

    Wikipedia’s open-edit nature means there are loads of methods you may unpack the categorization system. Take a look at the Wikipedia Contents web page to see what I imply. Beginning with language, the nested classes transfer from web page varieties to broad topic areas, to many alternative sub-categories and sub-sub-categories going all the way in which down.

    You can even browse Wikipedia utilizing different categorization techniques like Dewey Decimal, or by merely looking out. In actual fact, Wikipedia itself states:

    “There are two methods to look issues up in Wikipedia: by looking out or by looking.”

    What’s the lesson right here? Wikipedia is demonstrating that it’s simpler to make the most of a variety of various categorization and search strategies, and that search is probably one of the crucial user-friendly options for navigating big, advanced databases of data.

    That is particularly helpful to acknowledge when contemplating greatest practices for file naming conventions. In case your objective is to arrange your information and paperwork in order that they’re simple to navigate, then it’s value spending time with the file naming construction in order that customers can use constant search phrases to seek out precisely what they’re on the lookout for.

    The Dewey Decimal file naming conference

    “Dewey Decimal” refers to a file naming conference named after a 19th century American librarian named Melvil Dewey. Initially, it was a way of organizing info (books) based mostly on 10 foremost courses that tried to cowl… effectively, just about all the things.

    Who’s it for & what downside does it clear up?

    We should always keep in mind that the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) was at first a system designed for use in libraries. It was additionally initially designed to be organized by self-discipline, versus subject. This has modified over time, and lots of locations, libraries and different such organizations, implement their very own taste of Dewey Decimal.

    Nonetheless one of the crucial utilized guide group techniques on this planet, “Dewey Decimal” is in impact in over 200,000 libraries in 35 nations within the 21st century. So what can we be taught from this naming conference?

    The principle downside Dewey Decimal solves is organizational. It helps organize books in a means that enables anybody looking to swiftly discover what they’re on the lookout for. For higher or worse, the Dewey Decimal system is right here to remain, and its longstanding legacy speaks to its efficacy as a file naming conference.

    How does it work?

    One of the best ways to elucidate how the Dewey Decimal system works is by exhibiting. Right here’s a desk organized utilizing Dewey Decimal:

    file naming conventions

    Discover on the left hand aspect, there are numbers from 000 to 999. That is the “decimal” component. Right here we’ve:

    • 10 foremost classes of subject
    • 100 distinctive divisions per subject
    • 1000 distinctive sections in complete

    Primarily, utilizing numbers to divide foremost classes into smaller, extra particular divisions and sections That’s the Dewey Decimal system in a nutshell.

    file naming conventions

    Strictly talking, you may take these sections and additional subdivide with precise decimal factors (many bigger libraries do) like so:

    file naming conventions

    Nonetheless, you must decide whether or not that is obligatory or just overkill, relying in your inside file and course of library.

    Adapting Dewey Decimal on your group

    One of many pitfalls of the unique Dewey Decimal Classification as a library naming conference is the truth that it tends to replicate any biases in its organizational construction.

    That is extra an issue when the objective is goal organizational readability, for instance when deciding the place sure poorly understood or novel topics or areas of examine ought to fall on a library shelf. It’s much less of an issue while you simply wish to manage a set of information or processes on your inside group.

    In actual fact, bias can truly be useful right here. Completely different groups in a company may have completely different biases in the direction of organizational construction, together with how core information and process paperwork are saved.

    For instance, the bias of the engineering group is perhaps helpful when deciding how the information and/or processes for that group ought to be organized.

    Who higher to handle and personal the group of kinds, information, and recurring processes than the individuals who use them most?

    You won’t want a thousand-manifold Dewey Decimal construction to arrange your inside information and processes. However you may be capable to use the rules of DDC to enhance your file naming conventions. If you happen to can implement a easy, intuitive construction with numbered subdivisions of particular classes and features, you’re one step nearer to enhancing the searchability (and subsequently the utility and actionability) of your inside file construction.

    Course of standardization vs course of harmonization

    Small companies are in a fantastic place to implement actually strong file naming conventions and standardize their processes. Once you concentrate on fixing these issues early, earlier than you develop and increase too giant, you clear up a easy downside earlier than it grows wildly unmanageable.

    As a SMB, you don’t have so many inside processes, so it’s simpler to handle all of them and get to the purpose the place you’ve all the things underneath management.

    If you happen to run a small enterprise, you don’t want 5 completely different documented processes for storing paperwork or coping with completely different tasks and shoppers. Even in the event you handle two or three comparable institutions like this, it’s simple to make certain that all of those use the identical strategies.

    The problem you face will come while you attain the purpose of getting 1,000 completely different institutions in numerous nations, that must comply with completely different legal guidelines and laws, or promote completely different services or products. This turns into a query of course of standardization vs course of harmonization.

    Course of standardization means making one course of for one job and conserving it the identical, irrespective of the place you employ it. Clearly, this gained’t work if it’s worthwhile to work throughout completely different nations or navigate completely different laws. Course of harmonization, then, is about setting a standardized core, however permitting for delicate modifications as and when to accommodate for various use circumstances and eventualities.

    Standardization or Harmonization? You want Each is a paper by Albrecht Richen and Ansgar Steinhorst that delves into the connection between these two phrases.

    McKinsey additionally revealed a newer examine, Getting Ruthless With Your Processes, which offers some attention-grabbing insights.

    They discovered that of the 300 high executives surveyed, 85% believed that processes “assist them share information throughout divisions and areas”, with a key takeaway being that standardized processes assist to enhance efficiency throughout the board.

    One other necessary takeaway is the demonstration that the majority corporations are dangerous at managing their processes. One telling perception being that one firm has 30 separate processes for the act of folding a seat on an oil rig!

    What’s the purpose right here? Firms ought to take course of standardization extra significantly, however they need to additionally perceive the distinction and worth between standardization and course of harmonization.

    McKinsey’s recognized three challenges right here:

    • Processes for the sake of processes – too many processes for issues that basically don’t want processes, which means wasted time and assets.
    • Over-standardization – to the purpose the place processes turn into so inflexible and rigid that they’re rendered ineffective.
    • Resistance to altering processes – Even when your objective is standardization, you must give staff area to try to make modifications to and enhance processes.

    How can we apply these insights to the issue of file naming conventions, and extra broadly, overcoming the challenges of data structure?

    McKinsey beneficial three approaches:

    • Construct and keep a course of library – workers ought to have a central repository of all inside processes and procedures, with a transparent file naming conference and informational construction. As soon as that is established as a transparent initiative, it helps to ascertain an inside tradition extra observant of correct file naming conventions and information administration.
    • Optimize your processes – both by way of standardization or harmonization. The way you strategy this virtually will rely in your firm. In any case, your objective is to enhance the effectivity and effectiveness of your processes.
    • Implement top-down modifications – this helps set up clear greatest practices for information administration and also will assist to construct a simpler firm tradition round greatest practices. Take into account establishing a process-focused group with members from completely different departments to satisfy frequently and focus on one of the simplest ways to optimize processes of their respective groups. This strategy helps facilitate each standardization and enchancment.

    How we manage inside processes at Course of Avenue

    We’ve gone over some widespread methods to arrange information and folders, nevertheless it is perhaps extra helpful to try how we do issues internally right here on the advertising and marketing group.

    It’s fairly easy – we’ve loads of inside processes, and we’re all the time including new processes, in addition to constantly enhancing previous ones. So there are two foremost sections – Dwell (for completed, ready-to-use processes) and Staging (mainly a sandbox for testing new processes).

    file naming conventions

    That is sort of borrowing from the software program improvement framework, as a result of we’re coping with instruments (processes) which might be iterated on and sometimes want plenty of testing earlier than they’re able to go reside. That’s just about the place the comparability stops, although – so don’t get too slowed down on it.

    In Staging, we phase the processes into the various kinds of advertising and marketing processes used for getting issues executed on the advertising and marketing group. It’s purely utilitarian, and designed to be simple to comply with for any new members.

    file naming conventions

    Inside Staging, we’ve a couple of different folders:

    file naming conventions

    They’re all fairly self-explanatory. Archive is for previous processes we don’t want anymore (however nonetheless wish to hold a report of), High quality Evaluation is the place processes go earlier than they get moved into “Dwell”, after somebody takes a correct look over them, and Sandbox is the place every course of begins its life, as a take a look at or tough draft.

    And that’s it! Nothing too advanced. The factor about file naming conventions, is that it’s worthwhile to design the answer round your wants. Why over-complicate issues if a easy, extra elegant answer would work simply tremendous?

    You may additionally have a real want for a extra in-depth answer like Dewey Decimal – make sure to take into account what the most effective match for you is perhaps.

    The right way to manage the right course of library

    Whether or not you’re creating a brand new course of library from scratch or are simply trying into methods to higher manage your information, our Course of Library Guidelines will stroll you, step-by-step, by all the things it’s worthwhile to ensure your system is organized and environment friendly from the beginning.

    Check out our Course of Library Guidelines beneath:

    As you may see, that is extra than simply your typical to-do listing.

    The guidelines is superpowered by our workflow automation options like: conditional logic, position assignments, Approvals, and cease duties!

    It makes the daunting job of getting all the things organized much more easy, proper?

    This Course of Avenue guidelines can be utilized to create a course of library at any scale, whether or not it’s, for instance, on your firm or on your private pc at house.

    Utilizing this guidelines will let you simply:

    1. Construct an environment friendly and efficient course of library on your firm;
    2. Streamline your recurring processes;
    3. Maintain observe of progress and recorded information with the assistance of options just like the guidelines dashboard.

    To get an concept of how different corporations are utilizing Course of Avenue to construct their very own course of libraries, take a look at the video beneath from Mainline Autobody:

    What sort of file naming conventions are you utilizing? Inform us about your experiences (or horror tales) within the feedback beneath!


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