Team Leader: Can you send me a copy of the electrical standard for digging trenches from our file sharing system?
Team Member: Sure, what’s the document number?
Team Leader: I don’t know—maybe it’s ABC123?
Team Member: What server is it on?
Team Leader: Check the general one.
1 hour later . . .
Team Member: I found four different documents on the archived server. I can’t tell which one is the most current. There isn’t a change log in the documents, and they all have the same date.
Team Leader: We need to get a better organized and intuitive folder structure in our file sharing system. It is too difficult to find a document we need.
While using file sharing tools such as SharePoint® is an excellent way to give multiple people access to company documentation, looking for a document within a file sharing system can be a time killer unless there is a well-organized folder structure in place. Without an organized and intuitive folder structure, the system can become a disjointed mess of differently named folders and documents.
For example, ABC Pipeline Company had issues with finding documents and deciding which version was the latest. The solution? An organized folder structure within the file sharing system can be a time saver when you need to find a document quickly.
To have an effective file sharing system, determine the structure and conventions for naming the folders. Create a folder naming convention that starts at a high level, such as using the type of facility or type of document. For example, start with the type of documents (i.e., Operating Procedures, Standards) and then name the folders with either a location or system.
By using an intuitive structure in the file sharing system, the reader now has some basic information about the type of documents that are available.
It is important to distribute a memo or notice informing users that there is a revised folder structure to the file sharing system. To verify that the documents are filed in the correct locations, we recommend delegating one or two people as the point of accountability.
Having a file sharing system is great, but if users can’t easily find the documents they are looking for, the system can be a company’s equivalent to a ‘junk drawer’ in the kitchen. Setting up an organized and intuitive folder structure saves time and frustration when you are looking for a document.
Now that the file sharing system is organized, what about document nomenclature? The next Where’s my document? blog will discuss document naming conventions and will have some ideas on how to solve this issue that many companies experience.