In the age of file sharing, FTP sites, all sorts of web based collaboration tools and the ever dreaded email attachment, it's as though everyone's file cabinet is open to everyone else. This can be a great asset to any team that needs to share access to information, but it can also be an ugly mess if not managed and organized in a way that is easy for everyone to understand and maintain.
Information is inventory, and like any other warehouse or storage facility, there are several opportunities to introduce waste. Not being able to find information creates wasted time and effort searching. Keeping outdated, or not needed information takes up space and requires that people move or skip over these files when looking for what they really need.
One suggestion to help eliminate this waste is to use common file name conventions for your team. A common strategy for naming files will make it easier for everyone to identify the content and owner of the file without having to open it up.
As an example, my partner and I introduced file name conventions for student submissions in a class we were teaching a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, we only did this after we had received several files from students with almost identical, undisruptive file names such as casestudy.doc. After sorting through this mess, we implemented a standard to be used for the rest of the course (and I have continued with it since!). We asked the students to name their files using the following convention:
Lastname.AbrvTitle.Assignment.doc (i.e. Smith.CustAnalysis.CaseStudy.doc)
Receiving files in this manner allowed us to easily organize and access the files. It also made it much easier to email our comments and grades to students once we had evaluated the documents.
As with everything posted, particularly in the of posts from the Everyday Lean series, I encourage everyone to participate in discussions by adding your own comments, references or experiences.
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