I was just thinking
"The Hat size of the Nearest Squirrel?”
First is my disclaimer: “ I am naturally organizationally dysfunctional. I simply have had to force myself to make some adaptations to that natural state so that I could remain gainfully employed. This topic is one of the ways I have adapted to working in the very fast paced world of IT management.”
The importance of this discussion came together for me a couple years ago while still employed by my previous institution. On one particularly busy/hectic morning I received at least a half dozen emails with attachments all named “Kent” There were a few Word documents and couple PDF’s and maybe even a spreadsheet or two. I was in a hurry and I was frustrated that I had to open each and every doc to find out what it contained.
Is this your file management solution?
Normally, it wasn’t that big of a deal to just open the doc to see the contents, but on this particular day we were “getting hammered” as things weren’t going as well as I would have liked. I was in a hurry and didn’t need the hassle of opening each document to see what it contained. It was at that point I began researching a document naming scheme which would provide a means for communicating key document information to the user at a glance. It was also helpful that we were beginning to research Document Imaging systems and really I got the basis for this from that world. This makes a lot of sense as on day-to-day basis department or project staff are constantly sharing documents via online cloud based storage, network storage, email and portable media storage devices and as a result it can be easy to loose track of what a document contains and which version is which.
It probably sounds like I have spent a little too much time reading Dilbert and just for the record Dilbert’s advice on this issue is “The committee decided that the file naming convention will start with the date, in the order of month, year, day...then a space, then the temperature at the airport, and the hat size of the nearest squirrel...”
A Quick Note on Digital Asset Management
In the modern world many geeks will tell you a file naming convention is so 2004. They will say you need to think about Digital Asset Management (DAM) Even with metadata, file names can also be critical in differentiating things like color space or resolution. While the DAM can easily differentiate between these objects via metadata, humans have a little bit more difficulty.
Humans name things. That’s how we’re built. While DAMs do reduce the necessity for encoding metadata in file name/path (thankfully!) there is it is still useful to have some differentiation between similar objects. Also some Mac users I have a terrible habit of putting bullets, percent signs, and other punctuation in their file names (Smith, 2012).
So here it goes RULE# 1 The only permitted characters in your file naming scheme are a-z, 0-9, underscore, dash, and period before extension.
Putting the key document information in the title has several benefits, (1) it will assist your project team members to quickly identify the project, department/function, document title and version/revision number without having to open the document and scan for updates and (2) this information will assist in the development, management, security, storage/retrieval and the eventual deliberate destruction of the document.
Implementing a document naming convention in a project/department/organization goes a little further than just sending out an interoffice memo or ‘All Staff’ email. Project staff need to be trained (ideally as part of their induction into the working group) and a focal point (usually the project administrator) needs to be appointed to advise on how to implement the project filing when questions arise with a resource document for reference. RULE#2 Include all pertinent info, but not too much.
For example If I created a Word file about about creating a file naming policy on February 15, 2012 it would look something like this.
A) yyyymmdd-B) Document-Imaging-C) DepartmentD) filenaming-policy-creation-E) kdb-F) v01-G) 00.H) doc
A) Reverse Creation Date-B) ProjectTopicalArea-C) department-D) document-name-E) creator intitals-
Possible Add ons for further depth if your going to have multiple versions of a doc. You may want to rely on the versioning capabilities of tools such as Google Docs for this
F) version number-G) revision number-H) file name extension as shown below:
When document version number is final I usually add the word FINAL if it is the final version of a document
One other thought on this issue:
I read somewhere recently that in a file naming convention where you want to consider Search Engine Optimization (SEO) you might wish to substitute a period for an underscore. I need to do some more reading on this, but the basic concept is:
Sometimes I have a second date reference if the document references another date or document with a specific or important date as shown in the example below:
Notes on Some of the Components
A. Reverse Creation Date
Computer filing systems such as Window XP sort numerically and alphabetically, as such, using the reverse creation format “yymmdd” will ensure the file automatically list in order of creation. Some people may not like to use the “yyyy” format, as in “2006″ but I think it easier to see the year in four characters although some may say, “why add more characters to your file name than you have to?”
Project Topical Area Name
Obviously there are millions of combinations and permutations for project name abbreviations and I have read a six letter code has proven to be quiet effective. The first 3 letters in this scheme are for the client organization and the second 3 are for the project abbreviation. However, I have decided to simply come up with a list of topical areas and I do usually spell it out as again I want something I can reference at a glance without having to convert in my head what it means. However, if saving characters to a person then creating appropriate abbreviations such as shown below may be important.
Example: Project Topical Area or Category
PL - Planning
PM – ProjectManagement
TRG – Training
SCRC -Screencapture (Note: This may not make sense for some, but I use it all the time)
Example: Department Acronyms
HR – Human Resources
SEC – Security / Risk Management
LEG – Legal
VEH – Vehicle Fleet Mgt
LOG – Logistics
DOIT - Department of Information Technology
PRO – Procurement
FIN – Finance
FAC – Facilities Management
INV – Inventory / Material Management
INF – Information Management
This is pretty straight forward but a word of advice, try to keep it brief to prevent your file name from becoming too big. A way to do this is to not use spaces instead use capital letters to distinguish between
If you want to have some other options for identifying documents you may look at something like the following suggested method for version and revision numbers. I don't use these, but often in many systems this or a similar scheme are often used.
0.01 – 0.89 = DRAFT
0.90 – 0.99 = REVIEW
1.00 = FINAL (client version)
1.01 – 1.89 = DRAFT for second version)
1.90 – 1.99 = REVIEW for second version)
2.00 = FINAL (re-released client version)
There are obviously many ways of doing this however I’ve found this document naming convention to be quite useful in keeping track of what I am working on. When you get hundreds or thousands of documents you must sort through to find a specific single doc you have created you will appreciate having some sort of organizational system
Smith, Edward. "File Naming Best Practices for Digital Asset Management." DAM Learning Center | Digital Asset Management Knowledge and Inspiration. Dam Learning Center, 25 Apr. 2011. Web. 16 Feb. 2012. a href="http://www.damlearningcenter.com/street-smarts/file-naming-best-practices-for-digital-asset-management/%3E">http://www.damlearningcenter.com/street-smarts/file-naming-best-pra...;.