Which version is the most recent?
A recurring problem people I meet tell me about is that they are often supposed to give their document a name that suggests it is very similar to the one saved just next to it, only this is a slightly more recent version in which they have made alterations. Even if there are ways to trace versions of a document built into most apps, software, and programs these days, they still want to save the document using a different name. There is nothing wrong with that and I completely understand why since they might, for instance, want access to both versions simultaneously.
So what do they name the most recent version of the document? Unfortunately, it is common that people add a “_NEW” or perhaps even a “_MOST_RECENT”-tail at the end of the name.
I know it can be tempting, but don’t do this. Doing so can confuse both you and your colleagues.
When yet another version of the same document is created, the last one is no longer neither new nor the most recent one. If you then try to make amends by fashioning endings such as “_NEWER” or “_DEFINITELY_MOST_RECENT” you will soon get lost in the general mess of files.
Do this instead
If naming files is an unclear business where you work and you tend to name files in a way that only leads to confusion, bring it up with your colleagues during the next appropriate meeting.
Agree on what syntax you will use to name versions of a document from now on (and only apply it to future documents - attempting to go back to change previous ones can cause more harm than good). Here are a few suggestions of how to name versions:
Simply name them in order, meaning: “_ver01”, “_ver02”, and so on,
Name it using the phase of the project the document concerns: “_preliminary-study”, “_development”, “_implementation”,
Or use some other way that suits you better.
Document the rule you agree to use somewhere - perhaps in a “file-naming-dictionary” if you have one or a decision log (a method I recently described in an edition of Done!) - so that it becomes easy to remind yourself of what the right way to name new and updated files is from now on.
Decrease the risk of doing something twice
If you agree to use a standardized way to name versions of files and documents, you will find what you are looking for much faster. The risk of making changes in the wrong version of something (which might then get lost when others continue working on a more recent version) decreases significantly, and you will not have to do the same effort and work twice (at least!).
What's your way?
How have you decided to name versions of files at your company? Write to me and share your method or syntax. As always, you will reach me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and I am very curious to hear how you have solved this seemingly small but very annoying problem.
Thank you for joining me today and see you again next week.