Posted on February 28, 2012 by Jennifer Porterfield

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It goes without saying that content management systems (CMS for short; Microsoft Sharepoint is a very popular one) are a step in the right direction towards the goal of a paperless office. Unfortunately, just as a disorganized filing cabinet can make your life a living place of fire and brimstone, if you don’t organize your virtual storehouse properly, you could face problems. Big problems.

For example: Let’s say Stupendously Awesome Technology Company (not pointing any fingers) has decided to use Alfresco (pictured below), an open source content management system, to store all of its proposals. It’s a small company, so understandably, no one has the time to think about trivialities like how to name a file or where to store it. They start it off right – a general “Proposals” folder with separate subfolders for each proposal name.

And that’s when it all goes wrong.alfresco content management system

You open a folder for Proposal X, and there are 50 files named anything from proposal.pdf to N62335753-08R2t.doc (because of course you will know EXACTLY what’s in files with such descriptive names). Or, even more fun, you have multiple variations of the same document – proposal1.doc, newproposal.doc, revisedproposal.doc…And now you get to play eeny meeny miny moe with which one is the right proposal. Sounds like fun, right?

Here are just a few suggestions based on my experience with the CMS world:

  1. Where applicable, try to come up with a naming convention that makes sense for how you want the information to be organized / searched. For example, I name our invoices YYYY-MM-DD_BillerName_InvNumber. This way, they show up in date order and can be searched by biller name and invoice number.
  2. If there are going to be multiple versions of a document, it might be wise to create separate folders for each version (eg, draft, draft final, final). OR make sure to date / label the most current version so it can be easily picked out of a list.
  3. Don’t be afraid to make folders within folders within folders. For example, we keep our “Proposal” folder within our “Marketing” folder. We further segment our proposals by type (federal, state, commercial, etc.). Then there are folders for the actual proposal names, and depending on the type of proposal we’re submitting, there might be additional folders within those folders. To lay it out in simpler, breadcrumb terms: Marketing>Bids and Proposals>Federal Proposals>Proposal X>Resumes.

If organization is not your thing or you just plain don’t have time for it, find someone who is OCD and loves to organize to upload all of your documents for you. Just remember – I charge by the hour (just kidding; I’m not for hire).