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How to Organize Project Files

 

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1) What the Project File Organization includes:
Project Files are special informational containers (documents, folders, certain electronic entities) which are used for storing and systematization of the project-related data. Project management is mainly a mastery to operate with information, so the better these files are organized, the easier it is for the project team members to access them and derive any required information.

Ineffective organization of project files, whether electronic or paper-based, can put serious risks upon the way towards agile and smooth performance of a project, as enormous amounts of time will be senselessly wasted by the team members due to poorly arranged searching and sharing of information that they will daily need for their ongoing work.

Actually, organization of project files is based upon the following:

  • Systematization of files: the project files should be classified, coordinated, and arranged in a logical, reasonable manner enabling people to easily navigate through them (reach a required file promptly by referencing this document via its “coordinates” – the details determining its address in the project repository). Systematization includes:
    • Categorization of project files (identifying the major types of files and arranging them in appropriate categories and sub-categories to be addressed in a suitable manner);
    • Linking up the files to each other (designing a way to link up the files logically, so they can be effectively cross-referenced and integrated into a single database);
    • Assigning IDs to the files (attributing unique identifiers/addresses to the project files, so every file can be addressed precisely);
    • Establishing project files repository (in modern circumstances electronic methods prevail over the traditional paper-based ones);
  • File sharing: once people need to collaborate at their project files, it is necessary for them to act within a framework of certain access rules enabling them to co-operate at shared files and documents productively, orderly, securely and without conflicts. This comprises:
    • Recognizing specific regulations for shared access and utilization of the documents;
    • Establishing different authorization levels for the team members;
    • Providing means and environment where people can share documents;
    • Controlling how effectively the files are shared in practice;
  • Navigational tools: a repository of project files/documents needs to be equipped with certain tools which allow people to reach, study, and modify the information quickly and faultlessly. This includes a toolbox for navigation, accessing, reading, and modifying of the documents in the project repository. This category comprises administrative and practical tools:
    • Tools to search for required project files;
    • Tools to operate the project files;
    • Tools to control and regulate the operations with the project files;

2) A way to Organize Project Files:

Systematization:

  1. Identify project files to be organized (create an index of project files);
  2. Identify the key features of project files for their classification & categorization (for example document types, statuses they will have, departments where they will be used, etc);
  3. Define which attributes are constant (for ex: a document type) and which are changeable yet (for ex: a document status or version);
  4. Identify acceptable variance of changeable attributes (for example a workflow of statuses);
  5. Decide how a set of different attributes can be appropriated to a document for characterizing it in an exhaustive manner (create a pattern to shortly mark a document with attributes);
  6. Design a way to categorize the project files – create a hierarchy of folders to encase project files, so they can be precisely addressed (define their strict places in repository);  
  7. Decide on the ways to store them (if files are paper-based then acquire appropriate furniture, including safes, and if electronic then install appropriate software);
  8. Set rules for document storing/using at individual workplaces (lockable cabinets or protected electronic access to the shared resources);
  9. Form up a repository where the files will be stored (set up software to recognize your needs);

File sharing and navigational tools:

  1. Arrange the electronic documents for easier accessing by the team members from any workplace within your LAN (you can use client-server software to set up the repository);
  2. Recognize a concept of authorization to access different documents and design which levels of authorization are suitable to your situation (which level is suitable to which document);
  3. Appoint different levels of authorization to different users according to their roles;
  4. Make sure it is possible to quickly access and share important information with your team, as well as clients or suppliers when it is necessary (some systems provide features for this);
  5. Ensure the collaborative processes are performed through a central place (a centralized database) where the project files reside under protection of security systems and rules;
  6. Establish navigational tools and educate the team members to utilize them (effective database and file management systems provide customizable tools to navigate for files);
  7. Ensure the team members don’t suffer from questions of “where” the information is located and always know how to reach certain project file;
  8. Control whether embedded attachments and web-links are workable;
  9. Ascertain you have special means to capture feedbacks and notes from the team members to learn how effectively they use files;

3) A simple way to organize project file with VIP Task Manager:
VIP Task Manager is a client-server product that stands for collaboration between people, so it enables the team members to organize and share files on their tasks and projects. Let’s consider simple step-by-step instructions to manage project files using this product:

Instruments to be used:

  • Task Tree mode;

Task Tree mode actions:

  • Create hierarchy of project task groups and tasks;
  • Define how the tasks and groups belong to users (set assignments);
  • Identify the files (electronic documents) that are associated with each of the tasks or task groups (e.g. informational materials, instructions, report, etc);
  • Define which of these files should be edited while in work and which are just read-only;
  • Ensure the files that are to be modified are placed into shared folders within your LAN, let’s say on your server’s hard-drive;
  • Use section Attachments of tasks to attach electronic documents as “Files” (if you need them to be in read-only format) and as “Links” (if you want them to be edited);
  • Make sure people can reach attachments in their tasks;
  • For more information see this Video-Guide on Attachments;
  • Use Permissions to protect tasks and attachment from unauthorized access;

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