What’s the best way to track all the versions of a document?

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Question: "We have so many people in my office creating and revising so many documents and swapping them around, I don't know of the best way to ensure someone's not grabbing the wrong one from the network—or from the person they're teaming with. Does anyone have any tips so I don't keep hearing, 'Oh, I think this is the right version'?" - Kristen, Office Manager

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jackqueline June 27, 2014 at 2:05 am

Share drive the bain of my life. I am a Recordkeeper/Admin officer for a large not-for-profit in Australia. Version control is a misnomer, a very big misnomer.

I can suggest time and time again about the naming documents and saving ofdocuments, however once the whip is put away there is nothing you can do if you are not using an eDRMS (Electronic document and records management system).

At least if you are using this standard name convention YYYMMDD i.e. 2014_06_27_File_on _Naming.v1 (or Final) you would have some hope of knowing by just looking at the file extension which is the most current.

File paths are a must for hardcopies, teach your people how to put a file path on document they wish to print and they will never spend hours looking for soft copy of the hard copy they are holding with the words “I thought I had named something I could remember where is it”.

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Theresa Kasel June 26, 2014 at 5:33 pm

As others have mentioned, have one location that everyone has to go to get the latest version of a document or form. Make sure that date updated is on the form.

I would also send out an email saying “Form XYZ has been updated — the most recent version can be found here: linktodocument.” That way everyone gets notified that the document has been updated.

If the documents are forms that people put different information into, make sure that master is set up so that when someone uses the form, they have to save it with a new name.

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Shay June 26, 2014 at 4:26 pm

SharePoint or Google Docs – both those applications have edit features and save the last versions. You can also see the edit history, if needed.

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Laura June 26, 2014 at 4:23 pm

We include the date of the version in the saved title of the document. If it is for internal use only, I will add the word “final” to the last version and then go into network files and delete any old versions.

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sally dieterich June 26, 2014 at 4:22 pm

We write many memos to city council and our advisory board. We have one place in our shared drive where each aqre stored, so anyone working on the memo must use that copy and not remove it from that location. When it’s completed we title it “final” so all know that it’s ready to go. And we can always look at “date modified” and identify the most recent change. It has helped enormously.

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Eliza June 26, 2014 at 4:18 pm

SharePoint. It actually tracks versions so you don’t have to. You’ll always know the last edit. It works great and is easy to use. I have two different SP sites I use with multiple users of varying degrees of computer ability. Occasionally, I’ll have to help a user but very rarely once they know how it works.

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Amy June 27, 2014 at 8:09 am

SharePoint is the BEST way to store and share documents. Very user friendly!

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Marilyn June 26, 2014 at 4:14 pm

We have the problem with powerpoints – they are great about putting “confidential” on each page but no date. So we now add an electronic sticky with a date/time stamp and name of person sending the deck as well as version number – if there is one. This is on the first page of the deck. It takes a little extra time at front end but worth it.

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Anne June 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm

We use Google Docs at our agency. The document is put on the Google Drive and people either have viewing or editing privileges. The edits are automatically saved, and the latest version of the document always sits on the Google Drive.

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