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Folder structure for document management

Posted on 2014-09-30
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Last Modified: 2014-10-02
We would like to convert our paper filing system to a simple electronic filing system using Adobe on Windows PC's.  Several people have offered input into the folder structure for the system.  We would have a folder for each of our customers that would contain a folder for each job we are doing for that customer.  Within each job folder, there would be other folders for different classifications of documents.  One group within our company is proposing that the folders for different classifications should remain in a set order within the parent folder.  To accomplish this, they want to begin each classification with a letter in the format "a.quotes" for example and the next folder might be "b.submittals" and the next "c.revised,submittals".  The files will be kept on a network share that is accessible by seven users.  Our question is, although a period is not an illegal character, is it a good practice to use periods in a folder name?  And, is there a better method for keeping the folders within the job folder in a specific order?
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Question by:dur2348
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 668 total points
ID: 40353737
I use a_quotes instead of a.quotes but I do not think it make a difference.

If you want a specific order for folders, you can precede with a number. So:

101_a_quotes
102_b_results
103_c_quotes

will order by the numbers at front.

Another thing I found is that time has outlived my folder structure, so almost every document folder now has year folders (2009  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 and so on). These sort numerically which is handy and I often know the year of a document (at least within the last five years).

Having said the above, there are as many ways to organize documents as people on the earth.
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by:dur2348
ID: 40353782
One concern with period in folder name was possible problems with specifying path in Windows Explorer.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 40354220
One concern with period in folder name was possible problems with specifying path

I suggest you not use periods. I do not (but I do us underscore) and do not have any problems.
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Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE) earned 668 total points
ID: 40354311
I've seen all kinds of setups and the answer comes down to what would work best for you.   I don't think anyone can tell you that per say.

For example, I have one client  that is a construction company.  They do everything by the job.   They organize the folders by the job, then by year.   For other places, they organize everything by the year.

Two other things that come into play:
1. The system you using to track the documents

2. Being able to identify documents outside of that system and prevention of duplicates.

For #1, if documents are fully managed outside of the file system with an app, then except for the problems of dups, it really doesn't matter where they land and a short and/or flat storage scheme will be more efficient.

For #2, if your tracking system becomes corrupt, can you identify all documents?   I generally like to tag documents in some way so the original file name is intact, but I also have something to identify what it's related to (such as a client).

Jim.
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Author Comment

by:dur2348
ID: 40354385
We are going by customer then by job within job there will be folders relating to different segments of job.  Concern is effect of using dots "." in the folder name and how that might effect future use of folders if we adopt an outside document management program.  The dot "." is a legal character but is it wise to use it for folders?  Has anybody had wide experience or seen it used for folder naming?
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 664 total points
ID: 40356182
most don't use a dot as a deliminator which goes back to the 8.3 naming convention so they used a _ or a - as a separator. You should be looking at a document management system.. sharepoint works very well for this.
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Author Comment

by:dur2348
ID: 40357654
Thanks to all for input.  Will be closing question now.
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Author Closing Comment

by:dur2348
ID: 40357666
I did not accept my own comment as the solution--thought all expert comments were applicable and tried to mark accordingly.
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 40357761
@dur2348  - Thank you for the update and I was happy to help.
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