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Preventing Document Chaos with File Naming Convention

Try opening up “Untitled copy 2.pdf” on your desktop and quickly determining which report you need to access right now — is it “Inspection report,” “Inspection report FINAL,” or “UPDATED FINAL Inspection report?”

Naming files at random makes it incredibly difficult to stay organized and collaborate. Not only is it nearly impossible to ascertain the contents of a hastily saved “Report” at a quick glance, but haphazard naming of files also zaps productivity by forcing users to determine precisely which files were saved where. One report from McKinsey has found that the average employee spends 1.8 hours every day searching for and gathering information. That’s close to 20% of the work day!

Of course, you can sit down, put your headphones on and dive into manual naming and renaming of all the files, but let’s get real: there are smarter ways to cope with it.

Name Files with Purpose Using a File Naming Convention 

Adhering to a proper file naming convention can help clear up the confusion. Rather than allowing teams to create, save, and share files based on an arbitrary naming system, an established file naming convention can ensure that files stay well-organized and easy to understand. 

As a systematic method for naming files, any company can establish its own unique file naming convention that best meets their needs. Depending on how files need to be retrieved, these conventions can determine how dates are labeled, how versions are applied, or how any other nomenclature is adhered to within a file system. 

You can set rules for naming so that field workers don’t mess up documents just because they forget how the documents were named.  

The Smithsonian Institute, an organization that knows a thing or two about keeping items organized, adheres to a set of best practices when it comes to naming and collecting digital files:

  • Make the name human-readable and distinct 
  • Stick to a consistent, machine-friendly pattern
  • Place files in consistent directories
  • Avoid filename repetition
  • Ensure the file extension matches the file format

In essence, keeping file names consistent and easy to understand is key. It doesn’t matter which specific conventions are best for your company. What’s important is sticking to the same pattern so that dates, versions, or any other pertinent data is clearly recognizable. 

Case studies at Stanford University have highlighted the importance of proper file naming in everything from DNA sequencing to ocean mapping. Even if your company isn’t imaging the floor of the Atlantic into thousands of uniquely tiled pictures, properly organizing your reports, checklists, contracts, and any other files can keep your team just as well-organized as university research teams. 

This is especially true when it comes to field workers. Following file naming conventions at a place like a construction site can be incredibly important, but between the sheer number of documents, users, and workflows, following the right convention can be a time-consuming challenge. Implementing file naming conventions with as little friction as possible can help ensure that documents remain properly organized with little to no effort. 

Eliminate File Naming Guesswork with Workflow Automation

It’s never been easier to maintain a proper file naming convention through workflow automation. Eliminating the need for users to assign names to files themselves, workflow automation can establish an automatic, highly customized naming convention that newly created documents stick to. Even in cases where a user tries to name a document themselves, workflow automation can prevent that from happening, ensuring that each document stays clear and organized in your company’s file system.

Adding a file naming convention to your files also minimises human error. When people are working on the field, they do not always pay attention to how they name their files and could make many mistakes by chance. 

Fluix, as a workflow automation platform, makes it easy for companies to implement unique naming conventions. Using built-in parameters or your own custom attributes, filenames can be structured by date, time, user, or other form fields. File names are automatically generated from entered field values of a PDF form, when it travels through Fluix workflow. For field workers, this makes it easy to automatically keep documents organized and arranged, and for those in the office, documents can quickly become easily accessible and searchable. 

“The best thing is when you can decide how much you want your field team to be forced to use certain document names. Either you name the documents already before they enter Fluix, or you decide that the names should be created based on information filled out or chosen by users in fields in the document.” — says Vera Poppel, Consultant at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy.

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