How to organize in an organization?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by sunshineklein, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. sunshineklein

    sunshineklein Registered

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    Hi all,

    I have been on and off GTD for 6 years and love the methodology but I have had a major obstical the last few years. I started my own company...And we are working basically from Google drive. Here everything lives. Referens, checklist, finance, project etc. We have an professional folder were everything is subfolder from there. My team are not GTD-ers and just maintaining a "clean house " is hard because we are growing and things are developing very fast. I also use evernote that has become my salvation in private of some sort because of the easy use of tags and keeping it simple but it makes the information even more scattered around. We uses different form of chatt and emails to get the latest version of some project and it really drives me crazy. I want a more declutterd filesystem that can grow and work in a team.

    How do you do in an organization were you have documents (docs), plans, projects were you collaborate? I have tried an A-Z solutions. But it takes a couple of days before it's 5 to 9! folders deep. And suddenly we have the relevant document in a old version becaise of the non logical way of storing it. Just using evernote for referens is impractical because you would need a database from were the document is created. Quite often we create sheets that easily lives in google drive. How do you use evernote with the files you have to create elswere. For example a document that might be updated? It's easy with a webb clipper but documents that has to export to different programs like office word feels impractical?

    I can't find a solution or attack point to get in the right direction. Should I forbidd files to be touched in our file system? So that everybody are to store on there side? It's like everybody is sharing the same kitchen but put the plates in different locations based on how they work and think...

    This is a huge obstical and I really need input here.

    //Simon
     
  2. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    Well, if I had this problem I would start with ideas like:

    - A single folder system where all "masters" must go. If people want to work on a file somewhere else, they have to put the result in the proper place in that folder system. If someone tries to give you a file in some other way, you reject it and tell them that you'll go get it when they put it in the master system. You push everyone else to do the same thing.

    - One person is in charge of the folder structure--other people can put files into folders, but they can't create folders. Create a folder for "to be filed", for files that don't have any appropriate place. Commit to investing the time required to file those things.

    - Set a file naming convention. For example, you could require the date and the initials of the file creator. "170710_GRD_" could prefix all the files that I create today, if we imagine that my initials are GRD. That way you know who created the file. You require that the date be changed every time the file is changed, so you know which one is newest. You could have other conventions--maybe a string for customers, a string for specific topics, something.

    - If a file can't be stored in its appropriate folder, put a placeholder in that folder--maybe a text file that contains a path to where the file really is.
     
  3. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I took over as the manager for a small company in January and I'm also using Google Drive for most of our documents. What I did was I set up a single folder that is the master reference file cabinet. Only one layer of subfolders is allowed so that it stays A-Z sorted. In addition there is a folder for each person that is their own "inbox" into which anyone can put stuff that we might need. Those are all copies of the master files.

    Each person can set up any additional filing they need to handle their work on various documents within their own private section.

    There is a single folder "Needs Filing" where the documents that various people modify get put when they are done. I am the one that decides where they go in the reference system so much like Gardner suggests there is one person as the librarian. I've tried to get a naming convention implemented but in practice I end up renaming many of the files to match our convention. I use a YYYY-MM-DD_<topic>.<extension> file naming scheme.

    This is working well but we are all also in the same town and can see each other regularly. It is very rare that more than 1 person needs to work on any given document so there are few if any conflicts.

    For another project I am collaborating with 2 other people in a different country and we need to work on the same document. That document is in Scrivener so we set up a shared Dropbox location and let Dropbox/Scrivener handle the conflicts. Once a month or so we clean out the conflicts and so far it's working well. Due to timezone differences we rarely collide in our modifications but when we do it's easy to fix.

    A third way I am doing sharing is for coding where I have a GIT system and we run that like a normal coding scheme where individual programmers have the code to their system and we do forks, pushes, pulls and merges as necessary. For that system I have a master branch (like the still or production branch of the code) and a development branch that can have many forks for various features. Individuals can fork off a feature branch and work and eventually they can be merged back into the main development branch once accepted and that can eventually be merged into the master branch. It's adaptable to other types of documents other than just code and there are many ways to organize projects like manuals, books and even just collections of documents in a GIT system. The basic structure I use for the organization of the code is described here:

    http://nvie.com/posts/a-successful-git-branching-model/

    A friend is using the same structure for running a massive on-line course with students working on projects and lots of collaboration with people scattered around the world. It's very scalable.

    So that gives you 3 different ways to approach the problem, hopefully you can find something useful in one of them to apply to your situation.
     
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  4. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    I used to sell document management products and services so this is an issue I've helped clients grapple with. If you can afford it, I'd suggest you consider purchasing a document management software package. Most of them allow you to set file and user permissions, including who has access to the files and whether they can edit them. The good ones also include collaboration features including file check-in/check-out and versioning. Most also provide an indexing feature that lets you tag files with information to aid in search and retrieval. The cost will depend upon how many users need access and the features you need. I'd guess you'd be looking at $5,000 - $10,000 minimum.

    I no longer sell this software so I'm not trying to drum up business for myself. You should be able to research options and find resellers in your area by Googling "document management software" or "enterprise content management software" (also known as "ECMS" solutions).

    If document management software isn't realistic, Evernote offers a business tier that is designed to help with managing reference information in a group environment. It's less powerful than an ECMS but also much less expensive.

    Whether or not you use document management software, you'll need to set and enforce some policies with respect to file naming and folder structure conventions as well as document retention. @Gardener and @Oogiem make some good suggestions. I'll add a few tips: ask how you need to find the information to help you determine your file naming, indexing/tagging and folder structure conventions. Is the information about a client, for example? If so, are there multiple document types and is it important to distinguish between them (for example, proposals, contracts, invoices, correspondence)? Is the date of the document important? All of these things will help you come up with good naming conventions, file folder structures and more.

    I obviously can't provide you with a thorough consultation in this forum, but typically it makes sense to organize documents about clients by the name of the client, HR documents by employee, financial statements by date, etc. You know how your business runs. Start there to determine how best to organize everything.

    There's no technology or trick that will get around the need for meetings to help you create the file management policies, training to get everyone on board, and time spent on enforcing those policies. There will be growing pains. It will take people time to get used to a new way of doing things.

    I hope that helps. Good luck!
     
  5. sunshineklein

    sunshineklein Registered

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    Thank you for the awesome respons!

    @Oogiem, @Gardener & @bcmyers2112.

    I think
    I totally understand what you mean :)

    What I really are searching for was/is a practice where I know what hard landscape to train for could look like. I somewhat understand and feel where to begin developing this structure and how to do it. It´s not until you realise that some people can´t work in the environment that has organically been developed until the need for change is paramount. Thanks for the clarification of "stick to it", thats my take on what you are saying. Not without developing of course but the need for hard boundaries.

    I feel like the "Needs Filing" is where the rubber meets the road. Do you implement a practice of quarterly cleaning the folders to always be relevant in a form of tickler? We work well because of the continuous meetings monthly where we discuss our vision and goals. That keeps us straight in a for me to messy system.

    How do you keep it one layer in a "complex" chain of development? Let´s say you are to develop a new product, for examples a battery charger. In my head I have this structure to find the latest design file:

    #01.Products(master)
    /Product development/Product design/Product design_box/"2017-07-12_ChargerX(name of the product)_boxdesign.pdf"

    This makes it in a sleek system 4 levels deep...Is you recommendation of structure therefore having it the way here under? Never to use the foldernamn "products or product development because of the non specifik nature?
    #Product design/Product design_box/"2017-07-12_ChargerX(name of the product)_boxdesign.pdf"

    Its quite scarry for the team because that tends the first layer of folders to be more than a 100 quite fast:

    #Product_design
    #Product_picture
    #Contractor_1
    #Salesmaterial_retail
    #Salesmaterial_online

    etc, etc

    Can you give me some feedback on my thinking here? Is there any form of area that is difficult that you have found to be certainly difficult to only have 1 subfolder?

    Thank you :)
     
  6. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    Why not replace the folder layers with the file naming convention?

    So if we imagine that the customer is Smith, Inc, then the files could have names like:

    170812_DesBox_SMITH_ChargerX.pdf
    170911_DesBox_SMITH_ChargerY.pdf
    170604_Pict_SMITH_ChargerX.pdf
    171012_SaleRetail_SMITH_ChargerY.pdf
    170101_SaleOnline_SMITH_ChargerZ.pdf

    Of course, if this just reflects the folder layer for you, what's the next layer? Are there a large number of different documents (as opposed to different versions which could be handled with the dates) for, say, the box design?
     
  7. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    @sunshineklein, I understand your desire for a "hard landscape" solution but I've worked with enough clients to know that there is no one solution that will be right for all. If you adopt file and folder naming conventions and document handling processes that don't match how your company needs to find the information your employees will resist using them.

    I also don't think there's anything wrong with folder hierarchies for shared document storage. Remember, the GTD filing recommendation is for individual, ad-hoc reference filing. It makes perfect sense not to use folder hierachies or create splinter systems for personal filing because, as David Allen puts it so well, it greatly increases the number of places something *might* be when you need to find it.

    On the other hand, I think folder hierarchies are fine for group storage as long as everyone knows and uses the same conventions. For example, if a contract always goes in a "contracts" folder underneath a folder named for the client, everyone will know where to file the document and where to locate it. There's no gray area or subjectivity to that, as there is for ad-hoc personal reference filing.

    If you decide to go with A-Z electronic filing company-wide and use lengthy, complex filenames as has been suggested, be sure you can trust your employees to follow the file naming conventions and key them with a minimum of errors. Also remember that time spent doing data entry is time not spent doing other work. If there are a lot of documents, the time spent naming them can add up. This I know from working with lots of clients as a document management consultant.

    Also beginning each filename with the date may not be necessary unless the creation date of the original document is different than that of the original (assuming the document wasn't "born" digitally).
     
  8. sunshineklein

    sunshineklein Registered

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    Yes some files are very logic to file in a hierarchies maner but the amount of "use full" stuff everybody has makes the structure very hard to uphold. I have tried so many times that it requiers that I have a good feel about what needs to be done. What is ok and what is not in regard of putting files in the system.

    @bcmyers2112 What would your recommendation be for making it work for all that nonspecific referens that are potential useful in an organistation? Privately it´s easy. This really comes down of making it easier for them and to not dig through email all the time...
    I can´t force them of adopting a GTD structure. Maybe a form of hard landscape only for the no-brainer like contract, productdesign and a general referens system for non-specifik like an comparison-chart of insurance for the company car. Have you helped anyone that have made that work? It´s those types of quick notes that clutters the whole structure.

    Hope I am making my self clear on what I´m saying
     
  9. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    @sunshineklein, you're being perfectly clear. What you're describing is a common challenge. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers.

    If memory serves, Google Drive allows you to set user permissions for who can view and/or edit folders and documents. I'd suggest using those capabilities to manage shared documents related to ad-hoc projects. You may want to create a parent directory specifically for those projects, and when they're complete you can make a regular practice of reviewing those documents in order to decide what to archive long-term, and where in the system.

    By the same token, you'll want to allow employees to have personal document storage for things that they need on an ad-hoc basis. That way their stuff won't cloud the group views.

    You may also want to designate a specific person or people as being responsible for filing shared documents, while giving employees the freedom to file stuff that's solely for their own needs in their own file structure.

    I'll give you an example. In my last job, whenever I created a sales proposal I would forward a copy to someone whose job it was to save that proposal to our group document storage. She filed them according to very specific conventions so everyone on the team who needed access to that proposal would know where to find it.

    On the other hand, I had a personal folder on the network drive accessible by only myself and the system administrator. I could store documents and other files I created or downloaded that other people had no need to see. For example, I like to create scripts for software demonstrations. Every salesperson has a different demonstration style, so other people didn't need to have access to my scripts. So I kept those in my personal network storage folder, filed in a way that made sense to me.
     
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  10. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    It occurs to me--and I realize that this has been addressed by pretty much all of the suggested solutions; I just felt the need to pull it out as a separate thought--that this is two separate (well, kind of separate) problems:

    -- How to organize the files.
    -- How to enforce the organization.
     
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  11. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    We haven't had any problems with one layer of folders and I clean out the needs filing folder daily or at least very other day.

    I dont' have any complex development in the business that I manage on Google. The GIT implementation for code can be but the system handles the conflicts because it's all one codebase not separate projects.
     
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  12. sunshineklein

    sunshineklein Registered

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    You are absolutely right. I believe you can say it´s a "management problem" The problem of finding the relevant document have emerged lately when I have had to delegate entire project without micromanage everything. That is not scalable or a fun organization. So this thread makes me question a lot actually and are trying to see the problem from our organisations point of view. My team is fantastic, and are happy to do whats necessary and are highly motivated. But it has been demoralizing when some info is hard to retrieve.
     

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