Version control software is often less talked about than other types of document tools. But whether you invest in stand-alone programs or include this tool into your greater document management strategies, don’t underestimate how much it can aid your day to day workflow process. Chances are pretty good that unless you are already using something similar, the closest thing that you get to version tracking is making up your own document titles when you edit in Word. Perhaps something like ‘This is Document Title_v1.doc’ or rather ‘This is Document_20130101_v2.6.doc’. Maybe even something closer to ‘This is Document Title_20130101_v2.6_insertyournamehereCHECK .doc’. These are all just random examples of course. But in all honesty, the reality is not too different for most when it comes to the old school approach to version control.
Increasing Efficiency with Version Control
There are quite a few reasons that the creative document manual rename system is more hindrance than help. Those reasons also act as a pretty good indication of how the opposite can be true as well – check out the following points to find out why your documents are getting lost in the system, and why it may be a good time to think about proper version control software.
- There is too much room for human error. All it takes is one wrong date, one person to forget to update the document title, or worse still, someone to come along and make up a brand new title altogether. From there, who knows what will happen?
- You still have to hunt through manually labelled documents to find the right one. You are pretty sure which folder you put it in, and you are 90% sure that V2.0.23232 was the most recent one, assuming that Pat from accounting remembered to update the document last month.
- There is very little to nothing in the way of organization. Version control not just about giving all those files nice simple names, or even about finding the correct one when you need it. It’s also about having a system that anyone can use with little in the way of briefing. If your wonderful office manager needs to be replaced, the new manager should be able to bring up that contract in its current version, without a map and a compass.
Now that you know why the old system was not really working too well, you should also be getting an idea of why a new and improved system may just work very well indeed. Other than generating an automatic, standardized numbering system for each version, tools like this also store documents so that the most recent one is always available instantly. And, you can also get the benefit of document management too, so that editing becomes much easier. Of course, organization is taken care of as well, especially with an automated process. So what else does that leave in the way of benefits? The biggest, and most important benefit, and the reason that you should really change over to a proper version control system is that it is a simple way to manage the workflow process – no more confusion, no more stress.