What’s the latest version? Is it the Version 7 you have, or the Version 7 I have?
You do not want to get caught in those situations. Version control is very important in the efficient flow of corporate communications.
Here are three tips I’ve learned help keep confusion from blooming out of control:
One: Initial Latest Version
Every time I share a version with anyone else, I add my initials to the version so they’ll know who worked on it last. So I send them, say FileName V7JP. When they send it back with their changes, they probably didn’t think to chance the file name, so I change it and add their initials: V7LJ.
My new work file then becomes, V8JP.
Two: Make Frequent Version Changes
Seems absurd sometimes, but making lots of version copies — with every significant change — can help keep things straight. Especially if you want to go back and pick up something that you deleted in an earlier version. If you have, in reality, make 12 substantive versions, but you only kept two working versions, you may have lost that little change you want to pick back up in V7.
Three: Archive for Clarity
I make an Archive folder and drop all the older versions into it, so the only version visible in the main folder is the live one, the current one. Even if you are the only one who views the folder, this is a good practice. But if it’s a shared folder, this really helps keep mistakes to a minimum (you know, when someone goes in to get the latest version, and they mistakenly pull the wrong one to work on).
Other Good Ideas
It’s also a good idea to instill in your colleagues that using the Track Changes tool (in Microsoft Word) is very helpful for reviews. It keeps you, the keeper of the master file, from having to search for whatever minor changes they may have made. (It also lets you easily reject changes that make no sense, and keep the ones that do.) I save these review versions, in the Archive folder, with the reviewer’s initials in the file.
Make PDF copies: This can be an alternative way to keeping lots of different file versions. You can make a PDF with the date and time stamped in the file name, and pitch it into the Archive folder.
What are your best tips and tricks for keeping your file versions under control?