Whether you are storing your files on your local device or in the cloud, for general use or a specific project, it’s important to decide on your overall file management approach. The more you plan ahead, the easier your life will be later. There are three main items to consider before you start: Resource Hierarchy, Naming Conventions, and Classifications.

Resource Hierarchy

Your Resource Hierarchy is possibly the most important consideration. If you are not consistent in how you store your files you will find yourself going down a rabbit hole every time you need to retrieve something. 

Where are you storing your files? This is important because if you are storing files on your own device, how long before you run out of room? Are you making backups often enough? What are you going to do if you need to co-edit a document? If you are storing your files in the Cloud (OneDrive, SharePoint, Box, DropBox, GoogleDrive, etc..), is there a storage limit? Are you using a different service than your organization?

Once you know where you are storing your files, determine the permissions you may need to bestow on any co-editors. You don’t want to provide too much or too little access and you don’t want any sensitive information accidentally shared. 

You also need to determine your folder structure. Are you grouping your files by project, customer, purpose, or something else? What sub-folders do you need to further organize your resources?

Naming Conventions

The Naming Conventions you use and define for your documents and files make searching for documents easier. 

Are you going to incorporate the Project Name, Phase of the Project, Purpose of the document or file, or something else for file management? Are you using dates to track version history or are you relying on your Cloud storage to keep version history for you? Consistency is key to keeping your sanity when you’ve eventually got several years of digital files to search through.

Classifications

Classifications are generally used by organizations for Data Loss Prevention (DLP) to prevent Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or Protected Health Information (PHI), as well as other sensitive or confidential information from getting into the wrong hands. 

Common classifications include Restricted, Confidential, Internal Use Only, and Public Information, but can include more or different classifications depending on your organization’s industry. Make sure you understand the classifications used by your organization to keep your files safe.

Microsoft has some excellent resources regarding DLP, PII, and PHI:

Attend MMITC’s File Sharing Webinar on July 14, 2021

If you use collaboration tools for messaging, you need to understand what happens to the files you share through that application.

If you would like to learn more about what happens to files that are shared in Microsoft Teams, join Meet Me In The Cloud for our upcoming webinar, “What Happens to My Files in MS Teams?” on July 14, 2021, from 1:00 to 1:30 pm EST.