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If Version Control was a team member, what would they say?

IDC data shows that “the knowledge worker spends about 2.5 hours per day, or roughly 30% of the workday, searching for information.  Really? Is this 2020 or 1992? 

The thing is, the people searching for information suffer in silence. They don’t want their boss to know the time suck because a mature person should be able to stick to an organization system, right? 

Companies are always on the look-out for a way to ensure employees have a single source of truth that they trust and always go back to.  It seemed like the shared drive would be the answer.  But does anyone ever get assigned to taking out the digital trash?  After all, outdated files and data pile up quickly. But we don’t think of it as an issue - there is plenty of room, just buy another terabyte or 2.

Putting everything in one single location is not the problem, it is that each person has their own way of naming their files and how they relate to each other.  In order to manage the chaos, the team must first agree on the naming structure and it must be simple.  

This all sounds good in the beginning….everyone enthusiastically nods in agreement. It’s a magical moment in time. 

That will never be relived again.

The name of each final file will be “projectname.final” -  DONE.  Simple, consistent and easy.  

That is until the file name looks like...

UberImportantproject.final.final.final.serviouslyfinal.reallythisisitfinal

Everyone gets it, gone are the days when there was a physical file with the latest version and when there is a new version, you literally throw the old one away.  So straightforward. So predictable. So ecologically unfriendly. So pre internet.

And your version control team member just had a nervous breakdown. 

Now we have become accepting that we may not have the most recent proposal (document?) but the one we find first is good enough. Here’s a pop quiz: Is it easier to save it locally so you don’t have to find the right shared drive, the right folder and the right version, or search your inbox based on who you recall sent it or you sent it to. Times up, and the correct answer is….there has got to be a better way.

If this is your reality, get a load of this: A 2018 study by Nintex, titled the Definitive Guide to America’s Most Broken Processes surveyed 1,000 US full-time employees across industries and departments,  guess what? Of all the folks interviewed,  39% reported document processes within their organizations were broken. Specifically:

  • 49% said they have trouble locating documents
  • 43% have trouble with document approval requests and document sharing
  • 33% struggle with the document versioning

In plain words, in the words of our fellow content chaos victims:

“I love how SharePoint is organized, as long as I am the only person using it.”

“People get passive-aggressive about how they set up their files and if you don’t bring the right document you get, “In the email I sent, there is a link to the folder and if you follow the naming conventions we agreed to in February, you would have it.”

“It took our HR team one year to set up the SharePoint site, then it took one year for people to trust that the content is truly up to date, and by then it wasn’t.”

We all struggle with it.  Knowing we may be using an outdated version because the alternatives seriously just take too much time.  We have meetings to attend! 

What do we do about it?  

Don’t try yet another storage solution or naming convention, go to the source and change the document itself. 

Let’s stop tolerating all of the digital trash and all of the wasted time searching for content, while living in a world of version after version.  Let’s start sharing content that’s always-up-to-date and that people can find more easily.  Hint: have a look here. And that version control team member, they can get a promotion to do some truly useful work.