Project Management:  How to Avoid Multiple Versions of Documents

Project Management: How to Avoid Multiple Versions of Documents

project management**Note:  Mom in Management hasn’t had very many career/work related tips lately and I intend to refocus and have more content related to professional ares of your life.  I would love any comments about types of information or discussions that would interest you.

I recently started a new job that involves a lot of collaboration between team members.  We are spread out all over the country, so working together is primarily achieved via email.  However, with so many people reviewing and creating reports, keeping track of different versions of the same document can be pretty tricky.

Document Naming Conventions

There are a couple of document naming conventions that you probably already use, but I thought worth repeating.

  • Add v1 or v2 to the end of the name after you change it – then you know the doc with the higher number is the most recent version.
  • Add the date of your change to the document name.
  • Add your initials to the document to indicate these are your comments.
  • Example:  draftreportV1_dfg_9_15_2011.doc

Shared Server

Many companies are providing shared server storage space for their employees.  Storing all project files on the shared server will allow you to know if someone else is currently editing a document by showing you a “Read Only – Document is currently open by Joe Smith” message.   This works pretty well and allows documents to be accessible to all staff at any time.

Google Docs

I was surprised that people in my new company were unfamiliar with Google docs – in fact that’s what inspired this post.  Google docs allow multiple people to edit the same document at the same time.  It is the epitome of online project collaboration.


  • Budget Development - Do you need input from multiple people to develop a budget for your proposal?  Maybe you need to work on estimation of hours needed per task.  The Google Doc spreadsheet is perfect. You can have the appropriate people edit their sections simultaneously without needing to wait for someone else to finish.  You can also see the edits as they are being made and give your two cents while someone is brainstorming.
  • Proofreading & Document Creation –  Have a report that required different people to write different sections?  They can work on a Word.doc at the same time and you can all see the document develop in real time.  You can also have multiple people proofreading at the same time, so you don’t get 5 different reviewers telling you that there should be a period in paragraph 2.  One person fixes it and the others see it as it happens – no need to comment.

There are a few limitations to the options available in the Word and Excel versions available through Google docs, but they are definitely worth checking out and playing around with if you haven’t already.

What document version control tips do you have?  Please share. 

6 Responses to Project Management: How to Avoid Multiple Versions of Documents

  1. Googledocs is a very interesting tool for managing projects. Maybe you can dedicate a post to explain, in details, how you’re using googledocs in project management.

    Thanks for sharing…

  2. Daria – Curious if you are using a shared calendar? I have tried a few on a particular project & haven’t yet found the right fit for this one group. Wondering what/if you use on with your virtual team?

    • Google calendar is great! I’ve used it in my last job and also use it now with my family calendar. Have you tried it yet? I really like that it’s accessible anywhere and you don’t need a particular program like outlook to access it. PLus easy to get on your phone too.

  3. Yes, actually I love Google Calendar too & we use it to its fullest for the family. For whatever reason it doesn’t seem to be a liked option for someone on this team, so we are looking for alternatives.

    • If the team is ok with it and it is one person, I would put the burden of finding an alternative on the person that doesn’t like Google.

      “I’m sorry this isn’t working for you – why don’t you suggest an alternative and we’ll consider it.”

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