Rule #2 for preventing version-control problems is this:
Have clear rules for handling online files.
Goodness. It sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Proposal team members aren’t perfect. Everyone makes a mistake now and then and fails to follow the rules; a very few figure the rules don’t apply to them. But most people, most of the time, are at least trying to do the right thing.
So let them know what that is.
What Should the Rules Be?
- Should files be worked on only in the online repository, or is it OK to download them?
- If you download a file, is it OK not to “check it out,” so others can’t see it’s in play?
- If you can see a file’s in play, is it OK to download it, too, just for a look-see? And then maybe forget someone else is working on it and make some changes and upload a new version?
- Should you overwrite old versions, or is it OK to accumulate ten copies of every file, carefully distinguished by incrementing version numbers?
There’s No One Right Answer
(But There is One Wrong Answer)
The answers vary – by company, by proposal, by proposal team – and that’s OK, although some rules are more foolproof than others, that’s for sure.
What’s not OK is letting everyone do what seems good to them.
Decide on the rules, keep them as simple as you can, and communicate them clearly.
This is one of a short series on preventing version-control problems.
Version control: The file-naming and handling conventions intended to prevent earlier versions of documents from being used in place of the current version, and to prevent two people from working on a document in parallel, creating two versions that must then be reconciled at great waste of time and loss of sense of humour.