File paths, yes, file name changes and/or relocations, no! Some background. I was presented a drawing from a former project and was instructed to use the details from that sheet. I knew we were starting off on the wrong foot.
Side note: Avoid using notes, details, etc. from past projects when possible. You never know what will be carried over accidently that you do not want to deal with.
Regardless of my pet peeve of not using custom details from other projects I did anyway. With a lot of time and effort. The drawing I was given had a date on it that makes the drawing about five years old! A file name was given in the titleblock as well as a project number. But nowhere to be found was a file path showing me where the file was located on our servers. I assumed (my mistake) that since our project folders are named by their project numbers that I would simply go to that project folder and would be able to find the drawing file. There was no project folder with that name! Not wanting to waste time I queried the PM that gave me the work as to the location of the example drawing. He had no idea. I was on my own. Everyone’s initials that were on the title block were no longer employed here so I could not go and ask them. Grrrrr…
I executed a file search on the server. A second and third search. Nothing. I went to our time management and billing program and searched the project name. Nothing! I went to the archives. Nothing. Finally I found a similarly named project in our active engineering folder (these were landscape architecture plans by the way) where there was a file with a similar name. I opened it and that was the file after about 45 minutes of effort! I could have redrawn the detail in 60 minutes!!
This was a failure for several reasons.
- The file was renamed at some point in its life cycle.
- The project identifier was changed at some point
- The file was in the wrong folder because it didn’t follow our standard file management practices.
- There was no file path indicator on the drawing.
- The individuals that worked on the project were no longer employed by the company meaning we could not ask them where the files were.
How does a company deal with this type of a situation? Better yet, how does a company make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen? There are several methods that can be taken to help avoid this or other similar situations.
Always place a filepath in your drawings. This can be done via a text field or plot stamp. I’ll take either one. Do not type in the name or location of the file. That info is dead and static. Use a field. I prefer to use a field over a plot stamp because I can set it once and unless somebody deletes the text object it will always be there. A plot stamp has to be turned on. The plot stamp setting on/off is set whenever you use it. It’s not a drawing specific setting. If I plot with the plot stamp off, it will still be off the next time I go to plot. Annoying. Plus I can forget to turn it on/off the next time I plot.
Don’t change a files name. Don’t move the file. If the name of the project changes or the file has to be renamed (face it sometimes weird things happen and we have to break the rules) leave some sort of a road map as to what you did. That way anyone that comes looking for it knows where to go to find the file. This can be done in many different ways. Find one that works for you. I have seen managers create a place holder folder that ha the old project/file name with text in it telling users where the new location is. Simple enough but it can get real busy. I have also seen AutoCAD files with nothing but text saying this file has been moved/renamed/deleted/etc.
None of these solutions are pretty, but wasting time cost money. Not to mention what loosing data will do!