Thursday, July 12, 2012

Can't find the right file? Fix your filing system


Image credit:qwasyx / 123RF Stock Photo 
It hurts me to see people in an engineering office (or any office) fumble around in a hurried bustle trying to find a drawing(s) for a very important client meeting while freaking out!  Seriously…I want to cry.  I hurt from the inside.  You know that scene in Star Wars, A New Hope, when Obi-Wan Kenobi is training Luke Skywalker on route to Alderaan via the Millennium Falcon?  You know…when Obi-Wan is suddenly faint, is forced to sit down under the weight of death caused by the sudden destruction of an entire planet and says, “as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced” ?  That’s how I feel when I see or hear this kind of story.



Recently I came across a situation where this group had clients in the conference room and the project managers could not locate the proper drawings.    It happens.  One of the manager decided that he would simply print out the latest drawing.  He realized very quickly that he had no idea which file was the latest drawing.  In fact, he had no idea where to even look for the proper file.


The real problem was that nobody had any idea which electronic file contained the proper drawing! (See, it hurts doesn’t it?)  This situation stemmed from the fact that everyone that had a part in the project had their own filing system.  There was no centrally located place to store everything.  There was no method designed, no system in place that tied all of the project data together.  Who ever worked on the project saved the data their own way in their own location.  YIKES!!!

When I asked them why they weren’t using some sort of project management program they said that they cost too much, are too difficult to learn, use and to implement.  Then they have to stay up on top of any changes to the software and they have to train any new person that is hired.  My reply was “So presenting the wrong files, when you have files, to your clients’ costs nothing?”  The point was well taken and we agreed that something needed to be done.  I offered several suggestions, made a list, and so far I haven’t been given a response.  I’m assuming that the wisdom and insight I provided fell on deaf ears.  Change is hard.  I understand.  But when your business model has major flaws and costs you money (by appearing to be inept in front of your clients) then perhaps you have no choice but to change.  Otherwise, your lack of clientele and income will make the change happen for you.

If you current system is not working fix it.  You may not be able to afford to fix it but you certainly can’t afford to fail either.
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