Johnny.Decimal areas and categories that span servers, drives, and tools

I work in an environment where our projects are spread across different servers, shared drives, and software tools. For example, I have my files on my laptop, team files in an MS Teams channel, and support items in ServiceNow.
Does this file structure make sense? It divides areas by the tool or system and there would be a common index for them. I am trying to avoid having a similar set of areas, categories, and IDs in each of these environments.
Trying to design a file structure across disparate systems is certainly challenging.


I’ve had this problem mostly in the context of working for a consultancy company, but most of the job being on a client’s site. So I have two computers, two networks, two inboxes, etc.

In that particular situation, everything was just mashed together and my index told me where stuff was. So 11.01 might have been on the consultancy’s network, and 11.02 on the client’s. This worked, for me, because I was the only one using it.

Also at the start I didn’t design that system. I just had to get on with the job. So things were smashed together out of necessity.

If you have the luxury of thinking about it, I think an approach like yours makes a lot of sense. I can’t help but feel that there’ll be exceptions, and handling those will need to be part of your plan.

What if someone stores a blue thing in Teams? 'Cos they’re gonna, you know they are.

An index is absolutely critical in this situation.

I certainly feel your pain. In the modern workplace there are so many places that a thing can be. And I’m talking top-line places; we haven’t even gone down a folder level yet. It’s madness.

Anecdote. My mate Alex was talking to a guy he used to work with. He said how he’d been on this Teams session with one of those Microsoft 80" TV whiteboard things, like a giant iPad. They’re cool, I like them.

So they draw all this useful stuff, and the meeting ends. And now where is that stuff? Nobody had any idea. When he spoke to Alex, days later, they still hadn’t found it.

(In the SharePoint folder for that particular Teams session is likely the answer. But you have to know that that exists, and how to get to it.)

My example file structure really drove home to me the importance of the index. Before creating that example, I really focused on the file structure and I assumed that the structure itself would just point to every file’s location. That is clearly not the case.

The index certainly feels like additional work burden. However, it’s probably a much smaller burden then trying to remember where a file is located and then doing file comparisons to make sure that I have the right version of the file. Ugh…

I think that creating the index is the best way to handle those exceptions, the person who puts the blue thing in the Teams site. It may be in the “wrong” place but the pointer in the index will keep it findable.

Do you update the index every time you add a document to it or does it simply describe the types of documents that it contains?
Is this the workflow?

  • Update a document called new cyclocross_tires.docx
  • Save the doc to the appropriate folder (20-29 Blue Things > 21 Bicycles > 21.02 Gravel)
  • Update the index with a comment about the new document
    Is the index done at a higher level and so it doesn’t require updating it with every new doc? In that case, the index is a pointer to everything related to gravel bikes.

Thanks for all your help, it’s certainly appreciated.

This one.

Haha my own forum won’t let me post such a short post. Bad forum! Okay this should be long enough now. :upside_down_face:

I’m in the middle of this myself as I’ve got a new server and I’m moving data around.

I find myself splitting by category. For example I have 90-99 Media, archive, backups, and I want some of that backed up to the cloud and some not.

91 Other people's data doesn’t need to go to the cloud, as I’m already the offsite backup for someone else. Plus it’s hundreds of gigs of stuff I don’t really care about and I’m in Australia so my upload speed is woeful. :sob:

Anyway so that category goes in one folder, which is not backed up, and my own 94 Media category goes in another, which is.

I’m still moving stuff around but I think it’ll work out okay…

Thanks! That certainly simplifies things. It wouldn’t work if I had to add a reference to a document every time I added one to a folder.

Good luck with the server migration. I know that’s a lot of work (having done it and observed it more than once).