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Version Control (aka Damage Control)

Posted By: North Plains Archive: August

(Like pictures more than words? View the above presentation. Otherwise, keep reading!)


Happy Monday! You begin your normal morning routine – you have two (or five) cups of coffee and begin sifting through your weekend emails. Then, a coworker pings you: “Just released the new logo! Thx!” You open the file and your heart sinks. A production team member made changes to an old version, completely missing all the edits you’d made yesterday. Now this flawed logo is out in the world for all to see, threatening to tarnish your brand. But how did we get here?

Let’s Back Up To The Beginning

Recently, your company merged with another company and it was time to rebrand. As Brand Manager, you were tasked with heading up the rebranding strategy so you pull in resources from across the company to create a project roadmap. Due to a tight deadline, the lines of communication were frayed. Files were saved in multiple locations without a standard naming convention. These files were then shared via Google Drive, email, and instant messages. None of these files had any security permissions or restrictions.

Suddenly there were five different draft versions of the logo. Damage control was now crucial. You conducted emergency meetings to consolidate all of the incorrect files and make sure the necessary edits were incorporated into the final version. Everything seemed to be in order until a faulty naming convention – “Revised Final” instead of “Final” – confused the coworker who just told you he published the incorrect logo.

So What Went Wrong?

Working on highly involved projects with multiple files with varying versions and team members can be confusing without a strong organizational system in place. Let’s look at what went wrong.

  • Inconsistent naming conventions: “Revised Final” vs. “Final” does not make it clear which is the completed asset – final is pretty, well…. final.
  • Multiple file versions: There were five (or more) versions of the original file that anyone could have taken and published themselves without any restrictions.
  • Current versions were not easily accessible: Perhaps the most recent file was only accessible through a single email attachment that was quickly buried by other emails. Or maybe you forgot to add the necessary party to the email chain, or worse, included someone who didn’t need to be on there.
  • Data corruption: It’s possible that somewhere down the line, the “current” version of your logo ended up corrupted, making it completely inaccessible. Additionally, you could have changed the permissions to be accessible to anyone with the link – and one of your coworkers sent the logo to a friend outside of the company, which can quickly become untraceable.
  • Miscommunication on expectations: Perhaps your coworkers had a different understanding of the due date for your logo – the one who published the logo might have thought that you needed the asset to be uploaded ASAP.
  • Lack of organization: When it comes to controlling your assets, it’s easy to lose track of them without a solid organizational method in place. There are so many types, versions, and locations where they could be shared. If you fall behind, then locating certain assets could prove to be impossible without an organized folder system.

How Could We Have Avoided These Challenges?

When these kinds of situations occur, things may seem dire, but a bit of organization and communication can do wonders for your assets (as well as your sanity).

  • Implement an asset management solution: Digital asset management provides a single source of truth for your entire organization. Forget confusing naming conventions and complicated approval processes – DAM seamlessly handles these processes for you with minimal effort. DAM allows you to establish one point of control so only the project owner can approve or deny versions. What’s more, you’ll never have to wonder which file is the most recent as DAM will ensure you are always working on the latest version. Oh, and data corruption? DAM takes care of that, too. DAM archives every single change so you’ll never lose another asset to data corruption again.
  • Make sure to always set expectations. If a project is incredibly important, then make sure your coworkers know it’s important. If it can be delayed a couple of weeks, ensure that others aren’t working on it for the entire workday. When assigning assets to be put into creation, adding a due date can prove to be invaluable.
  • Create a project management plan. Lack of role clarity is a surefire way to create unnecessary confusion, overlapping efforts and responsibility gaps. Assigning clear ownership of a project with expected deliverables and due dates is critical to a project’s success. In addition to clearly outlining the project, this approach establishes accountability which encourages involved parties to claim more responsibility for the project’s outcome.

Version Control is Key

The evidence is overwhelming: a strong version control system would have prevented this situation from happening in the first place. It helps you organize your assets, set clear expectations, and allows your assets to be more securely protected. As long as your company implements a version control system from the start and makes an effort to maintain it, everything should be smooth sailing!

Version control is just one aspect of what digital asset management can do for you and your company. Learn more about how DAM can streamline your workflows and make it easier for your team to access, share, edit, and manage all of your project files by downloading our DAM Purchasing Guide for Creatives.

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North Plains