‘A rose by any other name…’
Unlike Romeo and Juliet‘s ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’, the names we give our files and folders have a strong bearing on being able to find and use them again. When you start to see files and folders in your records systems with names that lack precision and purpose, aren’t consistent, or use jargon or acronyms, then it’s time to look (again) at titling.
Most organisations will already have guidance on how to provide good titles for folders and documents. ‘Title’, which is a mandatory metadata field for UK government, is in most cases captured automatically when we type in the name of the file as we save it into a system or create a subject line for an email. The title is also the minimum part of a record that will be displayed by search engines in response to our keyword queries.
General guidance for giving documents meaningful names, including standard formats for displaying dates and version control, is essential for enabling discovery. Embedding the practices described in the guidance into organisation culture and then monitoring its success is the ongoing job that usually falls to records and information management professionals or their delegated representatives within individual business units.
Yet there needs to be more specific guidance provided where important information is being created or stored to ensure that evidence and records are managed appropriately within their retention and disposition schedules and are available to support the business processes in which they play a key role. These more specific titling and control guidelines can be identified during a What to Keep engagement which is an essential component of any business change involving data and information.