Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Version Control in Document Management: Why is it important?

The version of a document or digital content can be defined as the variation within a digital asset or its metadata. In other words, it means updating, editing or change, with respect to a previous version and its metadata.

Editing, updating or changes are common in our daily work, just like having to undo said changes; or, simply, choosing a version among multiple documents which have the same purpose (and which came from one unique version). When there is no version control, those changes are permanent. Editing a document means overwriting content in a file. Once that content is overwritten, there certainly is no way to go back to recover the version created before the changes were made.

There is a second option to help us avoid this problem: saving a new file for each variation we make that’s based on the original. The problem with this strategy is that we have serious problems identifying the differences between the previous versions. We would have to keep looking at the date and time of the last update of the file to know which one was the last. That kind of work is considerably slow.

Version control means always being able to access the latest version, while still having access to previous versions. We can (almost immediately) recuperate a version of the document which is not the current version. The version history will also give us clear clues about what’s been done to a document and will be our road map to show us how to work with the distinct version. On the other hand, without version control, work flows become an ineffectual tool and work in teams on documents becomes more confusing and difficult to coordinate. In the case of work flows, you would have to eliminate every chance for human error (which would be highly improbable to do), given that the flow could only be carried out one way, without any way of going back when there are problems in any one of the stages. With respect to working in teams, we would always be obligated to explain to our co-workers which version is the latest, and on which version they should work.

To sum up, a functionality that is as easy as versioning could mean the difference between working and working twice as much to get the same results.

DOWNLOADSWe explain how Athento helped Crisa manage technical documents.

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