Keeping your files organized is less than glamorous, but it’s low-hanging fruit in terms of effort vs impact. A good filing system can be a life saver when you need quick access to negotiated rates and payment terms, have to keep track of multiple versions of source/target texts and reference material, and yes, especially now as we all start digging around for tax documents. The advice that most surprises industry newcomers is to: Get and stay organized!
In this post, I am going to explain how I organize the electronic files for my business. You can use my system, change it to meet your needs, or come up with your own – whatever works for you! Office 365 didn’t exist when I started out, so I squirreled everything away under one main folder called “Translation Work”. This also made it super easy for me to create external backups (before automated online backup services), and later move everything to a new laptop after my first laptop fizzled out.
Here is my filing system: “Translation Work” > Folders for every client, “ABC Translation Company” > Folders by year, “2016” > Folders by date and purchase order (PO), “2-3-16_PO01672”. Inside each PO folder, I have three at least folders: “Source” (all files or packages for translation), “Reference” (project-specific glossaries, special instructions, and PDF typeset source docs) and “Delivered”. The “Delivered” folder is most important. It only contains my deliverables, i.e., the final edited or translated documents that I actually deliver to the client. In most cases, this includes the bilingual xliff and the final, clean exported and checked target document. This way, I always know where my final documents are for quick and easy access.
Inside the client-specific folder, “ABC Translation Company”, in addition to the folders by year, I have three folders called: “Startup Docs”, “TMs” (Translation Memories by end client), and “Glossaries” (termbases by end client). The “Startup Docs” folder is very important as it contains my email negotiations (rates, payment terms, etc.), and any login information for client systems and portals.
I absolutely couldn’t survive without my Delivered and Startup Docs folders. However, there is no right or wrong way to tame your filing gremlins. The “best” way is one that works for you and saves you time and energy!