Templates and Business Flow: Client and Project Management

This post builds on my previous post on templates: Templates, Audit Trails, and Client Confidentiality.

I’ll assume that you’ve created a series of template files to support your business flow, standardize your documents in a professional-looking way, and maintain client confidentiality.

In this post, I’ll discuss a couple of ways you can make sure they’re collected together in a way that makes them easy to find and easy to use.

Template Folders

This method works well when you use the same files for every new client or every new project: create a template folder to house all of your standard templates. You won’t forget about a template file, because it’s already there in the template folder waiting to be used.

Suppose that for every client you use a standard intake questionnaire, standard contract, and standard means of recording notes for every meeting with the client. Place all of these templates in a folder named something like “_new-client” (but without the quotes). When you get a new client, you’ll simply make a copy of this folder, rename it to reflect the name of your new client, and viola! The new client’s template files are ready to be customized.

If you offer different service lines that require different intake procedures or different client files, you’ll create a “_new-client-service-type” folder in which to house the things relevant to that service offering; this works well when you won’t have a client that utilizes multiple of your service offerings. Similarly, if you use the same standard files for every project, you’ll create a “_new-project” folder in which to house the things relevant to that project.

You can also combine these template folder solutions. For instance, you could use a “_new-client” template folder for your new client. Then, for each new service line or project that you undertake with that client, you could copy that service line or project folder into your client’s folder, rename it accordingly, and get to work.

You might have noticed that I used an underscore (“_”) at the beginning of each of the folder names above. Why? When you alphanumerically sort folder contents, the underscore character will be sorted before the numbers or letters, so it will be at the top of the listing of all of your client and/or project folders.

File Tags

Some people might feel that all of the template folders are too linear or hierarchical for how they like to sort through their files later or think about their projects.

One solution for this is to “tag” your office files just like blogs are tagged. Not all files can be tagged like this, but Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, and LibreOffice will all allow you to do this. You can tag files when you save them, or after-the-fact in Finder (on a Mac) or Windows Explorer (in Windows 10).

Tagging can help you search for files at a later date, or consolidate files (e.g., invoices) across all projects or clients. Because these tags will become so embedded in your file structure and business flow, it’s important that you really sit down and think about what tags you want to use and what you want to call them before you start using them.

WARNING !! If you tag template files, these tags won’t necessarily transfer to the client or project-specific files you create from the templates, so you should play around on your own system to find out how these work.

Using Tags in Windows 10
When you save a file using Save As, you should see a place where you can add or specify a tag right in the same pop-up file dialog window where you type the file’s name. To do it after-the-fact with a closed file, follow these instructions:

  1. In Windows Explorer (a.k.a. File Explorer), right-click on the file, and select Properties.
  2. In the Properties pop-up, select the Details tab, and then type your tag into the spot labeled “Tags”. If you’ve already given the file a tag, you’ll see that displayed here. You can delete and add tags as necessary, and add multiple tags if so desired.

To search for a tagged file, open Windows Explorer (a.k.a. File Explorer). In the Windows Explorer search, type “tag:the-tag-you’re-looking-for” (without the quotes).

Using Tags On a Mac
As with Windows 10, when you save a file using Save As, you should see a place where you can add or specify a tag right in the same pop-up file dialog window where you type the file’s name. To do it after-the-fact with a closed file, follow these instructions:

  1. In Finder, right-click on the file, and select Get Info.
  2. Near the top you’ll see the spot for tags. If you’ve already given it a tag, you’ll see that displayed here. You can delete and add tags as necessary from the list of already-defined tags, or type in a new tag name as needed.

To search for a tagged file, open Finder. On the left side of the Finder window, you should see a list of the available file tags. Click on the one you want to search for.

Want help setting up a template structure? Let’s Connect!

If you have another method you like to use to organize your files, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Author: Barbara

Barbara is the Managing Member and Primary Consultant of Blou Designs LLC

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