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Office File Structure

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This is a question more about general office practices rather than being specific to Vectorworks.

We are a small architectural firm in the UK, less than 10 members of staff. 


I can't help feeling that the file structure we used is rather outdated and a legacy of technology from quite a while a go. Our set up is as follows, all of which is contained on a server within the office.


- Project Drawings Volume

- Project Photos Volume

- Project Admin Volume

- Office Admin Volume

- Backups Volume


I guess these are all a legacy of when hard drives were quite small and the information had to be split up across different drives, but i'm only guessing. My main concern is the project drawings volume, which is split into 10 or so folders for things such as; issues, surveys, planning drawings, demolition drawings, GAs, internal details, external details, 3D models etc. This is a legacy of when each drawing was a file individually. 


Now, as we move forward with BIM and single models from which we extra data, it's common to have a project master file within one of the above folders which seems a waste of a lot of folders and makes it different for people to find things. Especially as some people use the system on way and others another.


This got me thinking about what the perfect project file looks like, and what data is included. Is everything (drawings, photos, admin) all within one file? Does this make it slow due to the sheer amount of data (particularly photos)? 


I'd be really interested to hear how other offices are set up for this kind of things, and perhaps what things they would do differently or what they're planning to do in the future. With coronavirus, i'm sure everyone is thinking about ditching physical servers (if they havent already) and to me this represents a great way to investigate how data is organised and how it could be done more efficiently.


Thanks in advance!

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There are several threads on this forum, and some quite recent that talk about working remotely and running VW off a cloud / using dropbox etc. As I understand it there has been general success in this way of working. To find out more simply type "remote" into the forum search and you should get some good results.


We are still using physical in house servers however our practice is similar in size to yours and we have undergone a process of revamping our office set up recently. That said how you best organise your filing should reflect the type, size and scope of your practice.


Being a smallish practice we do not need a many tiered filling system. There are folders that are used on every project but not every project runs into Tender Documentation so our default project folder is fairly basic - see screenshot:




The CAD folder has the current VW file plus some subfolders for "Superceded" and "Milestone" files. We archive all issued drawings as pdf's in the EXPORTED folder complete with date of issue. Both the EXPORTED & IMPORTED folders have subfolders for documents issued / received from Clients, Contractors, Consultants and Council. Additional subfolders are added as required for each project.


When/if a project moves to tender we add additional folders for contract admin, Site meetings etc.


That's pretty much it. It's not a perfect system but it works well for us. Stuff is not too arduous to file away and also easy too find, even for people not familiar with a project.


If you are looking to make a change in your office I should note that one of the hardest things is to get your colleagues on board with the change - esp for those who have been working the same way for some time. There has to be a directive from a senior member of staff and some training/bedding in time will be required. Getting staff input will also help with the change etc etc. (I could go on) - but be warned! 🙂.


Hope that was helpfull.

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