Version Control

August 24th, 2012 by bluewave

Version control may not sound like a big problem, but here’s a typical scenario that can drive budgets up quickly.

- The client sends the designers a file.
- The design team assumes they have the final file and no one is still working on slides.
- Unbeknownst to the designers, the client has one or more people still working on the content.
- At some point, the client sends the designers a new file with a comment something like, “Here’s the latest file. We’ve made a few updates and added and deleted a few slides.”

If the client has spelled out IN DETAIL where EVERY change has been made, it’s better, but that’s usually never the case.

So, here’s the reality of what’s ahead.

- The designers have a file that is finished, or nearly finished, and let’s say there are 35 slides in the file they’ve been working on.
- The new deck from the client contains 42 slides, but some have been deleted and others have been added.
- Now the files don’t match and it becomes difficult to discuss using slide numbers, because they are not reliable, due to the change of slides (adds/deletes).
- The next big issue is finding  e v e r y  change that was made.
- Slide-by-slide comparisons are not enough because the client may have made changes that are not obvious –  serial commas, abbreviations, capitalization, or punctuation.
- Often designers share the load of work by splitting the file into parts – one working on photos, another on graphics, etc.
- Depending on the situation, the team may need to stop all work, put the file back together, print each slide from both decks and compare slide-by-slide and sometimes one character at a time.

This is an extreme example, but it happens and it’s very expensive to have multiple people stop all work and delve into solving this problem, that is easily avoided. How?

- Printing the file, marking up each slide with notes and faxing the file to the designers is the best.
- Using text box notes in bright colors everywhere a change needs to be made is the next most effective.
- Discussing each slide on the phone live is the least effective, but better than having version issues.

The preferred way to handle this is to have the client stop all work until the designers have finished the first draft, then the client can make revisions in the same file, then send it back to the designers.

Another good control is to have only one person on the client side managing the project. Too many people keep the design team guessing about what’s needed. And, another good thing is to ask the design team, what works best for them, as it can vary widely, depending on the deadline.

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