002 Folder Structure for Design and Construction Professionals

I walkemain folder copyd into Pat’s office and since he was on the phone, I motioned to him that I needed the sister drawing to the one I had in my hand. We were working together on a project and he was the PM. I looked down at his desk, which was hidden under  haphazardly placed 18”X24” drawing sheets. The sheets were frayed and had been walked on, and were covered with red-lines from his fat no. 9 Pentel pencil. He tucked the phone under his chin and put the pencil in his mouth, swiveled around in his chair, lifted a stack of papers a few inches off his desk and pointed with his nose to the drawing that I needed. He’s worked this way for 35 years and is regarded as a structural engineering genius. Somehow chaos works for him. Over the years, my computer folders have gotten out of control and looked like Pat’s office. Instead of paper, I had icons and folders cluttering my computer screen.  Like most people, I either had too many folders or too few, and the labeling was too broad or too specific. About two years ago, after many (many) years trial and error, I developed a system that works for me. I continue to tweak it as needed and it is constantly evolving.  Over the past year it has evolved quite a bit since I started doing more project management and less structural design work. project-folder

I’ll briefly discuss what is in each folder and maybe you’ll see something that you can use.

Main folder:

  • 01-Administrative: All items pertaining to the business and operations aspect of running a firm or office, from employee reviews to business plans.
  • 02-Design: General spreadsheets and templates relating to structural engineering design. It also contains technical articles, manufacturers reports, and building codes.
  • 03-Construction: Similar to the design folder but for construction items.
  • 04-Education: Literature from seminars, classes, and lunch and learns.
  • 05-Personal: For me this contains scans of receipts for flex care reimbursement.
  • 06-Production: Similar to the design folder but for items relating to drawing production, AutoCAD and Revit shortcuts etc.
  • 07-PM: General templates for project management. At my current job, I have a folder that contains documents that I created describing the processes and procedures of taking a project through the state system.
  • 08-Projects: As the description states- projects.
  • 09-General: Items that doesn’t fit into a category above.

08 Sample Projects Folder:

  • 00-Initiation: Items relating to the project before it becomes a project, from funding documents to designer solicitation documents to the designer award letter, and a copy of the contract.
  • 01-Feasibility Study: Designer deliverables.
  • 02-SD: Designer deliverables.  When I was a design consultant these folders (02-04) were expanded and contained all the ingredients that were used to create the deliverables.
  • 03-DD: Designer deliverables.
  • 04-CD: Designer deliverables.
  • 05-CA: Copy of the construction contract and items relating to construction.
  • 06-Meetings: My meeting notes and the designer’s official meeting minutes.
  • 07-Project Management: All things related to managing the project including project invoices, schedule, budget worksheets, construction estimates, and project directory.
  • 08-Communication: This folder contains an “Incoming” folder and “Outgoing” folder. All incoming and outgoing email attachments that are not submittals go to this folder, like sketches or design options.

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